Occupational Therapy at the Equator

Before the excitement of the anniversary month began, two groups of Gannon University occupational therapy students traveled to Ecuador for unique and inspiring fieldwork experiences. 

The groups were invited by the Centro de Rehabilitación, Educación, Capacitación, Estudios y Recursos, Inc. (CRECER) in Ibarra, Ecuador, two hours by bus from the capital, Quito.

“Crecer” means “to grow” in Spanish, and the Gannon groups, 11 Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) students from the Ruskin campus accompanied by Kristin Valdes, OTD, and Dianna Lunsford, OTD, both assistant professors of occupational therapy; and eight students from the Erie campus, along with Amy Brzuz, OTD '98, assistant professor, and Julia Hawkins, OTD, adjunct lecturer, grew in skills and compassion during the trips.

“Here we have so much equipment and resources available to us, but there, even without these things, I think we were just as successful in providing occupational therapy to the clients and the people of Ibarra.”

CRECER is an OT clinic that provides access to health care services in under-served regions of Ecuador through education, treatment and research. The OT students provided occupational therapy services to clients with physical disabilities in a group home, a skilled nursing facility and an outpatient clinic. 

Even the faculty members came away with new knowledge. “Here we have so much equipment and resources available to us, but there, even without these things, I think we were just as successful in providing occupational therapy to the clients and the people of Ibarra,” Brzuz said. “The lesson that I took away from our trip is that less can be more.”