Oba Gulston | Applying world-class skills in front of a global audience
Oba Gulston works well with an audience. It is an asset the physical therapy student found particularly useful when he was called out onto the field at the world’s most watched sporting event.
Hired as a trainer for the national soccer team of his native Trinidad and Tobago during their premier World Cup appearance in Germany in 2006, Oba was relied upon by the team’s medical staff to use the skills he had developed in UC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program to help keep players on the field.
“I was the youngest trainer at the event, and I was dealing with these million-dollar athletes,” he says. “Many of the syndromes and symptoms were new to me at that time.” But Oba soon found that his education had prepared him for precisely this type of eventuality.
Built on an evidence-based model, the DPT program at UC emphasizes self-directed learning and critical thinking. “The students’ clinical decision-making is informed by the evidence that they’ve gathered through the literature,” says Professor Dale Scalise-Smith, the program chair.
“In the program, we are given physical therapy scenarios or problems,” says Oba, “and we research specific conditions using all the most current literature. That really helps to take the guesswork out of putting together a treatment plan. At the World Cup, even without a lot of clinical experience, I was able to assemble the research and decipher what would be the best course of action.”
The approach proved effective in the field, and Oba became a minor phenomenon within the international community of trainers and therapists working at the games. “They would ask me, ‘How did you get that guy back out there? We thought he was out of it for sure.’ Our coach, Leo Beenhakker, who had worked with some of the top teams in Europe, told us that he’d never seen players get back onto the field so quickly.”
Now, with the addition of F. Eugene Romano Hall, the DPT program will be able to match its cutting-edge methods with state-of-the-art facilities and technology. “The new facility offers more opportunities for students to work in a clinical laboratory setting,” Professor Scalise-Smith explains. “That means greater capabilities for student and facultyresearch and for client consultations in a practice-like environment.”
As Oba sees it, Romano Hall will help add to UC’s already considerable stature in this rapidly growing field. “In the world of professional physical therapy,” he says, “UC is already a force to be reckoned with.”