International Experiences

2017 December Mission to Playa Azul, Costa Rica

The 2017 Costa Rica CMMSA International Team at Bajo Capulin village school.
PT and OT Teams at work during the clinic set up at the Bajo Capulin School. The USA Alumni on the December 2017 Mission: Brenton Anderson PT (2016), Leslie Anderson OT (2015), Dennis Fell PT (1993), Jennifer Melancon PT (2012). The week-long 2017 health-professions study abroad interprofessional mission/service trip to Playa Azul, Costa Rica, was developed and led by partnership between the University (Dr Dennis Fell) and Christian Medical Ministry of South Alabama (CMMSA) (Director Duane Baxter).  The trip was definitely interprofessional with PT, OT, PA, RN and MD students participating together in community clinics, with supervision, learning “about, from, and with” other health professions. 

Brenton instructs a PT student in assessment of the knee. The PT Team provides intervention and a rolling walker to this lady with Parkinson Disease. The rehab clinics were supervised by PT faculty Dr Dennis Fell, and two USAPT alumni, Jennifer Melancon (2012) and Brenton Anderson (2016), and occupational therapist Leslie Anderson (2015) with PTAs Joanna Atwell and Joshua Verde, along with other licensed nurses, nurse practitioners, EMTs, PAs, and physicians.  The team of 38 individuals, including 24 health professions students from the Colleges of Allied Health, Nursing and Medicine (PT,OT,PA,RN,MD) contributed a total of 1,210 volunteer hours in community clinics over four days, providing both medical care (MD,RN,PA) and rehabilitation intervention (PT,OT) to 356 patients. The rehab team provided therapy to improve motor function, and functional training across the spectrum of patient types and ages.  We were also able to give assistive devices and braces/orthotics to many who needed them, provide theraband for exercise, teach home exercise programs, and provide education regarding both the rehabilitation process and prevention.  One elderly lady with Parkinson Disease, who required the help of two people to  walk into the clinic, received some functional intervention, and training in home activities and was provided a rolling walker, and was then able to walk out of the clinic independently and with larger functional steps in her gait pattern. As usual many students state that this was the most significant interprofessional experience of their professional education.

2016 Mission to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic

2016 Mission to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic

The University of South Alabama Physical Therapy Department, in collaboration with Christian Medical Ministry of South Alabama (CMMSA) Director Duane Baxter, led in developing the fourth international interprofessional mission/service trip to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic, 12/10 – 12/17, 2016.  Dr Dennis Fell was the faculty leader and rehab director on the trip with additional clinical supervision in the interprofessional clinics by five other physical therapists (including USAPT alumni Kim Enlow Baxter ('96) and Tracey Coale ('96) and Lauren Roberts ('16) and two MDs, one PA (USAPA alumnus Caitlin Mosley), one nurse practitioner from USAMC, one nurse, and one pharmacist from USAMC.  The team of 57 individuals, including 40 healthcare students (PT,OT, PA, and MD) contributed a total of 1,881 volunteer hours in remote village clinics over four days, providing both medical care (MD,RN,PA,Pharm) and rehabilitation intervention (PT,OT) to 337 patients. Many students reported that this was the most significant and meaningful interprofessional experience of their education.  We were able to provide medicine from our formulary to those with hypertension, diabetes, infections, and many other health conditions, while patients with rehabilitation needs received training in exercises that can have an long-term effect, education in management and prevention of movement-related dysfunction and musculoskeletal pain, and donated equipment to improve independence and safety.

2015 Mission to Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad

2015 Mission to Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad
2015 Mission to Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad2015 Mission to Port-Of-Spain, TrinidadDr Fell and the PT Department led the study abroad portion of the interprofessional mission/service trip developed in collaboration with CMMSA Director Duane Baxter, partially funded by a USA Interprofessional Health Sciences grant. Clinical supervision in the interprofessional clinics was provided by Drs. Bob Moore and Tonia Beverley (both of Audiology), Dr Matt Day (also of Phys Ther), and Dr Alana Schilthius (Medicine) and eight other licensed professionals in PT (three USAPT alumni Kim Enlow Baxter, Darius McAfee, Jennifer Melancon), PA (two USAPA alumni), nursing and medicine. The team of 53 individuals, including 31 healthcare students (PT,OT,AuD,PA,RN,MD) contributed a total of 1,530 volunteer hours in community clinics over four days, providing both medical care (MD,RN,PA) and rehabilitation intervention (PT,OT,AuD) to 436 patients. An ongoing interprofessional education research project, received funding from an internal Health Sciences Interprofessional Grant. In preliminary evaluation of data, many students commented that this was the most significant interprofessional experience of their education. Kadeon was a 2-year old with Spain Bifida served on this trip. After his PT evaluation, we had a used pair of HKAFO braces that miraculously fit him with a few adjustments (just the right length for each hinge joint, and a good fit in the calf and footplate). He was able to stand for the first time in his life! We obtained a posterior pediatric walker and shipped to be transported for Kadeon by a team going to this same location a month later for follow-up and continuity.

