An education course for UF dental students is preparing them to handle patients in wheelchairs.

Venita Sposetti, the associate dean for education in the UF College of Dentistry, said catering to the needs of disabled patients is an industry-wide problem. When a patient needs a dental procedure and has to be moved from their chair, dentists are sometimes not trained in how to safely move them, Sposetti said.

To solve the problem, Sposetti worked with Kim Dunleavy, the director of professional education and community engagement in the UF Department of Physical Therapy, to develop a training program abouthow to assist patients in wheelchairs, called Making Safe Moves.

“The main purpose was to be able to start educating dentists on being able to help people who are wheelchair bound,” said Marco Italio, a 26-year-old UF physical therapy doctoral student who helped design the training.

Sposetti and Dunleavy presented the training at the national pharmacy and national dental meetings in 2016, when the course launched. This Spring will be the third year the training is implemented in the colleges, Sposetti said.

UF’s physical therapy students created the hour-and-a-half course. The physical therapists educate dental students on different walking-assistance devices patients can use in the office. In some cases, patients may require more than one assistant to help them move into the dental chair due to mobility issues, which students were also trained for.

“Seeing how (the training) makes a difference and can make a difference in somebody’s life was really neat to see,” Italio said.