Springfield College Physical Therapy Professors Lead Global Health Service Trips


Springfield College Physical Therapy Professors Dawn Roberts and Kim Nowakowski led physical and occupational therapy students on global health service trips during the week of March 13 through March 17. For the third consecutive year, Roberts and the students spent their spring break as volunteers at the Haitian Foundation of Rehabilitation (FONHARE) clinic located in the town of Ouanaminthe. Nowakowski’s group assisted with the National Fall Prevention Program in Trinidad and Tobago. 

“Once again, we will go out into the local community to perform home assessments and to work with families on home modifications and family training to improve access to the community for individuals with disabilities,” said Roberts, who also supervised the trip to Haiti in 2015 and 2016. “Students provide evidence-based assessment and interventions for a variety of pathologies alongside local Haitian clinicians with the goal of expanding the skill set of the Haitian therapists. This is a great experience for Springfield College students who can learn while working side-by-side with clinicians at FONHARE.”

The Springfield College contingency in Haiti was invited by Dr. Ivens Louius, founder and director of FONHARE and a trained physical and occupational therapist, following multiple years of relationship building between Springfield College School of Health Sciences and Rehabilitation Studies Dean Dr. Julia Chevan, Roberts, and professionals at the clinic. FONHARE is a grassroots Haitian nonprofit organization with no political or religious affiliation that is dedicated to providing integrated physical and cognitive rehabilitation services to children and youth with disabilities in the northern region of Haiti, especially those with a poor quality of life living with limited resources regardless their socioeconomic condition. FONHARE is the only organization providing rehabilitation services in the northeast of Haiti to 13 cities with almost 500,000 citizens.

The National Fall Prevention program in Trinidad and Tobago is new this year, it was developed based on a needs assessment conducted with physiotherapists from Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited and the Physiotherapy Association of Trinidad and Tobago (PATT). PATT is the sole professional body that represents all physiotherapists in Trinidad and Tobago. PATT seeks to improve the overall health and wellness of our society through physiotherapy education, practice, professional and patient advocacy.  Total Rehabilitation Centre Limited was established in May 2007 to provide quality healthcare in a friendly, compassionate environment that is geared towards facilitating healing and ultimately return to the function of living.  Carla Rauseo, a 2005 alumna of the physical therapy program who is a physical therapist at Total Rehabilitation and a member of PATT, initiated the collaborative effort with Springfield College’s physical therapy program.  The National Fall Prevention Program will provide education and fall risk screenings to older adults at 4 different locations in Trinidad and Tobago. 

According to Dean Chevan, the global health service trips are “an opportunity for the enrolled students, to gain an understanding of global health issues, and the contrasts of the provision of healthcare and rehabilitative services in the United States to other countries.”