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Mount Doctor of Physical Therapy students, professors and medical staff take a break from helping the homeless in Los Angeles. BR, L-R: Mount Associate Professor Valerie Teglia, director of clinical development in the DPT department; Antonio Vera, Union Rescue Mission staff, Paige Chenoweth, DPT student; Rosie Guerrero, Union Rescue Mission staff; Jennifer Aglubat, DPT student; and Candice Coker, DPT student. FR, left to right: Fernando Hernandez, URM staff; Krysta Caingcoy, DPT Student

Physical Therapy Students Bring Healing Power to Skid Row

Sept. 23, 2011 -- Students in the Mount's Doctor of Physical Therapy program have been part of a healing team for the homeless at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles since January as part of an all-volunteer outreach project.

Physical therapy services are offered in partnership with a mission medical clinic run by UCLA doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners. Mount students go to the mission once a week to evaluate new patients referred by the clinic and to provide care for ongoing patients.

The project has attracted 15 volunteers from the College since its beginnings. Students have seen more than 60 patients.

Mount students do the majority of the patient care, and they see nine to 12 cases on a typical day. After an evaluation of their needs, the patients are taught basic exercises and more efficient strategies for their daily functions. The challenge for the Mount students is identifying more realistic solutions for the people who come to the Union Rescue Mission for their medical needs. Several patients are being treated on an ongoing basis for ailments that range from joint pain to diabetic neuropathy.

"These are not your typical patients. Most of them have significant psychosocial history," said Mount Associate Professor Valerie Teglia, director of clinical development in the DPT program and coordinator of the outreach project.

"What can you do when you don't have a gym to go to -- when you don't even have access to a refrigerator for frozen peas (to help with pain)?" Teglia said. For one homeless woman who carried almost 60 pounds of her belongings with her wherever she went, the Mount students advised her to put those items in a shopping cart she can push around instead of carrying them all in several plastic bags.

For more on the Mount's DPT program, click here.

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