Pro-Bono Service Through Student-Run Clinics: How Does Physical Therapy Measure Up?

The objectives of this paper were to evaluate pre- to post-treatment outcomes of patients attending a student-run free physical therapy clinic in order to provide new evidence concerning patient response to student care. The authors hypothesize improved functional and quality of life scores as measured by outcome scales. Twenty-eight patients were included in this retrospective chart review. Data were analyzed through SPSS Statistical software (ver. 13) using paired t-tests to compare baseline and follow-up data for the following measures: blood pressure, numeric pain rating scale (NPRS), quality of life visual analog scale, SF-8 quality of life scale, and population demographics. Most of the patient population was between the ages of 30 and 59 yrs (78.4%) with an unemployment rate of 75%. Significant changes (p<0.05) were exhibited in both the physical health portion of the SF-8 survey and the NPRS. Although not statistically significant, the mental health portion of the SF-8 survey showed notable improvement.

Service learning provides opportunities for students to serve the community while expanding clinical experience. The results demonstrated the effectiveness of student-run pro-bono physical therapy clinics in improving the quality of life for both physical and pain measures.