(From APTA PT News)
Many physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) have been involved with the Special Olympics over the years, but Donna Bainbridge, PT, EdD, ATC, has elevated that involvement in ways that stretch beyond the actual World Games now taking place in Los Angeles.
As part of its coverage of the event, ESPN.com correspondent Stephania Bell, PT, OCS, CSCS, caught up with Bainbridge to find out more about FUNfitness, the screening program Bainbridge developed with APTA that is now a central part of the Special Olympics' Healthy Athletes Program.
Bainbridge, former director of practice at APTA, explains how FUNfitness was developed and implemented at the 2001 games in Alaska, and how the program has grown from a 6-consultant program to a global operation that includes between 75 and 80 programs. This year, Bainbridge says in the interview, there could be as many as 200 volunteers at the games, working together to reach a goal of providing screenings to 60%-65% of all participating athletes.
For Bainbridge, the benefits of the program stretch beyond the immediate needs of the athletes at the games, and reach physical therapists and their home communities.
"I feel like we're changing the lives of the volunteers we train because even though all these physical therapists work with people with disabilities, this is not necessarily a group they would solicit," Bainbridge says. "I've heard many times that they go back much more aware and seek out working with these people in their practices and their communities."