Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Drop-in from a mzungu point of view

Drop-in clinics at Spring of Hope run on Thursdays, starting around 10:00 a.m. and their length is determined by how many patients there are,  which is sometimes enough to continue until 4:00 p.m. Parents bring their children for personally tailored treatment from the physiotherapist or occupational therapists, with some volunteer help on the side. So far I have participated in three drop-in clinics, both as an assistant to the trained therapists and also treating children on my own in tasks I feel comfortable performing.  The ages of the children are anywhere from young babies to school-age children, and their reactions to treatment also have a wide range. Some children cry and scream the whole time even though they are not in any pain, while others laugh and giggle while they are bounced around on the balls to help improve their balance, proprioception and muscle condition. Toys are used to distract and motivate children, and therapists try to work with children and manipulate and stretch their joints in the position that is most comfortable for them, whether it’s lying on their stomach, back or side. Therapists use their hands and legs to help stretch the children, and there is also a standing frame which straps children in to help them practice to correct posture and muscle use for when they begin to stand. Parents watch attentively and therapists give suggestions for exercises to work on at home. I was also introduced to the children, parents and their stories. In almost every case there have been huge improvements in condition, mobility and overall attitude. 

Photos of Drop In 

Steven physio advising Daddy Martin on exercises

Child in standing frame

Steven working on exercises

Barbara - OT working with child and parent

Prossy OT student counseiling parent on childs disability

Personal Anecdote:

Last week my first patient was a little girl named Bettina. She has a condition which results in the paralysis of her left side. Her right side is fully functional and she uses it to compensate for her weaker left. This is to her detriment because as the right grows stronger, the left grows weaker. We started by practicing taking the tops off empty bottles of various sizes. It was much easier for her to work the larger lids, than the smaller ones which require more precise motor skills. After this we worked on picking up shapes of different sizes and thicknesses and putting them into a box, and afterwards taking them out. In this activity it was easier for her to pick them up than release them. There were larger and bulkier pieces such as checkers, and smaller lady bug-type buttons. We also took this opportunity to practice identifying the colours. Next we did the same activity but with blocks and picking them up in alphabetical order. One of the things I have noticed about Spring of Hope is that the workers try to use opportunities to their fullest by trying to bring in an educational component if possible. Most of the children here love to learn, and the reason the children work so hard to improve their mobility or fine motor skills is so they can go to school. How very different from children back home in Canada who spend their winters praying for snow days! Bettina started out quite reserved but opened up eventually when we added in high fives after she was able to grip things particularly well and I eventually got some smiles out of her. She didn’t look too disappointed though because after we were finished she was on her way back to school.

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