Val Renault
Research and Training Center on Independent Living

KU researcher and student train Peruvian medical professionals in caring for people with spinal cord injury

Fri, 04/27/2012

LAWRENCE – University of Kansas researcher Glen W. White and University Honors Program student Sam Ho visited Lima, Perú, in March to teach medical rehabilitation professionals how to better care for patients with spinal cord injury.

People with such injuries often experience secondary health conditions such as pressure sores and urinary tract infections.

White is director of KU’s Research and Training Center on Independent Living and a professor of applied behavioral science. Ho is a sophomore majoring in biology and plans to attend medical school.

White previously delivered workshops to Peruvians with SCI about strategies to prevent and reduce the severity of secondary conditions. For this trip, he and Ho collaborated with health professionals from major medical rehabilitation centers in the United States to reframe the workshops for a new audience.

“We expect the benefits of this project can be much further amplified through the health care professionals who treat SCI patients versus just giving the workshop to those who have sustained a spinal cord injury,” White said.

About 65 people attended the sessions held in two locations in Lima, the Social Security Hospital and the Police Hospital. The audience included rehabilitation physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language therapists, psychologists and physical therapy students.

“We want these medical professionals to build capacity in Peru for understanding SCI and to eventually train their rehabilitation colleagues. To support this goal, we also provided a package of secondary condition training materials in Spanish and a facilitator's guide,” White said.

The first series of six workshops was March 15-25 in Lima. White conducted sessions on sexuality, depression, pressure sores, urinary tract infections and intestinal dysfunction. Ho developed and presented one session on obesity.

“The focus on rehabilitation and independent living isn’t anywhere near as great as it is in the U.S.,” Ho said. “Our workshops definitely helped to give them new knowledge.”

White will offer additional workshops later in Arequipa and Chiclayo, Peru. The project is supported by a Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grant through funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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