The greatest reminder of why I chose this profession

Lindsey Wagner
Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident
Creighton University

Four weeks near the equator in April 2012 changed Lindsey Wagner’s life.

Then a fourth year student in Physical Therapy at Creighton University in Nebraska, the strawberry blond took a service trip to the Dominican Republic to work in the bateys, or slums, in and around Santiago providing physical therapy to impoverished people of all ages. It was part of the university’s Institute for Latin American Concern program.

“I remember one patient in particular – Ruben Carrasco,” says the always-smiling Wagner, a native of Champaign, Illinois. “He was in a car accident, fracturing his arm and scapula and severing his radial nerve, which gives the back of the forearm and wrist muscles strength and sensation. He could not lift his arm in any direction, move his wrist, or write.”

Wagner created a combination splint and wrist brace which held Ruben’s wrist in a position so he could write. She also worked on his range of motion, strength, and neuromuscular control. As a result, he was able to return to work and resume life.

“It’s amazing how true rehabilitation really works wonders on those needing it,” says Wagner. “The physical therapy available in the Dominican is a lot less advanced, mostly consisting of ice, heat, and maybe ultrasound. We were able to make a real difference in the lives of many people.”

Wagner and her colleagues saw such a great change in their patients in their four weeks in the Dominican at the Hospicio St. Vincent de Paul.

“Hanging on my wall is the greatest souvenir from the trip – a piece of paper Ruben wrote on when we started physical therapy and again before I left,” Wagner says proudly. “It’s amazing to see the difference our work brought to this young man. And it’s the greatest reminder of why I chose this profession.”

When Wagner isn’t in the Dominican, she is an Orthopedic Physical Therapy Resident at Creighton University, where she graduated with honors in May 2012. Her days are filled teaching on-campus labs and lectures, in the outpatient medical center providing physical therapy treatment sessions and evaluations, and participating in osteoporosis-related research.

“The Christie Foundation gave me the support I needed to attend Creighton – a great school with a very strong physical therapy program,” she says. “I am so appreciative of the Foundation giving back to my education – helping me help others.”