In the provision of physical rehabilitation services, the presence of a language barrier between clinician and client can greatly interfere with the expected therapeutic outcome, as well as further aggravate feelings of isolation and fear which can impede the natural healing process. This presence of a language barrier interrupts equal access to health care and adds to the presence of health disparities for many minority groups in the United States. Since the United States is made up of diverse groups with an equally diverse variety of language spoken, this problem is ongoing and occurs repeatedly.
Historically occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language therapists/speech-language pathology have been dominated by members of the Anglo culture (Thrash, 2008), however, in the last several decades, the shift in ethnicity throughout the United States is also reflected in the members of these disciplines, many who are foreign born and trained. This shift adds an additional component of language barrier where the clinician and patient may both have English as a second language. Many settings such as skilled nursing facilities, adult day treatment centers and client?s homes don?t have access to or funding for trained interpreters and a monolingual clinician may be at a disadvantage when trying to communicate with their clients. By participating in occupational specific Spanish language training, therapists can improve their ability of bridging the language barrier between themselves and their non-English speaking or Limited English Proficient (LEP) clients.