Sep 18, 2016 News
By Murtland Haley
There are many untold stories that are either withheld, deliberately, or are simply not sought after. The Palms Rehabilitation Department is one such entity whose story is not sought out and acknowledged as it should.
The Palms assists persons who are suffering from various neurological injuries, inclusive but not limited to cerebrovascular accident which is commonly referred to as a “Stroke”, fractures, sprains and dislocations to regain the use of their injured limbs.
During a visiting to the institution on Thursday, physiotherapist within the department, Dexter George and two patients who were doing their exercises, told of their experiences.
George explained that services offered at the institution continue to change lives on a daily basis.
“What we do here, affects people’s lives, their jobs, their livelihood, so when they come to us, they just don’t come because they have an injury or they have a condition. We also look at their entire lifestyle, things that they will do for themselves, around the family. We have to look at them in a holistic way.”
According to George this approach is necessary since patients visit the unit seeking a full recovery. “It is not just to feel better, when we are finished with them; they must be able to go back to work and continue doing the things they do every day.”
These functions are described as “Activities for Daily Living” (ADL). He said that quite a number of the persons who go for treatment are unable to put on a simple shirt or to shower their bodies. According to George, some persons even have to be taught how to stir a pot.
The entire department is subdivided into three sections. The physical therapy section deals with treatment and exercises. There is also a speech therapy department to assist persons who have difficulty speaking. Finally there is the Occupational Therapy Department which helps people to regain the ability to perform ADLs.
Fifty year-old James Sooknanan was at the time stacking cones as part of his mobility exercises for the day. He said that as a taxi driver he would occasionally drop passengers off at the Palms but had no knowledge of the rehabilitation department.
In February he suffered a stroke to his left side and was referred to the department to seek treatment. According to him, on his first day he had to be assisted by his wife and son to enter the building. However, when leaving he was able to walk out with assistance from just his wife.
Due to the treatment he would have received, Sooknanan is now able to walk on his own.
“One day a friend came to visit me saying he heard I had a stroke, so I walked to the gate to speak with him and he said, “But you ain’t look like you get stroke.”
Sooknanan said he is extremely grateful for the assistance he would have received, and that he has no regret for taking the advice to visit the institution.
Another patient, 85-year-old James Samuels advised that persons who require rehabilitation services should visit the department at the palms. Samuels suffered a hip injury after he fell three weeks ago.
He said that he has seen considerable improvements. He is satisfied with the quality of service. His daughter, an overseas-based Guyanese, said that her relatives here had no knowledge of the institution. They had to be referred by the hospital. She said that it seems that not much is known about the department.
The lack of recognition is one of the issues which physiotherapist Dexter George had highlighted. He said that although physiotherapy is recognized worldwide persons locally only notice it through sports.
“If you look at the football matches, Olympic Games, cricket matches, whenever one of these players get injured you see a guy run out on the field and start attending to him and you hear the commentators say, Oh the physio is there with him.”
George said that more persons need to realise that there is also a clinical side to it where conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and all other conditions are treated. So that aspect is what is not being recognized.”
The expert urged persons to embrace the services being offered and to stop being ‘shut in’ especially since treatment is free of charge.
Interestingly enough, George said that in addition to the physical rehabilitation services offered, the institution also helps children who are described as slow learners. He said that families tend to keep such children out of the public domain due to feeling ashamed. However those children can improve if they are brought to the department, he said.
“Our department can help them, bring them up to speed, but parents who would recognize their child’s condition would then keep them away, put that child in a corner and forget about them.”
He added, “The next thing you know, the child gets older and older and then you get a five-year-old or a six-year-old who can’t spell his name, who can’t identify who is his mother or father.
“All that is due to parents deciding not to bring that child to us.”
George said that the department has treated children who went on to write the CSEC examination and are now working. “We need persons in Guyana to stop with this ‘Oh I have this condition; it’s just something to stay home we don’t want nobody else know.”
He added, “We need to do away with this shame thing, our department works, it works.”
George said that essentially it all leads back to awareness. He said that he would like the department to be recognised as a standard institution people go to when they have neurological injuries.
In terms of moving the institution forward, George said that there is a great need for space. He said that every week the department enrols at least nine new patients. This forces them to adjust the schedules to accommodate each person.
“We need more space in order to give that person a complete treatment and be attended to in a way that they are not short-changed.”
He said that the joy of working in the department comes when a patient would have recovered to a state that they are independent individuals once again.
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