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Special Olympics Athletes Work with Pima Medical Students During State Summer Games

Posted: May 23, 2017 by Missy McDougal-Plese and Tim Landon
Physical Therapist Assistant students from Pima Medical Institute work with Special Olympic athletes in Albuquerque.
 


On May 20, several dental hygiene and physical therapist assistant students from Pima Medical Institute’s Albuquerque campus spent time working with Special Olympics athletes during the State Summer Games at the University of New Mexico.

The students provided athletes with oral hygiene instruction, strength, endurance and balance testing and other services.

The Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for people with intellectual disabilities.  Since the inception of Special Olympics in 1968, the program’s mission has focused on creating opportunities for special athletes and their families and to inspire others and facilitate community acceptance to diverse individuals through the use of sports.

Dental Hygiene Students Help Athletes with Oral Healthcare

Pima Medical’s dental hygiene students participated in Special Olympics, Special Smiles (SOSS)—a global oral-health education, screening and referral program offered in partnership with Special Olympics events.

Pima Medical Institute students volunteer at Special Olympics in Albuquerque A Dental Hygiene student teaches an athlete at the Special Olympics techniques on proper brushing.
There were six dental hygiene faculty members, 36 dental hygiene students and nine dental hygiene alumni volunteer at the event. Students provided oral hygiene education and assisted registered dental hygienists and dentists in collecting oral health data, for a total of 223 completed screenings.

Encouraging our students to volunteer serves multiple purposes, but the primary goal is to increase the number of dental professionals who are willing to provide dental treatment to special populations after graduation and upon practicing in the field. Student and faculty volunteers overwhelmingly report that the experience is very satisfying and allows them to utilize their dental hygiene knowledge in a fun and festive environment.

As part of SOSS, athletes receive complementary dental screenings from dental professionals who volunteer their expertise. Data is collected, and those athletes that have dental needs (cleanings, fillings, extractions, etc.) are referred to local dental providers for treatment.

Pima Medical Institute students volunteer at Special Olympics in Albuquerque Dental Hygiene students show off the stuffed animals they use--complete with a full set of teeth--to teach proper oral hygiene.
Patients with special needs often have challenges related to their dental health: malocclusions, congenital defects that affect the number, shape and size of teeth, drooling, bruxism, swallowing difficulties, side effects of medications, and lack of dexterity/motor skills that inhibit tooth brushing and flossing can all affect their health.

Pima Medical Institute’s Albuquerque campus Dental Hygiene Clinical Director, Lisa Esparza, RDH, MS  has coordinated with SOSS in New Mexico for the past 20 years. She has recruited multiple dental agencies, organizations, dental providers, dental hygiene faculty members and students throughout the years to ensure the event is successful.

Pima Medical Institute students volunteer at Special Olympics in Albuquerque Dental Hygiene students from Pima Medical Institute's Albuquerque campus volunteered at the Special Olympics on May 20, where they helped athletes with oral hygiene.


Physical Therapist Assistant Students Help with Endurance and Strength

Also during the State Summer Games, physical therapist assistant students helped more than 100 athletes during Healthy Athletes FUNfitness, an event developed in collaboration with the American Physical Therapy Association for the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes program. FUNfitness assess needs in flexibility, strength, balance and aerobic fitness. There is an educational component provided by licensed physical therapists (PT) and physical therapist assistants (PTA).

Pima Medical Institute students volunteer at Special Olympics in Albuquerque Physical Therapist Assistant students from Pima Medical Institute's Albuquerque campus helped athletes during the Special Olympics on May 20.
Fourteen PTA students participated in the event, providing much needed manpower to staff the many stations the Special Olympics athletes visited. Students practiced their goniometer skills, measuring range of motion of the ankles, knees, hips, and shoulders. 

PTA students also assessed athlete balance, strength and endurance. Measurements were completed under the supervision of interim PTA Program Director Tim Landon, PT, as well as other PTs from the Albuquerque community.

Family members were welcome to attend and provided support with athlete registration.  Additionally, students from the University of New Mexico’s physical therapy program were also present, providing PTA students the opportunity to interact with other students in the Albuquerque community.

It was a busy, meaningful day for both Pima Medical students and Special Olympics athletes alike.

Pima Medical Institute students volunteer at Special Olympics in Albuquerque Physical Therapist Assistant students from Pima Medical Institute's Albuquerque campus helped athletes during the Special Olympics on May 20.
 
 
Melissa (Missy) McDougal-Plese, RDH, MS serves as the Dental Hygiene Program Director for Pima Medical Institute’s Albuquerque Campus. She played an essential part in the curriculum development and programmatic design, which lead to the accreditation of Pima Medical’s charter Dental Hygiene Program. She graduated with her associate degree, bachelor’s degree and master of science degree in Dental Hygiene from the University of New Mexico. A broad past of clinical experiences in multiple public and private settings has supported her academic endeavors.

Dr. Tim Landon, PT, DPT, DCE, is the Clinical Director for Pima Medical Institute's Physical Therapist Assistant program at the Albuquerque campus. Before entering education, Landon spent 15 years working primarily as a pediatric physical therapist in Alaska and in New Mexico. He graduated with a Master of Physical Therapy from Eastern Washington University and earned his transitional Doctor of Physical Therapy through the University of Montana.





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