2014 Mission to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic

2014 Mission to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic
2014 Mission to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic The Department of Physical Therapy joined forces with the campus student organization Christian Medical Ministry of South Alabama (CMMSA) to sponsor a 9-day mission service trip to Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic as an official University study-abroad experience in December 2014.  PT Department Chair Dr Dennis Fell and faculty member Dr Matt Day joined Beth Huffmaster (trauma nurse practitioner at the University Hospital) and CMMSA Director Duane Baxter (alumnus of the BMD department), along with primary care health providers who live in Dominican Republic, to lead a team of 25, including physical therapy students, occupational therapy students, physician assistant studies students, and medical students.  And the team worked alongside local healthcare workers to provide healthcare and hope to the people of the southern Dominican Republic, primarily in the region around San Pedro de Marcoris.

The team provided medical and rehabilitation care to individuals in underserved communities with limited access to healthcare.  With support from SCORE International, temporary clinics were set up in churches in the villages of Quarenta Uno (41), Monte Cristy, Villa Verde, Boca Chica, and Ulloa, while also providing treatment to residents of the nursing home in Monte Cristy.  With support of funds and resources raised by the team, they were able to give, as needed, rehabilitation equipment (donated by Goodwill Easter Seals), TheraBand (from Performance Health), medications from a variety of partners, vitamins and clothes/shoes, in addition to the healthcare. The team also provided education to staff members, patient education, and home exercise/activity programs for sustainability.  The students reported real joy in serving others and commented on the value of the intensive interprofessional growth and healthcare team-experience and the opportunity to blend their faith with practice; and the faculty were excited to see the students implement their professional skills while meeting real needs.   Everyone agreed that the team got more out of the experience than those who were served, just being there and caring for others. All total, the 25-team members provided 950 volunteer hours of service addressing specific needs of over 300 patients!  


2013 Mission/Service Trip to Dominican Republic

2013 Mission/Service Trip to Dominican RepublicThe USA PT Department partnered with Christian Medical Ministry of South Alabama (CMMSA) for a mission/service trip to Juan Dolio Dominican Republic in August 2013.  The students will have designation as an official University Study Abroad experience on their transcript for the experience.  Ashley Wells PT (PT class of 2005), Mary Bounds PT (PT class of 2007), and Diane Pitts PT (PT class of 1986), and Maria Barriero PT joined Dennis Fell PT (PT class of 1993) to lead a group of 9 PT students from the class of 2014 on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. We provided care and did community clinics in a local hospital two day, two separate nursing homes, and set up a village clinic in a local church in a very small community.  The 15-team members screened and provided physical therapy services and personal care to 141 patients for a total of 455 service hours.

2013 Mission/Service Trip to Dominican RepublicOur team included 9 DPT 3rd-year students, with clinical supervision by two PT faculty, two PT alumni and and one local PT clinician (fluent in Spanish), and the trip coordinator Duane Baxter (also a USA alumnus) from CMMSA (Christian Medical Ministry of South Alabama).  The students say that the experience transformed their lives while being able to serve others.  They gained an appreciation for how much we have in the US, and how content people can be with far less.  They were very glad to be able to practice their clinical skills while sharing their faith.  The language barrier was an issue but with translators, though still difficult, they were able to overcome and communicate.  Body language, combined with a little Spanish vocabulary goes a long way.  And many of them commented on how kind the Dominicans were.  Contrary to expectations, people are people everywhere.

You can view the blog the students wrote to see more details. You can view Dr. Fell’s facebook page to view his favorite Dominican Republic photos.

