Faculty members Stephen B. Kern, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, (Occupational Therapy) and Louis Hunter, MS, PT, (Physical Therapy) and four OT students spent spring break on a learning program to El Centro de Rehabilitacion y Neurodesarrollo (The Center for Rehabilitation and Neurodevelopment), a pediatric facility in Cardenas, Cuba. The Jefferson group accompanied former faculty member, Debra Tupe, PhD, OTR, and some of her students from Columbia University. Jefferson OT faculty and students have traveled to this center previously, but Hunter is the first PT to join them.
The trip was offered to OT students participating in a series of environment courses. The goals of the visit were to share knowledge, exchange and demonstrate rehabilitation procedures and evaluate the structural and cultural aspects of healthcare delivery. Kern observed that although the therapy methods are dissimilar, “the Cuban therapists care desperately about the children they see, so there was no real difference in that aspect,” he said. He notes that one big difference is Americans’ use of play in occupational therapy: “In Cuba they don’t seem to mix therapy time and play time.”