Maryville University Hosting Guatemalan Hand Therapist


The leading hand therapist from Guatemala will be on Maryville University’s campus Tuesday and Wednesday (February 6 and 7) to observe the latest therapeutic techniques for the management of upper extremity injuries.

Marta Beatriz Pineda Molina, president of the Guatemalan Association of Hand Therapists, is spending the week of February 5-9 in St. Louis at the invitation of Rebecca von der Heyde, MS, OTR/L, CHT, assistant professor of occupational therapy at Maryville University, who specializes in hand therapy. von der Heyde and Molina have become friends through von der Heyde’s work with the Guatemala Healing Hands Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality and availability of healthcare in Guatemala through education, surgery and therapy. von der Heyde and Maryville occupational therapy students have traveled to that nation twice over the past two years to offer service to its citizens.

On Tuesday, Molina will observe von der Heyde’s third-year OT students as they study prosthetics and later practice making hand splints. On Wednesday, Molina will sit in as von der Heyde teaches her gross anatomy class on the upper extremity with second-year OT students. Molina is traveling across the United States during February, learning from an elite group of hand therapists, as the recipient of the Alan Freeland Award, a grant funded by the American Association of Hand Surgery. von der Heyde is a member of that organization’s board of directors.

In addition to her time at Maryville, Molina will spend three days shadowing hand therapists at St. Louis clinics, including the Milliken Hand Rehabilitation Center, where von der Heyde continues her clinical practice, and the Hand Therapy of Des Peres clinic. As the Guatemalan Association of Hand Therapists was formed just two years ago, Molina is trying to gather as much information as possible to share with hand therapists in her country, von der Heyde said.

Molina’s trip to St. Louis will be a fact-finding mission but von der Heyde sees her visit as equally educational for her Maryville students. “I view this as an opportunity for the students to learn about health care from a global perspective,” von der Heyde said. “It’s also a chance for them to be exposed to different cultures and to realize that, even though we’re from different countries, as health care professionals, we share a lot of the same, basic values.”

Maryville University, founded in 1872, is a private, coeducational institution offering approximately 50 undergraduate, seven master’s and two doctoral degree programs to 3,300 students. Ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of America’s Best Colleges in the Midwest, Maryville University prepares its students for successful and meaningful careers by offering programs that integrate liberal arts with professional studies. Among Maryville’s most recent graduates, 94 percent are employed or attending graduate school. Approximately 15,000 alumni work and live in the St. Louis region.