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Phone: 304-243-7201

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Email: dpt@wju.edu   or Call: 1-304-243-2068 

PT Graduates and Professors Help Mexican Village

    Semester break means fun and relaxation for most college students and professors. Two Wheeling Jesuit University alumni and their professors saw it as an opportunity to help others while experiencing what life is like in another culture. This foursome assisted residents with physical therapy needs in the small community of Merida, on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. In the group were Sarah Gehring and Kelly Capdeville, who graduated from WJU with PT degrees in December 2001, and Dr. Letha Zook, associate professor and former PT program director, and Mark Drnach, an assistant professor in the WJU PT program.

This trip was a very good experience for me on many levels," says Gehring. "I had just graduated and not yet begun working, so I enjoyed the opportunity to use newly learned skills. I also benefited from working alongside two professors for whom I have a great deal of respect."

The group worked in two different settings, el Patronato and the Albergue. The former is a school for children of all ages with disabilities, whereas, Albergue is a shelter for adults with disabilities.

At the Albergue, physicians come twice a week and the nurses have about one year of rehab training," explains Zook. "No one has been formally trained in physical therapy. Surprisingly, they treat their patients well considering the amount of training they have had and the limited resources with which they must work. There is a lot they need to know about the care of the disabled."

Drnach cites the experience gained as the opportunity for the students to put their education to work. The most valuable lesson? How to be creative and resourceful.

In Mexico, you create your own technology," he says. "You can't just order from a catalog."

Zook hopes to create an on-going service-learning site in Merida for WJU physical therapy students. 

A mission of the university and the PT department is to provide opportunities for our students to serve others while learning within a chosen profession," Zook says. "We want our students to have a global perspective in health care."

PTs Warn: Watch Windmill Windup

The pitcher toes the mound, eyes the catcher's sign and the batter's stance, then goes into her windmill pitch. Is it a strike? Maybe, but that pitch may also lead to serious injury. Enter the physical therapist.

While fast-pitch softball continues to gain in popularity, awareness of the potential for injuries caused by windmill pitching is relatively low, say two Wheeling Jesuit University physical therapy researchers, Carrie Abraham, PT, MPH, OCS, ACCE, and Jennifer Filtz, PT, DPT. Writing in the July/August 2002 issue of Physical Therapy magazine, they call the mounting injury numbers from the underhand pitching style "alarming."

   "PTs should be and are becoming more involved in pre-season screening of young athletes to prevent season or career-ending injuries," says Abraham, academic coordinator of clinical education in the WJU  Department of Physical Therapy. "Prevention depends primarily on proper pitching mechanics. However, many pitchers are unaware of their faulty mechanics until after an injury has occurred."

     Working with her research partner Jennifer Segner, a recent (2002) graduate of WJU's physical therapy program and a four-year starting softball pitcher at Muskingum College, New Concord, Ohio, Abraham has carefully analyzed each of the six steps in the windmill pitch.

     "An understanding of the general biomechanics of the windmill pitch and its associated injuries can help PTs correct pitching mechanics before injury or make a more complete diagnosis if injury has occurred," the teacher-student research team reports. "Greater understanding can also lead to more sport-specific rehabilitation, conditioning, and prevention."

     Although Abraham and Segner agree the biomechanically correct underhand windmill motion is a more natural and stable position for the shoulder, "it far from eliminates the potential for injury." Given the growing popularity of fast pitch softball as a sport, much more research is needed, they conclude.

    Just as prevention must depend upon proper pitching technique, rehabilitative treatment for injuries must take into consideration faults in technique, the researchers say. In general, rehabilitation is similar to other rotator cuff or overuse injury with some important differences: sport-specific retraining activities.

     "These (activities) need to focus on timing and the proper mechanics of each phase," says Abraham and Segner. "Break down each of the six specific phases from windup to release and follow through. Once these segmented mechanics are improved, the entire pitching motion can be gradually put back together."

     Treatment also should emphasize shoulder girdle strengthening because "these muscles fire consistently throughout the pitching motion and are at higher risk for trauma," says the researchers. "Any weakness in these muscles will directly alter the mechanics of the pitch and lead to other articular trauma." - Condensed from "Windmill Wake-up Call," Physical Therapy, July/August 2002, pps. 38-42.

Contact Us!!
Alumni, please let us know what you are up to.  Professional, personal, and any other items of interest that you would be willing to share should be sent to:

  Department of Physical Therapy 
  Wheeling Jesuit University
  316 Washington Ave.
  Wheeling, WV 26003
  mailto: dpt@wju.edu


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