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Physical therapy students turn to Zoom to get credits for graduation

TCC Physical therapy.PNG
Posted at 2:30 PM, Jun 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 16:53:12-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - COVID-19 interrupted education for millions, but it didn’t stop a group of Tidewater Community College students from getting the credits they needed for graduation and helping people with physical therapy.

This is week six of the new Timeless Living Fall Prevention program, a telehealth program that aims to prevent falls in adults 65 and older.

“I have noticed that my balance has improved since we start doing this,” said Jackie Singleton. Singleton and her husband are both participating in the program.

It’s run by students from Tidewater Community College's Physical Therapist Assistant Program.

“The two therapists have been very good. While one shows us the exercises, the other one says, 'Jackie, hold onto that,' and, 'Jackie, do this'. They’re watching everything,” Singleton said.

“It seems like telehealth is something that we’re going to be able to use in the future, and it’s been a great experience for us,” said student Mandy Pannone.

School officials said when COVID-19 hit the students were just shy of getting the credits they needed to graduate.

The head of the department, Melanie Basinger, created the new program with the help from her students and executed it through her nonprofit Therapy on the Move.

She said the program provides the students credits while providing socialization and interaction to the participants in the program.

They meet up on Zoom for two hours once a week, and each student has between 8 and 12 people they are helping.

“We do some exercise together. We talk about ways to prevent falls and have a great time with our participants,” said student Cara Rosie.

The students are supposed to graduate in July with the hours they need with their clinical work instead of having to wait until December. They were supposed to graduate in May.

They said when COVID-19 hit they didn’t know how this was going to impact their courses and programs.

“They’re going to be leaders in telehealth, which is here to stay,” Basinger said.

“We want to encourage people to make changes and educate them in their homes and their lives so that they can be safe and independent for their whole lives,” said Rosie.

“There’s no words to describe how proud I am of them,” Basinger said. “We had coronavirus, and I saw their frustration and their sadness and feeling like their education was hijacked, and to see them shine this year is different.”

She said she is honored and extremely proud of her students for overcoming the challenges that COVID presented.

For more information on the program contact Melanie Basinger at mbasinger@tcc.edu.