PCOM Georgia AT

Doctor of physical therapy students at PCOM Georgia in Suwanee got out of the classroom and onto the Appalachian Trail to host an injury and prevention clinic for hikers in early April.

About 40 miles up the almost 2,200-mile hiking trail at Mountain Crossing in Blairsville, on Saturday, April 9, PCOM students evaluated hikers’ injuries, providing musculoskeletal soft-tissue work and education as needed to the adventurers braving the journey. 

“We saw many hikers for massage, foot care, ankle sprains and low back pain,” said PCOM student Jennifer Huh, who is expected to graduate in 2023. “Students had a chance to briefly assess the hikers, provide massages, make recommendations for blister/wound care, educate the hikers on proper shoe wear, and teach stretching techniques.”

Brenau University faculty member Greg Patterson, PT, DPT, spearheaded 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 that it was a great experience,” said Austin Pack, who plans to finish his program in 2023. “It gave us an opportunity to evaluate and treat hikers/patients who came through. With us all being together, it allowed for the students to work alongside one another to use critical thinking and application skills that we have learned thus far.

Working in an atypical environment gave the experience even more meaning and diversity, especially for those of us who love to be in nature,” Pack added. “Opportunities outside of the classroom to be hands on with real people who have movement dysfunctions is one of the best way to learn in this profession.” 

PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit branch 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 every year, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, which oversees management and conservation of the hiking trail.

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Deanna Allen has served as editor of the North Gwinnett Voice since June 2021. Effective communication and creative design are her passions.

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