St. Petersburg College was on hand at the 2018 Florida Special Olympics, with students and staff from the dental hygiene and physical therapy assistant programs performing health screenings.
SPC’s Amy Krueger, Academic Chair of the AS-Dental Hygiene Program, along with Katie Woods, Academic Chair of the AS-Health Sciences Program, assisted in setting up the Special Smiles section of Healthy Athletes at the Fall 2018 Special Olympics State Games in Orlando on Friday, November 9. The Florida Special Olympics Special Smiles program is one of the largest oral health screening activities for Special Olympians in the US.
Over the course of the weekend, hygienists from all over the state – including SPC alumni – screened people for oral conditions, provided fluoride treatments, fitted mouth guards, and gave referrals to a total of 506 athletes.
Concurrently, Alex Kerekes, Lab Facilitator in the Physical Therapist Assistant program, and current PTA student Nina Resic assisted in the Fun Fitness portion of Special Olympics by providing screenings, including those of flexibility, strength, and aerobic capacity, to assess the needs of the athletes, who compete in various events from flag football and cheerleading to power lifting.
This year, more than 3,000 athletes were screened over 12 hours between all of the disciplines at the Special Olympics State Games. Many PT and PTA Programs from around the state of Florida have students attend to perform the screenings. This is a wonderful opportunity for PT and PTA students to work together in providing care for the athletes while collecting useful data that Special Olympics will then use to make improvements in their athletic programs.
Kerekes said the opportunity for physical therapists and PTA students to work together is essential because they will work closely in their careers, and this relationship can be developed through the interaction.
“The PT/PTA relationship is essential in providing comprehensive care to those who are treated in the physical therapy setting,” Kerekes said. “Students don’t always get this interaction until they graduate and get jobs in the clinic. With this event, PT and PTA students have the opportunity to work together in screening each athlete while developing skills that each will use with each other in the clinic.”