Romanian Professionals Receive Educational Seminars from UNM Faculty

In response to educational needs of rehabilitation professionals in Romania, a four member team from the United States was recently invited to present seminars in Romania. The team included Patricia A. Burtner, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA, UNM Occupational Therapy Graduate Program, Charlotte Lough, MS, CCC-SLP, UNM Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Amy Shuckra, MS, PT formerly employed at UNM Carrie Tingley Hospital and currently employed at Shriner's Hospital in Salt Lake City, and Susan Parker, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota.

The goals of the educational seminars were to provide information about current research and practice for faculty members at two Romanian universities in the disciplines of Psychology, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology as well as for practitioners and students in these disciplines.

The two-day seminars were coordinated by Shuckra and Sebastian Koga M.D. of the Institutul Pentru Dezvoltarea Copilului (Institute of Child Development) in Bucharest. In the past five years, Dr. Koga and his colleagues have been involved in a multi-center research project studying the development of children in Romanian orphanages. The educational seminars are an extension of that project with funding support provided by the MacArthur Foundation, Johnson & Johnson and others to address the needs of professionals providing services to this population of children.

After their seminar in Timisoara University, the team traveled to Oradea in the western part of Romania. Here the team visited one of four Neuromotor Rehabilitation Centers in the country. Unlike services in the States, children and families travel to these institutions for extended periods of time to receive rehabilitation services. "In Romania, therapy practices were mostly manual therapy, such a massage and muscle stimulation. Here, we include more active forms of therapy such as helping children to strengthen weak muscles and teaching them skills to be independent in their self care and productivity" Burtner said. "Active exercise was a new concept to many therapists in Romania."

Speech therapy services were also limited in Romania with services provided mainly in the school settings for children four years and older. In contrast, speech services in the US are provided to individuals from birth through geriatrics in hospitals, clinics and community settings. In addition to the seminars, the US team brought books, equipment and taught the participants how to make there own equipment when costs are prohibitive. "In Romania, they do not have a lot of resources or information," Lough noted. "They wanted as much information as possible in our limited time there and for us to expand the depth of their current knowledge".

Educational seminars in Russia have also been provided by other UNM Health Sciences faculty members. Professionals and personnel employed by Russian orphanages have received seminars from Dr. John Phillips in the Department of Neurology, Dr. Rick Campbell, Department of Neuropsychology, and Heidi Sanders OTR/L, Department of Pediatrics through a similar international program.

Contact: Angela Heisel, 272-3322

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