Pediatric Therapies

Faculty: Juliana Gutierrez, OTD, OTR/L SWC


Project Objectives
  • To provide hands-on therapeutic interactions supporting daily activities within an inpatient nutrition unit, including feeding, caring, playing and therapeutic activities
  • To understand the social and occupational impact of an inpatient infant nutrition unit in Guatemala
  • To explore children’s occupations within the Hospital Obras Sociales and within the context of Guatemala’s culture
  • To recognize the impact of nutritional and developmental deficits on social and occupational justice in relationship to Guatemalan political and social history
  • To understand the relationship between nutrition, early childhood developmental trajectories and occupational capacity
  • To engage with Guatemalan community members and professionals to extend the student’s understanding of attitudes and practices regarding  feeding, nutrition and developmental milestones
  • To become immersed within the culture of Guatemala and the the pediatric nutrition unit to collaborate in the development of intervention strategies that go beyond the clinic context to strengthened sustainable services appropriate for their social context
Project Activities

The Pediatric Therapy group will focus on the social, political, and economic determinants of child development in Guatemala. The Pediatric Therapy group will gain hands-on experience in a pediatric unit at Obras Sociales Hermano Pedro, a Catholic charity hospital located in Antigua, Guatemala, serving low-income families throughout the country.

Students will participate in a hands-on experience that will include therapeutic participation in the pediatric unit. Observational methods and chart reviews will be used for assessing nutritional, social and occupational status, and students will plan and implement therapeutic approaches based on play and sensory motor intervention strategies. Students will be guided in how to observe and understand the cultural dimensions of early childhood development and explore them in light of the social determinants of health discussed in the core curriculum.  The group will develop case study analyses of developmental trajectories of children on the clinical unit, describing in detail feeding, developmental and participation progress of the children. These case analyses will be further examined in comparison to the children found within the local community, which will be elicited through informal engagement with the community and qualitative research methods.

Students will participate as a group in 3-4 half-day sessions per week in the pediatric unit at Hermano Pedro. There will be time each week for supervised hands on work with children, as well as general debriefing and discussion. Students can expect to spent time outside of clinic time on group meetings and preparation of their final case study reports.

Key competencies gained will include:  Critical thinking and analysis of social and occupational outcomes of poor nutrition and the impact on occupation and neurodevelopment; knowledge of sensory-motor and play intervention strategies; and qualitative research methods and analysis, including case study methodology.