Work Type



Fall 11-2-2019

Faculty Advisor

Holly Roberts, PT, DPT, GCS, NCS




Demographics and Treatment Strategies Utilized During a Service-Learning Trip to a Medically Underserved Region: Guatemala 2019

By Anna Chang, SPT, Alex Knapp, SPT, and Holly Roberts, PT, DPT, GCS, NCS

BACKGROUND: Students in the Global Health Perspectives in Physical Therapy elective at the University of Puget Sound participated in a five-day service-learning trip. They partnered with a host organization to provide physical therapy services in Zacapa, Guatemala.

PURPOSE: Synthesize demographic information and intervention plans to educate physical therapists and students to effectively evaluate and treat medically underserved populations abroad.

METHODS: Age, gender, physical therapy diagnosis, and type of intervention were recorded for each patient evaluated or treated by UPS students at rehabilitation clinics during the five-day period. Percentages were extrapolated from this data to reflect the frequency of each appointment type.

RESULTS: 106 patients were treated at five clinic sites with ages ranging from 4 months to 86 years old; 72% were orthopedic cases, 8.3% were neurological, and 20% were considered pediatric (ages 0 to 18). Neurologic categorization did not include pediatric diagnoses such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida. 54% of the population seen were female, 45% male. Therapeutic exercise was the most commonly utilized intervention (48% of cases), followed by manual interventions (35%). Medical supplies were provided for 17% of treated patients. Orthopedic cases were most common, 33% of conditions were for lower extremities, 36% involved upper extremity, 25% thoracic or lumbar pain, and 7% neck pain.

CONCLUSION: The results of this descriptive inquiry suggest that students who participate in future service-learning experiences in Guatemala should have a robust understanding of upper extremity examination as well as manual therapy and therapeutic exercise intervention skills.


University of Puget Sound