I use my PT training to help my community

By Chelsea Barron, Student, Department of Physical Therapy

Chelsea Web

Movement is freedom: That’s a truth I have encountered many times in life.

It was true when a back injury sidelined me from my high school soccer team and I watched in agony as my teammates competed without me.

It was true when a woman in the fitness class I taught transformed her sedentary lifestyle into a healthy, active one and become a fitness instructor herself.

And it was true when an elderly woman I met through a fall prevention program felt confident enough in her balance to take a morning walk again.

Experiences like these motivate me – and my classmates – as we study physical therapy at UNT Health Science Center. Our goal is to one day use our skills and knowledge to help people recapture and maintain their freedom to move.

Actually, we already do this in our community, though many people don’t realize it.

UNTHSC physical therapy students participate in A Matter of Balance, an award-winning program in Tarrant County that teaches people over 60 exercises that increase strength, flexibility and balance and reduce their fear of falling.

Some of us perform fall risk screenings tests on older people at the Senior Synergy Expo. Our tests allow us to determine who is at statistical risk of falling – even if they haven’t fallen yet – and discuss the results and share prevention tips.

Some of us teach yoga to children at Como Elementary School and assemble healthy food kits at Tarrant Area Food Bank. Many of us volunteer at Joe’s Run, the race that benefits Samaritan House. PT students do health screenings at the Cowtown Expo and help families impacted by domestic violence at Safe Haven of Tarrant County.

Often we don’t appreciate the freedom of movement until we lose it to injury or illness. Sometimes the loss of movement is slow. We just move less and less until suddenly we can move no more.

What does it mean to regain that movement? It means a high school soccer player is free to run back onto the field. It means a previously unhealthy woman is free to teach a fitness class. It means an elderly woman is free to take a walk on a sunny morning.

My classmates and I are committed to keeping you free.

***

Chelsea Barron is a 2nd-year physical therapy student and former UNTHSC Assistant Director of Health Promotion.

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