Physical Therapy Students Travel to Jamaica to Care for Local Patients

Alexandria Nickles (left), a third-year doctoral physical therapy student at High Point University, uses manual therapy techniques to improve range of motion with a local man named Nodry, who is recovering from a stroke.


HIGH POINT, N.C., July 18, 2019 – A group of High Point University doctoral physical therapy students traveled to Jamaica for a medical mission trip to care for local patients.

The group of students were led by Dr. Renee Hamel, assistant professor of physical therapy in HPU’s Congdon School of Health Sciences. They partnered with For U, a nonprofit encouraging the healing process through involvement in spiritual, social, educational and health-related services in rural communities. The organization helps create awareness of the needs of underserved people in rural communities and provides opportunities to improve their quality of life.

HPU students attended a 10-day Neurological Patient Care Camp in Top Hill, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, where they provided free physical therapy treatment to patients with strokes, brain surgeries and spinal cord injuries.

“This experience allowed for both clinical and cultural growth,” said Emily Tower, a third-year physical therapy student at HPU. “The camp provided an opportunity to work with higher complexity patients and encouraged creativity with treatments using the resources available. The balance of structure and instruction to flexibility and creativity was ideal for third-year doctoral physical therapy student learning.”

Students also participated in several service projects that included performing home modifications and construction, delivering and putting together needed durable medical equipment, and taking their patients to the grocery store to buy food and household supplies.

“Compared to other students we worked with during our trip, I felt our group was more prepared and had more experience with neuro patients,” said Hope Caddell, a third-year doctoral physical therapy student at HPU. “HPU students were typically the ones leading the groups and coming up with ideas in our partnerships. That is a direct result of Dr. Hamel at HPU teaching us clinically how to treat patients and giving us hands on information to do so.”

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