The Community Client Alliance (CCA) is a group of community members who volunteer their time to the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program at Western Michigan University to allow physical therapy students to observe, work with, and learn from individuals who have actual impairments that are appropriate for rehabilitation. These volunteers either once had a medical or rehabilitation condition (such as injuries that resulted from a motor vehicle accident) or are currently living with a chronic condition (such as a stroke or multiple sclerosis).
This unique partnership between the community and the classroom benefits students by providing realistic clinical experiences with individuals who are able to share valuable life experiences related to their injury or condition. This allows the students to see, feel, and better understand the impairments and activity limitations that they learn about in the classroom. Our students work with CCA members at various times throughout their DPT education, beginning in the second week of the program.
Examples of how CCA members may be involved in classroom activities:
- When students are learning how to take a patient’s history, CCA members may be invited to class to allow students to practice the medical interview process (this would require CCA members to simply sit and talk with the students)
- When students are learning how to assess a patient’s balance and gait, CCA members may be invited to class to allow students to practice these skills (this would require CCA members to allow students to perform a basic physical assessment, conduct a variety of balance tests, and observe walking if the CCA member is able)
- When students are learning how to teach patients how to use assistive devices (such as canes, walkers, and crutches), CCA members may be invited to class to allow students to problem solve which device is best for a given individual to allow maximum function (this would require CCA members to allow students to perform various physical tests of strength, coordination, and safety and to practice teaching the use of assistive devices on flat surfaces as well as with curbs and stairs)
There is no age limit for participation – our students will appreciate learning from individuals of any age! Participation is strictly on a volunteer basis. Faculty typically choose and invite CCA members to participate based on specific student learning needs for a given classroom topic. While there are many known benefits from involvement in such a group, one of the primary benefits is knowing how much these interactions benefit the next generation of physical therapists.
CCA members must:
- provide their own transportation to and from WMU
- understand that participation will not involve receiving rehabilitation services
- be comfortable working with students one-on-one or in groups
- agree to sign a waiver of liability
- agree to self-disclose any current medical conditions and physical limitations for safety purposes
- consider signing an authorization for the DPT program to use photographs or videos of the classroom learning experiences
As a small token of our appreciation for CCA members’ contribution to our students’ learning, each member will receive a $25 gift card each time he or she participates in a classroom activity.
If you are interested in joining the CCA, please complete the Authorization Form and Contact/Medical Information Form and return to the Physical Therapy Department by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or mailing to:
Department of Physical Therapy
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Avenue
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5383 USA
If you would like further information about the CCA, or if you have questions about participation, please call the Department of Physical Therapy at (269) 387-7356.