P&O students travel to Peru

Hartfors students assist those in need of prostethics in South America

By STN2 Staff | 04/03/15 | Updated 04/03/15 | Posted in News, Campus News

The organization, Dreaming and Working Together, has a mission to help those who are unable to help themselves. About nine years ago, Hernando Garcia, a member of Health Information Management at Hartford Hospital, organized “Dreaming & Working Together, LLC”, which provides medical aid to his native Peru. His goal in life was to find a way to give back to his home community and with this program; he was able to decide how he would do just that. With this organization, he’s able to bring skills of physicians as well as the equipment needed to help improve people’s health conditions. He turned to Hanger Clinic, one of the leading firms in prosthetics and orthotics for help.

Four years ago, the program was opened to graduate students involved in the University of Hartford’s Masters in P&O (MSPO) program or their Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy (DPT).

Each year since 2012, two students from the P&O program and two from the Physical Therapy program were carefully chosen based on their academics, skills, and clinical training to participate in the week long trip to Peru.

This past February, second year MSPO students Graham Rech and Missy Reilly were chosen to participate in the trip along with DPT students Bobby Giuliani and Alexis Hutchings. Together, these four students traveled along with university alumni and Professor Paul Armstrong, an adjunct faculty member of the P&O program and Prosthetsist at Hanger Clinic.

The rest of their team of seventeen consisted of other Hanger Clinic prosthetists as well as physicians and clinicians from Hartford Hospital.

The trip took place from February 21st to February 28th. The team worked closely with the Hospital Naciónal Daniel Alcides Carrion in Lima to create custom prosthetic molds for the various amputees to send ahead of their trip so they would be prepared and ready to start when they got to the area.

During their time spent in Peru, the students were given the role of a clinician for the week and were assigned patients to mold and fit with prosthetics. The students were amazed at how the physicians worked with them and the amount of trust that they instilled in them to get the job done.

Rech mentioned in an interview that he was one of the first people to actually enter the gymnasium where the amputees awaited the team’s arrival.

“They all just started clapping, cheering, and hollering," he said. "It was just an overwhelming experience.”

"There was a guy named Felix and he was one of the upper extremity amputees," Reilly said. “He came up to me and was like 'Look look, I can write my name and I can draw these numbers,' and it was like he signed his name better than I can sign my name.”

“We had this one patient who was a bilateral below the knee amputee, who was 80 years old," Rech said. "He hadn't walked in three years and he was just so eager to get up out of his wheelchair. He was so grateful for us to be coming there, taking time out of our lives to come and help him.”

For more information and to see photos from the trip, please visit the link below:

-Joe Prinke, STN Channel 2 News

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