2016 Malawi Exchange

Leslie Glickman, PT, PhD, from the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science of the UM School of Medicine, has been collaborating with George Chimatiro, MSc, a physiotherapist in Malawi, for the past four years. Their collaboration was established under seed grants from the UMB Center for Global Education Initiatives. Through the grants, Dr. Glickman was able to put groups of interprofessional students together to learn and problem solve with their Malawian counterparts around the issues of physical therapy and clinical teaching in a resource-limited setting. Dr. Glickman has been able to expand her work in Malawi through her Fulbright Program Scholar Grant and recently added an engineering component to her project through a new collaboration with the Virginia Tech Department of Mechanical Engineering. Virginia Tech engineering students will focus on addressing physical and structural challenges that are faced by rehabilitating patients in Malawi.

With each trip, Dr. Glickman recognized that Mr. Chimatiro would greatly benefit from a visit to the United States to learn about the practice and educational curricula for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants in the U.S. and to share the same from his country. In December 2016, Mr. Chimatiro flew to the U.S. for the first time and was able to visit and discuss his work with members of the UM School of Medicine Physical Therapy faculty, NIH representatives, and local rehabilitation centers. He plans to incorporate ideas into the medical care for Malawians and education of physical rehabilitation students in Malawi so that they align more with international standards.

On Dec. 15, Dr. Glickman and Mr. Chimatiro visited students at the Southwest Charter School in the Pigtown neighborhood of Baltimore. Mr. Chimatiro conducted a participatory educational program. Not only was this session an opportunity for the students ‌and teachers to learn about another culture but also to reinforce and provide them relevant health care information.‌ He discussed the roles and work of physical therapists, mobility devices that highlighted the use of “simple machines” (the focus of the students' current learning topic), and gave them some background about his life and the culture of Malawi. One highlight was Mr. Chimatiro teaching the students a native song in Chichewa (his dialect) and a dance from Malawi. Not surprisingly, many students had experienced physical therapy as former patients themselves or by observing family members participating in various related activities but they knew little about the country of Malawi!

This visit highlighted an example of how to integrate a global activity with a local activity with relative ease. Feedback from teachers and the students was very positive and further expressed in a hand-written and signed thank-you poster board note. Prominent on the note was the word‌ "spectacular," and that really said it all!‌

Read about Dr. Glickman's previous projects at the Kachere Rehabilitation Center from 2014 and 2015 here. You also can watch a recent video made about Kachere Rehabilitation Center.