Q&A with Reverend Lawrence Daniel Golin, Physical Therapist on a Worldwide Medical Mission
Reverend Lawrence Daniel Golin has a BS from Michigan Technological University, an MDiv from Faith Theological Seminary, and a CPT from the University of Pennsylvania. In addition to being a physical therapist, he is a member of the Association of Baptists for World Evangelism and International Director for Ministries to the Disabled. Lawrence has experience in Direct and Indirect Muscle Energy, Prosthetics, Pediatrics, and Neurology (Bobath Technique), and has completed level two training in Myofascial Release with John Barnes. He specializes in international rehabilitation.
Q: You initially earned a BS in forestry. What motivated you to become a physical therapist?
A: After graduating with a Forestry degree at Michigan Tech, I was called to Hawaii to be groomed as the State Forester of the Islands. Having made the decision to follow the Lord in my life back in 1956, I was challenged to work somewhere with people instead of jungle trees. I resigned from my job in Hawaii and went to Faith Theological Seminary in Philadelphia where I felt the call to East Pakistan through the words of Dr. Viggo Olson. I later met Jane (who would become my wife) and she was also called to East Pakistan as a nurse. The two of us went to that country by ship arriving in Chittagong, East Pakistan on July 4, 1967. When I saw all the disabled people, I was challenged again to enter the field of physical therapy to rehabilitate them fully.
Q: What kind of work did you do there?
A: With the help of the Bangladeshi nationals, I helped establish the rehabilitation clinic at Memorial Christian Hospital in the southern part of the country. I worked there for 31 years training nationals who now run the facility. We work a lot with amputees giving them the Jaipur Foot Prosthesis, made from local materials. Now, I am mostly involved with working on roving clinics with doctors, PAs, and Nurse Practitioners. I am a medical missionary. Next step: Liberia for the fourth time.
Q: When and how did you start?
A: In Bangladesh, when it was East Pakistan, I had the privilege of being trained under Valerie Taylor, founder of the Center for Rehabilitation of the Paralyzed in Dhaka. With this training, we started a rudimentary PT department and later, a prosthetic orthotic department.
Q: Typically, what are your day-to-day responsibilities as a physical therapist?
A: When I go to these countries, I will follow the physician's orders and make a positional diagnosis of the patients' problems, explain through an interpreter the problems we see, and, with their permission, treat the problem and follow through with therapeutic exercises to do at home. I see them only once and when I return a year later, I hear how well they are doing. At the same time, I am teaching my interpreter and other interested persons the techniques I am using.
Q: What types of patients/diagnoses do you encounter most frequently?
A: I see mostly orthopedic problems now.
Q: Can you share a funny story about your profession?
A: I see a lot of people with strange symptoms. One older lady came to me severely bent over in Adeta, Togo, West Africa at the Hopital Baptist Biblique in July 2003. I wondered what I could do for her. I found that she had a positional diagnosis of a Left on Right forward Sacralliac Dysfunction with a corresponding Extended Side Bent Rotated Right Rotoscoliosis of Lumbar 5th Vertebrae. I treated her with Functional Indirect Muscle Energy and she felt immediate relief—even to the point that she did a Watusi dance in front of me (laughs).
Q: What are the greatest challenges you face as a PT?
A: Finding other physical therapists who are interested in full time humanitarian work.
Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: I like it most when I see amputees walking normally with their Jaipur Foot Prosthesis, getting gainful employment and coming to an understanding of what life really is all about. This is instead of begging on the streets because they are a cripple (which society has positioned them to do).
Q: Are you currently involved with any research projects?
A: I am working with Dr. Roger Gonzales from the Letourneau University in Mountain View, Texas, with the Delrin Plastic Polycentric Knee joint for the above knee amputee of the third world. The whole limb costs about $150.
Q: Do you feel that the role of PTs has changed over recent years? If so, how?
A: Yes, we rely more on hands-on treatment of people instead of using modalities.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Just seeing PT put to work where there was no rehabilitation of the disabled before.
Q: What is the most important thing you've learned over the course of your career?
A: Learn as much as you can with hands-on treatment (palpation of the structures) and treat accordingly.
Q: What advice do you have for others thinking of entering your specialty?
A: Learn as much as you can about general physical therapy and not just a specialty.
Q: How has working in this specialty allowed you to grow professionally?
A: It makes me look into further knowledge of the problems I see and treat patients more accordingly.
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