Imagine you could go to another country, help a group of people who have never had physical therapy (PT) services in their life, and simultaneously learn new clinical skills from students and physical therapists from around the country. Serving and learning. That’s what we’re all about!
We (Maria Muto and Sneha Gazi) started Physical Therapy International Service Foundation (PTIS), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that brings free PT to underserved populations while teaching students from PT schools around the world. We are extremely passionate about bringing these services around the globe to places where it is in need. In many countries, PT is either nonexistent or a form of luxury treatment. We are also equally passionate to learn and teach new ways of thinking as physical therapists. PTIS’s goals are twofold: service and education.
From March 3rd, 2018 to March 10th 2018, we conducted the first ever international service trip to Cervera Del Maestre, Spain. Taking 2 licensed physical therapists and 3 students across the country was no easy feat. Multiple phone discussions, virtual video chats, coordination, and organization took place over the course of 15 months. Through many hurdles, we finally succeeded in hosting fundraisers to sponsor the two licensed PTs that took time off of their full-time jobs to take part in this wonderful experience.
After discussions with the coordinator in Spain about the current patient population and demographics, we devised a plan for the service trip involving private and group treatment sessions, home visits, and educational workshops.
We treated 85 patients including pediatric patients from nearby schools, expatriates from neighboring towns, local villagers and manual laborers, geriatric patients from the old age facility, and new mothers. On the final day, the group presented educational workshops on ergonomics, health and wellness, back pain, and upper extremity pain to over 20 townspeople including school children and patients from previous treatment sessions.
We are thrilled to have more success with this trip than we could have ever imagined and we are fired up to start our own non-profit organization to keep doing what we love and expanding to more countries! The most important thing we learned: if we are truly passionate about something and know that it will make a difference in the world, stand up against the odds and do whatever it takes to make it happen.
If you are interested in learning more, joining us on a trip, or donating to our cause, please visit our website at www.pt-is.online or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out one of our reviews!
“My experience through the PT International Service trip was better than I could have ever expected. I felt as though I was really making a difference by improving each patient’s quality of life. I loved the opportunity to learn from each PT student and licensed PT as well. I think it’s incredibly important to continue learning and improving my skills as a clinician throughout my career, and this trip provided me with an opportunity to learn new examination techniques, manual skills, and interventions (among other things). Each of the PT students and licensed PTs was so helpful and willing to demonstrate different skills or answer any questions.”
– Emily Hockley, SPT