Thrush Reflects on Sustainable Solutions in Physical Therapy

By schwartzsa | December 7, 2010

Aaron Thrush ’09DPT, a senior physical therapist at Good Shepherd Penn Partners in Philadelphia, published an op-ed in the August 2010 edition of the American Physical Therapy Association’s Health Policy and Administration Resource. “Mary Martin: Profile of a Champion for Sustainable Solutions” reflects on an interview with the Canadian physiotherapist.

Martin is a devoted contributor to the Cross Cultural and International Special Interest Group (CCISIG) who spent 9.5 years working with the United Mission To Nepal combating a number of issues including disability, child trafficking, HIV/AIDS, food sovereignty, education and advocacy.

“What struck me more than her accomplishments and curriculum vitae is the thoughtfulness and intentionality with which she pursues her work,” writes Thrush. “CCISIG and Mary Martin share the desire to create sustainable solutions in resource-limited settings. Mary has seen the consequences of decision made for personal fulfillment and short term gain, which has provoked her to cultivate a better understanding of sustainability in the physical therapy and broader global health community. She has since embarked on a tireless journey to broaden people’s view of development, sustainability, and building capacity, rather than the shortsightedness of charity and results-based approaches.”

“Coming from this perspective, Mary is quite impressed with what she has seen occurring on the CCISIG listerv, especially conversations in the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. She identifies the wisdom that has been shown in our avoidance of ‘quick fix’ remedies, and in illuminating the recklessness of rushing down to Haiti without carefully thinking through both short and long term consequences.”

Thrush concludes with Martin’s guidance: Ten Things PTs Should Embrace Before Showing up in an International Setting. Her sage advice includes the importance of humility, broad training and experience, flexibility and lifelong learning.