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Mojave High prepares students for physical therapy careers

When 18-year-old Ivan Parra walks into his seventh-period class at Mojave High School, he steps into a sports medicine clinic filled with student athletes, rows of beds and exercise equipment.

“I come in, see my athletes here, go to the office and get my athlete’s workout sheet and log and then I make sure they complete their workouts for that day,” Parra said.

The class is part of the school’s sports medicine program and was created to give students hands-on experience — practicing tactics they’d use in the field on peers.

“This clinic is very convenient,” said 16-year-old Donovan Davis, one of Para’s patients. “During seventh period, my teacher lets me come here because I need help with my leg. Now I don’t have to go and set up appointments — have to pay anything. I can just walk right in and get treated and get better.”

The students act as physical therapists, treating at least one student athlete’s injuries — including muscle and ligament strains and ankle sprains, according to Jeffrey Taormina, who teaches the class.

“Here we are in North Las Vegas at a Title 1 school; some (students) can’t afford to get to a clinic,” Taormina said. “They’re getting the best care here on campus.”

Taormina said he worked for over 15 years as a physical therapist with professional athletes and dancers — spending much of his time with Cirque du Soleil dancers.

“I brought this part of the program to the school this year,” Taormina said. “This is showing our sports medicine kids and our medical academy kids as a whole that there’s a phenomenal future in medicine. The ultimate goal for me was to put what we’re learning into practice on someone who’s actually injured. Now students can physically see injuries, know what they are, and treat them.”

Students are admitted into the clinic after being signed up by their coaches or athletic trainers.

“We have a form online the coaches use to sign the students up, and then we handle it from there,” Taormina said. “It’s a real-life clinic. They have forms they’re doing — documentation from everyday treatments. They keep up with their patients.”

Taormina said the program is preparing students for careers in sports medicine. Parra aspires to become a physical therapist and plans to study kinesiology at UNLV.

“This class gives us a head start,” Parra said. “We get to figure out what it’s really like: a day in the life in the clinic. I feel like we have a major advancement compared to other schools.”

Contact Mia Sims at msims@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0298. Follow @miasims___ on Twitter.

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