Students Use Chiropractic to Improve Quality of Life in Ecuador

December 3, 2018 -- Just after completing exams and checking off another trimester this summer, seven female DC students packed their bags and chiropractic tables and headed south to Quito, Ecuador, for clinic abroad, eager to put their knowledge to use on real patients.

The inspiration for the trip came from Lizzie Rooker-Ortega, Trimester 10 student, who met her husband in Ecuador on a volunteer trip three years ago. “It’s always been a big focus of mine to give back to communities,” Lizzie said. Along with help from her husband and mother-in-law, Lizzie coordinated the 10-day trip, including travel arrangements, itineraries and a partnership with a local university.

The students, all of whom are current or past members of the Executive Board of Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) at Logan, were accompanied by Erica Hackett, DC, FIAMA, clinician and instructor, and Charlotte Meier, DC (2017). WLC partnered with Instituto Tecnologico Superior Esculapio, a naturopathic university in Quito, to give health exams to patients, provide chiropractic adjustments and share nutrition and exercise tips.

“First and foremost, the goal was to help the people of Ecuador,” Lizzie said. “Chiropractic is poorly known in South America, and the people of Ecuador are underserved in terms of health.”

The trip also served as a learning opportunity for the students—four of whom were entering the clinics for the first time upon their return to Logan—as well as exposure for chiropractic and the University. “Any international outreach for chiropractic and Logan is huge,” Lizzie said. “There are so many aspects of someone’s life that can be impacted through chiropractic—whether it’s physical, nutritional or emotional.”

As patients came into the temporary clinic, Logan students used a translator to ask questions and understand the patient’s complaint. From there, the students consulted with Dr. Hackett regarding a patient plan and got to work adjusting and teaching at-home exercises and posture tips. They treated patients who had previously suffered from cancer, a heart attack, a kidney ablation, cramping or pain throughout the body, among other complaints—more complicated cases than the students typically encountered in St. Louis, Lizzie said.

Throughout the five days of clinic, WLC saw more than 100 patients, and they treated each patient at least twice. They even referred some patients back to the naturopathic institute to continue care.

“People are in pain for so long that it affects them emotionally, too. The better they feel, the better they want to live, and the better they want to take care of themselves,” Lizzie said. “By experiencing these cases and treating these patients, we were able to grow and be challenged as health care providers and really focus on providing high-quality patient care.”

In addition to treating patients, the women spent time exploring the city. They saw the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, the monument marking the equator where visitors can stand with one foot in each hemisphere; the Monument to Independence; waterfalls and more.

“A personal goal of mine was for the other students and staff to experience a different way of life in Ecuador,” Lizzie said. “It is a very special place to me with a beautiful culture and beautiful people. Logan helped give me the tools and opportunities to give back to the people of Ecuador, and do so with my fellow students.”


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