Second-year students in UConn’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program got first-hand patient care experience working at a daylong wellness fair. Held at the Court House Wellness and Fitness Center (CHFW) in Vernon, the event was planned by students who, with the help and guidance of their professor, designed and carried out all aspects of the fair. It gave them the opportunity to not just organize a large-scale event, but to consider the various aspects of wellness people need to practice and integrate for optimal health.
The fair marked the culmination of “DPT 5431: Prevention, Health Promotion, Fitness and Wellness.” This new class was developed in response to an increased awareness in the role physical therapists can play in health promotion. At the fair, students manned stations that checked vital signs, offered balance checks, shared information about the role of exercise and nutrition in overall health, and offered preventive exam guidelines, among other services.
According to Clinical Assistant Professor in Residence Susan Glenney, effective physical therapists commit to following American Physical Therapy Association guidelines that require clinicians work to “restore, maintain, and promote not only optimal physical function, but optimal wellness and fitness and optimal quality of life, as it relates to movement and health.”
Preparing for the fair required the 16 doctoral students to conduct a needs and market analysis, publicize the event, and execute all other aspects related to ensuring that it would be both beneficial and well attended.
“CHFW offers many fitness classes that are geared toward seniors, so we knew that having the fair there would target a population that would truly benefit from receiving health promotion and preventive screenings like blood pressure checks, as well as receiving important information about fall prevention,” Glenney says.
The DPT program is part of the Department of Kinesiology, housed within the Neag School of Education.
For DPT student Abby Gordon, the event was more than worthwhile: “I liked having the opportunity to discuss wellness and disease prevention with the community and hope that the information we provided will help participants to either get checked by their doctor or to alter their exercise regimen to improve their health.”