2012 Service Trip to Guatemala

2012 Service Trip to Guatemala
Service Trip to Guatemala Service Trip to Guatemala Twelve students from the Class of 2013 (Kayla Braddock, Matt Howell, Jessica Isacson, Morgan Jackson, Caroline Mayer, Melanie McDonald, Caitlin Oliver, Katie Peavy, Coral Quinn, Amanda Schermerhorn, Katherine Strickland, Madison Walker) planned and executed a service trip to La Antigua, Gautemala, in cooperation with Maximo Nivel.  Some students worked with pediatric patients at a Catholic church (mostly orphans, many with CP, who had been left at the church) and others did geriatrics, especially patients with general debility and strokes.  In both facilities, patients were lined up in wheelchairs in a courtyard waiting for therapy, the only activity many of them would get during the day.  The group also donated many supplies to the facilities. 

They also spent time in very poor neighborhoods in neighboring towns, playing with kids (soccer, jump rope, sidewalk chalk, playing with balloons).  The group enjoyed excursions to climb a volcano, make coffee at a coffee plantation, zip line, and see a volcano erupt at night! 

The group thought it was an amazing trip, growing united as a group, One student said "It made us very grateful for what we have, not just material things but for our families, education, and resources."

Dr. Dennis Fell Sabbatical in South Korea 2010-2011

2010-2011 South Korea Service Trip After decades of international collaboration, and as the result of several years of networking with physical therapy colleagues in South Korea, Dr Fell was invited to spend a sabbatical year at Daegu University in Daegu, South Korea.  The Trustees approved his sabbatical and he says that his Korean adventure, Fall 2010 and Spring 2011, spent in Daegu. South Korea (pop 2 million) with his wife Noel, was stimulating, rewarding, productive, rejuvenating, and personally very fulfilling.  One of the most refreshing aspects for him was being away from the administrative Chair’s role for the past year.  
  2010-2011 South Korea Service Trip
While being immersed in a new culture and a new language, he was involved in undergraduate (entry-level) and graduate PT education (teaching all his lectures in English), collaborated in research with Daegu University PT faculty, had opportunities to speak in regional and Asia settings, and added significantly to his scholarly record.  He kept family and friends abreast of his activities through daily Facebook posts, monthly photo updates and occasional blogging (which he hopes to continue as he reflects on the experience retrospectively).
  2010-2011 South Korea Service Trip
In addition to physical therapy courses he taught, he and his wife volunteered during the lunch hour three days a week for English conversation groups with the Korean PT students and established many friendships.  They hosted many groups of students for an "American meal" in their small three-room dorm, making fabulous memories.  They lived in the International dorm on campus, rode bus/subway/walking/bicycle everywhere they went (never drove the whole ten months), tried many new foods, enjoyed the hot springs and steam rooms, participated in Kimjang (making kimchi – with the Jeong family), enjoyed Chuseok Korean Thanksgiving with the Kim family, and experienced their first "real winter" with temperatures dropping one time to 1°F.  We even got to meet some of the former USA ESL students with whom we had been conversation partners.  They had many opportunities to travel with friends and explore and enjoy the natural beauty and outdoors of Korea, including hiking on ten different mountains and many national parks in South Korea, as well as trips to the beautiful Island of Jeju with Halla Mountain, the East Sea, the southern coast (Busan), and Islands of the Western coast.  In all their activities, they were able to pursue their passion for birding and identified 83 new species of birds, most unique to Asia!

In the context of the friendship and collaboration with faculty and students, he had many opportunities to share his Christian faith, and Biblical truths to guide life, including the Crown Financial Bible Study teaching wise principles for handling the money God entrusts to us.  He was particularly pleased, in his many interactions with students, to be able to stimulate graduate and undergraduate students at Daegu to "think big, and become the best" in clinical expertise and academic preparation for their future, and to become future leaders of the PT profession in Korea and around the globe.  Many students are now very interested in pursuing higher degrees in the US with hopes for successful academic careers.

Dr. Fell speaks at Asia Confederation for Physical Therapy (ACPT) Conference in Bali, IndonesiaHe was an invited speaker at three different Universities in Korea, keynote speaker for the Korean Physical Therapy Association national student conference, and spoke at the Asia Confederation for Physical Therapy (ACPT) Conference in Bali, Indonesia.

Overall, Dr. Fell summarizes "It was a fabulous experience in Korea.  The culture, the food and particularly the people were so wonderful!  It really couldn’t have been any better for us.  We are already planning future visits to see all of our friends in South Korea." 

