ROMP was founded under the principle of volunteerism and 12 years later volunteers continue to be critical to the success of the organization.Volunteers are necessary to move programming forward in both the clinic and administratively. These individuals embody the ROMP spirit and have dedicated endless amounts of time to ROMP. We recognize their service and thank them!
Dave Rotter, CPO (prosthetics and orthotics) – upper extremities, complicated fittings, sporting prosthetics
How he got into prosthetics: “Cosmic accident.” After “a complete waste of time” undergraduate business degree, Dave started thinking about design and medical school because he was “always a tinkerer.” One day someone took him to a prosthetics lab, and “10 minutes later I could not believe that people actually got paid to do this.”
The experiences I have in Guatemala are consistently the most profound I have all year. The drive these patients have to regain their mobility is so inspirational, and the connections I make with them has been enough to keep me coming back year after year.
Kristin Liebl, Physical Therapist
ROMP Trips: 6 Guatemala + 2 weeks in Quito
What you do on the trips, why you do them and what you love about them?
To be completely honest, it is difficult to capture experiences like I’ve had with the Range of Motion Project (ROMP) and put it into words. First and foremost, (to describe why I do these trips), I am a physical therapist who dedicates time and energy to empowering people through improving their mobility. Beyond that, I am a traveler, a lover of culture and languages, and a person who dedicates free time into finding ways to bridge gaps and connect people. And maybe you wouldn’t describe yourself as I just described myself, but you don’t need to be. What I love and is great about being a part of ROMP is the comradery in a team of different people working together, teaching each other, helping each other, making connections and defying all odds to provide amazing patient care in suboptimal conditions.
I have now been on 7 volunteer trips over the years and with each experience and each patient, I feel I learn just as much from them as they take from me. And with that, I am a better person, undoubtably a better therapist, and most importantly, a better global citizen. I feel that all the small steps we can take as individuals, and in this case specifically, as professionals, to have experiences like ROMP to further develop our understanding of those different from ourselves all will add up to make the world a better place. And with each step that we take out of our comfort zones, we are better in innumerable ways. It is my hope that the people I encounter on these trips are forever changed in a positive way and that I carry with me all that I have learned to make an impact on lives here at home as well.
Each trip can be slightly different but with the same goals: work together as one team to evaluate patients for orthotic and prosthetic needs, assist the prosthetists in fabrication, prosthetic / gait train the patients to optimize their functional independence in a fast-paced, energy-creating atmosphere and to support each other and the team in any way that you can.
To summarize, I can assure you, as a physical therapist, a traveler and a frequent ROMP volunteer, that there is a really cool world out there with a lot of amazing, hard-working, intelligent and loving people impacting lives every day and I challenge you to be one of them. I highly recommend taking opportunities such as ROMP volunteer trips and other ROMP opportunities to meet the challenge of being a global health citizen and ROMP volunteer. It is life-changing.
Michael Smerka, Certified Prosthetist
ROMP Trips: 5
What ‘we’ do on these trips is multi faceted. The most obvious part of what we do is to fit people who are in need of a prosthesis. At the risk of sounding cliche, I say ‘we’ because the is no ‘I’ in team.
The availability of prosthetic care in Guatemala is virtually non-existent unless one has access to significant resources. I love coming to Guatemala to provide a service that is so unique and specialized to people how have no access to it.
That said, to have the ROMP experience is to work together as a collective group to improve someone’s life. I treasure simple things like putting a smile on someone’s face, whether it be a first time amputee or the child of a parent who takes steps for the first time since amputation. The big difference is that back home patients expect to get excellent care. In Guatemala, it comes as gift.
I enjoy the intensive approach to providing care at highest level in a short (one week) period, with what often ends up being the challenge of having limited resources. In the end though, it somehow all works out. As an experienced clinician, I enjoy the opportunity to both teach some of what I have learned as well as learn from others around me.
Back home, I get to work collecting used prostheses through the the year. This enables me to educate the public about the desperate need for care and components in these parts of the world. I find that people who donate love knowing their used prosthesis will go towards helping someone in need.This effort also keeps me focused on the next ROMP trip!