By Kate Hunger
Patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in the Rio Grande Valley currently travel several hours each way to reach clinics with health care professionals trained to provide the support they need.
Autumn Clegg, OTR, CBIS, clinical assistant professor, and academic fieldwork coordinator, is principal investigator a team that sought-and won- a Community Engagement Small Project Grant through the Clinical and Transitional Science Award in an effort to gauge the impact of continuing education on health care providers working with ALS patients. Additionally, the project addresses the feasibility of a multidisciplinary clinic for ALS patients in the Valley.
The almost $5,000 grant was awarded in September 2016 and the project, "A Multidisciplinary Education and Practice Outreach for an Underserved ALS Community," will conclude this fall. Co-investigate partners include the UT Health San Antonio School of Medicine, Department of Neurology and the ALS Association Texas Chapter.
In March, the ALS clinical team from UT Health met with patients and their families in Edinburg. At the meeting, patients and families had the opportunity to ask questions and described the service they need. The following day, the team partnered with Doctors Hospital Renaissance in Edinburg to conduct a continuing education program on the best practices for caring for ALS patients. The free program was attended by 97 health care professionals from the fields of nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech pathology, nutrition, respiratory care and social work.
The health care professionals participating in the continuing education program showed a significant increase in self-efficacy, from a mean of 46.97 to 84.59, (p<.001), Clegg reported.
"We are mentoring them in the hope they will continue to offer an ALS clinic in the Valley," she said. "It's huge both from patients' standpoint and the family's standpoint," she added. "They are driving five hours plus, sitting through a clinic all afternoon plus driving back an additional 5 hours."