Wednesday through Friday we participated in Interprofessional Practice (IPP) once again at the Ambrose Academy. Learners who attend that school have diagnoses ranging from Autism to cerebral palsy to Down Syndrome. Primarily we saw kids with Autism who have difficulty communicating, I will attempt to describe what these screenings entail. As I have written in previous blogs, we have at least one audiologist, speech language pathologist, and physical therapist in each interdisciplinary team for a total of 3 teams. At Ambrose we had an hour with each child by appointment. I specifically mention ‘by appointment’ because appointments seemingly are a rarity with our last screening experiences. It was much more fluid and we were a well-functioning team.
Our first experiences with IPP were choppy and rough. We screened people at schools, in the villages, and at a physio clinic (physical therapy in Botswana). Our professors kept pushing us to screen together. When conducting the screens, typically PT would come in and screen, then SLP, and then audiology. Our professors kept pushing us to do the screens together, they would say, “While PT’s doing their screen SLP can check vocalization and audiology can assess hearing.” If I am being honest, I was skeptical of the feasibility of a fluid and accurate screen being conducted by 3 separate disciplines. As it was, the profs kept pushing, “interdisciplinary practice, IPP, and IPP.” At Ambrose Academy the teams were all functioning in the ideal manner. PT was screening upper extremity function while audiology was conducting their hearing screen. While SLP was accessing speech production, PT could have them roll a ball. Interestingly to me as a PT student, having the children request the ball with verbalization required effort in cognition and speech production that I would have never considered. I was amazed to see the harmony my team achieved mastering the integration of three disciplines in a screen. Admittedly having a set schedule and an idea of the type of patient (mostly autistic pediatric children at Ambrose Academy) made the transition much smoother and easier.
Ambrose Academy is also the place at which the stander (picture featured) was unveiled. The stander is a project that PT student Shandra Hamilton and PT professor Janice Howman had been working on for over a year. The stander is Shandra’s cap stone project, the culmination of the three years of PT school, shipping something so large to Africa and getting it here on time was an endeavor in and of itself. Shandra and Janice collaborated with Ohio University’s engineering department to design the stander with materials readily available in Botswana. The stander included instructions (at no cost) and materials needed (at minimal cost) to recreate the stander in country. Makayla and myself were also able to help with delivery and build execution of “Project Standing Frame” as Shandra so termed it. When the standing frame arrive we all were very eager to put it back together, see in one piece again, and be put to use. After watching the instructional videos taken before leaving the state on how to re-build this engineering masterpiece, I was able to get my hands on some tools and help whip the stander back into shape. Shandra’s flawless presentation prowess was on display as she demonstrated proper utilization of the stander to the Ambrose Academy. It is safe to say that she left an impression on the teachers at the academy, one teacher even wanted to name her daughter after Shandra. The stander is so important and vital for children who are unable to stand on their own. Stander’s have been shown to improve bone mass density in the lower extremity. While stander’s do not directly impact the ability to walk, walking requires higher bone mass density in the legs and research has shown that standers can increase bone mass density. There are several children at the academy and around the nation of Botswana who will benefit from this affordable and quality design. We are honored to be a part of the work of the engineers at Ohio University, Shandra and Professor Janice Howman’s impact on the entire country.