Member Spotlight: Guillermo Gómez
June 21st, 2018
Mr. Guillermo Gómez is a graduate of the University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), where he studied physical therapy. He extended his studies through hospital rotations in Europe to gain additional expertise in neurological and spinal cord injury rehabilitation. He has taught physical therapy as faculty at Maimonides University in Buenos Aires and in numerous other professional settings. He is an active member of the ISCoS Educational Committee. He founded and is the director of "Kreativa Rehabilitación," a facility in Buenos Aires which provides rehabilitation services to persons with various conditions including SCI and other neurological pathologies.
What inspired you to become a physical therapist?
Well, I played football in my youth, so I had some experiences with physical therapists due to ankle and knee injuries, which inspired me.
How did you become focused on physical therapy for persons with spinal cord injury (SCI)?
Unfortunately, a family accident guided my future as a professional. A very close cousin got a SCI playing rugby at the age of 18 years old. At that time, I was already a physiotherapist with some experience with this type of patient, but this event guided me forever. Patients with neurological problems and especially SCIs became my passion.
How and when did you first become involved with ISCOS?
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to visit a hospital in Toledo, Spain dedicated to SCI treatment. I was there for a month, in 2012. I learned about ISCoS there and immediately contacted Lisa Harvey, to tell her about my wish to be involved with a project to help in my region, Latin America. Lisa opened the doors to ISCoS at the time and I wish to thank her very much.
Please tell us about the state of physiotherapy and rehabilitation for persons with spinal cord injury in Argentina. How does it compare to the situation in other countries in Latin America? Based on your observations during your travels, how does it compare to countries in Europe and elsewhere in the world?
It is a challenge.
First, let me describe my perspective. I have been very active in Latin America and I am committed to improving the welfare of people with SCI in my part of the world. Nowadays, I am Executive member and the South American regional representative for the International Network of Spinal Cord Injury Physiotherapists (SCIPT). I am a member of the ISCoS Education Committee. In these roles, I have embraced the task of identifying physiotherapists in each of the countries in Latin America that are treating people with SCI and/or have a strong interest in SCI. To try to achieve my goal, I have traveled to multiple Latin American countries to meet physiotherapists and connect them into the SCIPT Network.
I think in some Latin American countries, the situation is "critical" regarding physiotherapy professional training for SCI rehabilitation. In Argentina and some neighboring countries (Brasil, Chile, Uruguay), at least, we have the possibility of providing training and SCI workshops. There are some congresses and ISCoS regional activities as well. It is lacking, however, in many other parts of Latin America, where the training and quality of SCI rehabilitation is quite behind the rest of the world.
I have travelled and visited some hospitals and SCI units in Europe (Toledo, Barcelona, Bilbao, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany), and many colleagues and other people have asked me about the differences between Europe and Latin America. Well, I always give the same answer. To summarize, we (in Latin America) may lack infrastructure and the best equipment. Our resources are minimal in many cases. But we have our bodies and our hands. Through hard work, we will be the best professionals that we can be and provide the best care that we can. I am optimistic about the future.
What professional and personal accomplishments are you most proud of?
Humbly, I am personally proud of my achievements since my student days. It is not easy to study in our region, it requires a lot of effort. Ongoing development as a professional is also difficult. I've also built my own business, "Kreativa," and I own space to pursue my passion, the treatment of spinal cord injuries.
Please tell us about "Kreativa Rehabilitation."
It is my dream, my personal project, and my team... and it is a real! We are Kreativa, around 80 people working together to bring the best out of us for our patients. We have a director, coordinators, office personnel, doctors, physical therapists, and occupational therapists, among others, working hard to rehabilitate persons with SCI.
What are the greatest obstacles and/or challenges that you have faced in your career?
To be honest, sometimes I feel alone. But many people have supported my efforts and made me stronger to continue with my passion for SCI rehabilitation. I am a fighter, and I try to insert physiotherapy in all of the possible activities, congresses, workshops, etc., that involve SCI treatment; that is my fight.
Who would you most like to thank and why?
My family especially my wife who allows to me to travel to all of my congresses and workshops.
I would also like to thank ISCoS, all of the members of the education committee, Stephen Muldoon, and especially Lisa Harvey; she is my guide and an example to follow.
What interests do you have outside of work? What do you like to do on your days off from work?
I love to listen to music and I am a disc jockey. I like to play golf and football with my friends. I enjoy going to the cinema and going out with my wife, Flavia, and my two little ones, Facundo and Micaela.