Dr. Nicole S. Hignojoz is a full-time faculty member in the
Physical Therapy department at Chapman University
and she recently returned from her second visit to El Salvador, where she is helping advance physical therapy.
Hignojoz was invited by the
United Cerebral Palsy Organization
and a physical therapist from UCLA Hospital (also a former faculty member of Chapman University), to help train a total of 150 physical therapists and physicians in the advancement of neuro rehabilitation.
The next phase of the group’s commitment is an advanced hands-on training session in neuro rehabilitation after an individual has suffered a stroke, brain injury, cerebral palsy or similar. This next step will include taking to an international setting the structure of the Chapman Physical Therapy program
Stroke Boot Camp
, started by
Alison McKenzie, PT, DPT, PhD
. In addition, the group is in collaboration with the main El Salvador University to improve the curriculum’s structure and content in order to advance the skills of the graduating clinicians.
Another common goal is to help start a Physical Therapy Association in El Salvador in order to promote collaboration, evidence-based medicine, and a common voice for the physical therapists of El Salvador. Having a national association provides physical therapists the opportunity to come together and share ideas, cases, research, and progress towards professional goals.
Continued education for the clinicians after graduation is a scarce resource in Central America. According to Hignojoz, “the clinicians in El Salvador are treating patients based on older research and studies (from the 1970′s and 1980′s). The course that we provided was an opportunity to advance the knowledge of the physical therapists based on current research. Therefore, the clinicians can treat their patients with more effective methods and maximize patient function.”