Physical Therapy Student Practices in Haiti Over the Summer

Sara Pitcher, a Hillsborough resident and student in the doctor of Physical Therapy program at The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, helped patients at two clinics in Haiti this summer, along with Dr. Mary Lou Galantino, professor of Physical Therapy in the School of Health Sciences and Dr. Galantino’s daughter, Madi Pack, 13.

Sara worked with Global Therapy Group and Haiti Family Initiative to provide physical therapy care for the people of Port-Au-Prince and Jacmel, Haiti, an experience she called “amazing.”

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Sara Pitcher working on motor skills with a pediatric patient in Haiti this summer

Sara said she first got interested in volunteering in high school, when she went on church mission trips throughout the U.S., and to Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

The July 21-Aug. 3 project included working with physical and occupational therapists, doctors and nurses from various countries, studying traditional healing practices and doing research that is continuing now that they are back.

“I am very grateful to everyone at Stockton College who made this trip possible, especially Dr. Mary Lou Galantino,” Sara said.

Sara and Dr. Galantino helped victims of the 2010 earthquake and individuals with chronic disease including musculoskeletal issues, HIV, high blood pressure and stroke, and other diagnoses. Many Haitians lost limbs to the quake, and still need physical or occupational therapy. Many children there have developmental disabilities as well, they found.

The three spent the second week at Jacmel, about four hours from Port-Au-Prince, working with the Haiti Family Initiative, based in Wilmington, DE.

There Sara and Dr. Galantino worked with a team of physicians, nurses, social workers offering physical therapy wellness programs and targeting women’s and children’s health issues.

Emily Bessemer, another student in the doctor of Physical Therapy program who is from Brick in Ocean County, helped with the research. “She was instrumental in doing a lot of the leg work on where we should go and serve,” Dr. Galantino said.