About 40 miles down the nearly 2,200-mile hiking trail at Mountain Crossing in Blairsville on Saturday, April 9, PCOM students assessed hikers’ injuries, providing musculoskeletal soft tissue work and education as needed to adventurers braving the journey.
“We’ve seen many hikers for massages, foot treatments, ankle sprains and lower back pain,” said PCOM student Jennifer Huh, who is expected to graduate in 2023. “Students had the chance to briefly assess hikers, provide massage, make recommendations for blister/wound care, educate hikers on proper footwear, and teach stretching techniques.
Brenau University faculty member Greg Patterson, PT, DPT, led the collaborative effort. PCOM students were supervised by Patterson, as well as PCOM faculty members Jeanne Welch, PT, DPT, Teresa Pierce, PT, DPT, and Elizabeth Chaffin, PT, DPT, ATC.
“I think it was a great experience,” said Austin Pack, who plans to complete his program in 2023. “It gave us the opportunity to assess and treat hikers/patients who passed. As we were all together, this allowed students to work side by side to use the critical thinking and application skills we have learned so far.
“Working in an atypical environment gave the experience even more meaning and diversity, especially for those of us who love being in nature,” added Pack. “Opportunities outside of the classroom to connect with real people who have movement dysfunctions are one of the best ways to learn in this profession.”
PCOM Georgia is a private, nonprofit campus of the accredited Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine offering a range of health-related degree programs.
The Appalachian Trail traverses 14 states from Georgia to Maine and welcomes more than 3 million visitors each year, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which oversees management and conservation of the hiking trail.