HIGH POINT, N.C. - High Point University opened a free physical therapy clinic to help improve the health and quality of life of the underserved.

The clinic provides free services to people who are underinsured or not insured at all.

It also acts an educational environment for students and future health care providers.

"We believe in community outreach and equipping our students with the skills to make a difference," said Dr. Eric Hegedus, founding chair of HPU's Department of Physical Therapy. "We surveyed our community, our students, medical leaders and non-medical leaders and found a strong demand for this type of clinic in our community."

Before building the new clinic, the university surveyed more than 700 potential patients and found one out of every three of those patients had severe pain.

Researchers also found clinicians discharged patients early because of lack of insurance.

"We surveyed all communities, including Spanish speaking and Arabic speaking communities," said Dr. Alicia Emerson, assistant professor of physical therapy. "We will spend an entire year with the students in a series of community outreach courses in the clinic and engage other service learning courses, such as a medical Spanish course, so we are involving many types of students and helping many patients at the clinic."

ESPAÑOL: La Universidad de High Point Abre Clínica de Terapia Física Gratuita

The university launched a doctoral physical therapy program in May with 60 students.

Those students, along with physical therapy faculty, make it possible for the clinic to operate 40 hours week.

HPU also hired a full-time clinician, Dr. Garrett Naze, to manage and provide day-to-day operations.

The 9,000-square-foot clinic incudes a six large, private treatment rooms, a group exercise area and innovative equipment.

The university also purchased a MRI machine, giving faculty and students access to advanced technology to provide quality care.

The clinic is located at 1030 Mall Loop Road in High Point.

For more information, you can call the free physical therapy clinic at 336-841-2985.