Department Presence at WCPT International Conferences

1995, Washington, DC

  • Scholarly presentations by Dr Dennis Fell, Dr Charles Gray, Dr John Jefferson, and Dr Jim Wall

1999, Yokohama, Japan

  • Scholarly presentations by Dr Dennis Fell

2003, Barcelona, Spain

  • Scholarly presentations by Dr Barry Dale, Dr Dennis Fell

2007, Vancouver, BC, Canada

  • Scholarly presentations by Dr Dennis Fell, Dr John Jefferson

2011, Amsterdam, Netherlands

  • Scholarly presentations by Dr Dennis Fell, Dr Coral Gubler, Dr John Jefferson, Dr Elisa Kennedy. Dr Jean Irion contributed to a study that was presented by Neville C.
  • Workshop “Interventions for Stability Aspects of Motor Control:  Developmental and Neurologic Disorders Across the Lifespan” taught by Dr Dennis Fell with Dr Deb Nervik and Monica Diamond


Other International Lectures

Dr. Coral Gubler

  • Invited course instructor "Special Implications for Physical Activity in those with CVD and stroke" Daegu University, South Korea.  May 20, 2011
  • Invited course instructor "Physical activity and exercise prescription in those with CVD and stroke." Daegu University, South Korea.  May 22, 2011.
  • Invited course instructor "Exercise testing for those with CVD and stroke". Daegu, South Korea. August 2011.

Dr. Dennis Fell

  • Lecture and Presentation at University of Pretoria Centenary Celebration Conference, South Africa. Oct 2008.
  • Invited Lecturer Daegu University (Daegu) and Silla University (Busan) "Motor Control PT Examination" in South Korea, May 2009.
  • Invited Lecturer Daegu University (Daegu) and Korea University (Seoul) "Motor Control PT Interventions" in South Korea, Oct 2009.
  • Presentation at 11th International Congress of the Asian Confederation for Physical Therapy.  "Determining How Physical Therapists Get Their Information to Support Clinical Practice" (Fell, D.W., Burnham, J.F., Castjohn, D.M., Dockery, J.M., Smith, J.A.). Bali, Indonesia, October 10-13, 2010.
  • Invited Lecturer "Advances in PT Education and PT Practice in the USA." Youngdong Univ, Youngdong, South Korea, November 19, 2010.
  • Invited Keynote Speaker. "Physical Rehabilitation of the Patient with Stroke: Facilitating Motor Recovery and Restoring Real Life". Daegu Univ. College of Rehabilitation Sciences Colloquium, Daegu, South Korea,  November 30, 2010.
  • Invited Lecturer.  "Motor Control in Physical Therapy:  Examination and Intervention". Silla University, Busan, South Korea, March 18, 2011 and March 21, 2011.
  • Invited Lecturer. "Physical Therapists are THE Movement Specialists!"
  • Movement Analysis…a roadmap for the future of PT in Korea”, Daegu Univ, Daegu, South Korea, May 19, 2011.
  • Invited Keynote Speaker. "Physical Therapists are THE Movement Specialists! Movement Analysis…a roadmap for the future of PT in Korea". Korean Physical Therapy Association (KPTA) National Student Conference. Pohang, South Korea, May 28, 2011.
  • Invited Lecturer.  "Motor Control in Physical Therapy:  Examination and Intervention". Taiwan National University, Taipei, Taiwan. 9/21/2011.
  • Invited Lecturer.  "Motor Control in Physical Therapy:  Examination and Intervention". Youngdong University, Youngdong, South Korea. 10/21/2011.
  • Invited Lecturer.  "Motor Control in Physical Therapy:  Examination and Intervention". Sahmyook University, Seoul, South Korea. 10/24/2011.
  • Invited Keynote Speaker for Daegu International Rehabilitation Science Institute.  "Amazing Human Anatomy: Science of created human body, studied through the ages, subject of artists". Daegu University, Daegu, South Korea. 10/26/2011.
  • Invited Speaker, Graduation Ceremony.  "Become Your Best". Daegu University, Daegu, South Korea. 10/28/2011.

Dr. Elisa Kennedy

  • Invited Speaker: "Current Perspectives on Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD): Translating Evidenced-based Practice across Diverse School-based Settings", Educational and Developmental Intervention Services (EDIS) Rota Naval Air Station, Rota, Spain, March 11, 2013.