Regan Edwards of Ringgold, a graduating senior in Health and Exercise Science at Northwestern State University, spent the fall semester interning with a leading researcher and clinician in the field of would care, Frank Aviles, in Natchitoches.
Aviles is a physical therapist with several certifications in the specialized field of wound care, including Certified Wound Specialist, Honorary Fellow of the American College of Certified Wound Specialists and a Certified Lymphedema Therapist.
According to the Center for Disease Control, about 6.5 million Americans live with chronic wounds, wounds that don’t respond to medical care within 30 days. Working at the wound care clinic required knowledge of human anatomy and physiology. Edwards disinfected beds, checked patients’ vitals and worked with patients undergoing Hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Many of the patients were diabetic, had crush injuries or necrotizing fasciitis.
As a student athlete himself, Edwards originally became interested in physical therapy after treatment for a torn ACL. While earning his degree, he worked as a trainer for the football team at St. Mary’s High School in Natchitoches. His internship with Aviles met requirements for NSU’s Quality Enhancement Plan in which graduates complete a high impact education practice. During the internship, Edwards accompanied Aviles to a conference in Florida on lymphedema management where he learned about lymph drainage, compression wraps and other treatments.
Though it was a fascinating and eye-opening experience, Edwards, whose father died when he was in seventh grade, realized he is not entirely comfortable working in a clinical setting, so his future plans are taking him in a different direction. After working as a volunteer for the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame induction program, he plans to pursue a master’s degree in sports administration.
Still, the experience working in the clinic was valuable and he developed a close relationship with Aviles, his mentor. At the conclusion of the semester, he presented what he learned at the Florida conference to a Health and Human Performance class at NSU. He said Health and Exercise Science is a broad field and he now has a better idea of what he wants to do.
“I learned so much,” he said. “It opened my eyes to real world situations and that you need to take care of yourself.”
NSUs’ Fall Commencement will be Friday, Dec. 14 in Prather Coliseum. Graduates from the Gallaspy College of Education and Human Development, the Louisiana Scholars’ College and the College of Arts and Sciences with the exception of those receiving degrees in general studies will receive diplomas at 10 a.m. Graduates in general studies along with those receiving degrees from College of Nursing and Allied Health and the College of Business and Technology will receive diplomas at 3 p.m.