The Belmont University School of Physical Therapy recently hosted two health professionals from Istituto Prosperius Tiberino, a 75-bed rehabilitation hospital in Umbria, Italy. Since 2012, nine Belmont physical therapy students have completed a clinical affiliation at the hospital, and three more students are scheduled for an eight-week clinical affiliation during the spring of 2015.
Istituto Prosperius provides both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for patients with neurological and orthopedic disorders and injuries in a team model of care which includes physicians, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech/language pathologists, nurses, art therapists, psychologists and social workers. The Istituto staff conducts ongoing research projects and pilots technological devices for the rehabilitation of neurological patients. The hospital serves as one of leading centers in Italy using robotic therapy to assist in ambulation for patients with spinal cord injuries. The facility also houses two large therapy pools for patients, one equipped with underwater steppers and treadmills.
Dr. Paolo Milia, Chair of the Department of Neurology and Neuro-rehabilitation Research at Istituto Prosperius, and Mike Arnall, a physical therapist and President of Eduglobal Associates, visited Belmont. Milia completed his medical degree at G. D’Annunzio University in Chieti, Italy, and earned a PhD in neurological research from the University of Perugia in Italy. Arnall founded Eduglobal in 2006 when he began developing clinical education opportunities for American physical therapy students. His company coordinates the selection, placement, orientation and evaluation of the physical therapy students with the numerous Italian clinical instructors on staff. Last year, 41 PT students completed clinical affiliations. Currently, 31 U.S. physical therapy programs have contracts with Eduglobal.
During the visit, Milia and Arnall gave a presentation to physical therapy and occupational therapy faculty and students about Istituto Prosperius, his typical caseload and robotic therapy research projects. The presentation included videos of patients using the Eksoskeleton. They met with Schools of Occupational Therapy, Nursing and Pharmacy to explore the possibility of students from those programs affiliating at the rehabilitation hospital in the future. Meetings were also scheduled with community partners to explore expanded roles and partnerships including Pi Beta Phi Rehabilitation Institute at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center and Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital.