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HomePhysical TherapyVolunteering in Malawi – A Physiotherapist’s expertise – Physiospot – Physiotherapy and...

Volunteering in Malawi – A Physiotherapist’s expertise – Physiospot – Physiotherapy and Bodily Remedy within the Highlight

As somebody who educated for physiotherapy within the UK 40 years in the past, I’ve usually questioned if I might make a significant contribution by doing a little volunteer physio work in a low resourced nation. And as I now come in direction of the top of my profession, I used to be eager to search out out and ready to take a little bit of a threat.

Properly, if nothing else I could be an additional pair of educated palms

Due to my friendship with one other physiotherapist who I educated with all these years in the past, I had the prospect to just do that. My buddy Jo has labored in Africa for the previous 38 years, beginning off in Nigeria, then Mozambique, and now – alongside along with her husband Steven – in Malawi. She assured me that as a neurological specialist, notably with my years of expertise with stroke and cerebral palsy, I may very well be helpful working along with her in rural Malawi. I wasn’t so sure, however I believed “effectively, if nothing else I could be an additional pair of educated palms”.
So I’ve simply returned from residing and dealing in Malawi for a month: an enormous journey, very thrilling and likewise very rewarding. Due to the work Jo is doing there, and her connections throughout the nation, she booked us an action-packed itinerary of clinics, each native to the place she lives in Salima, which is within the center a part of the nation, and likewise travelling to some clinics additional afield, notably down within the southern areas. The vast majority of the inhabitants are subsistence farmers, residing in small villages (simply collections of small dwellings); fortuitously, clear water is available from native water pumps. Nevertheless, there’s a giant incidence of HIV/Aids, and likewise of malaria, tuberculosis and malnutrition

I used to be relieved to search out that the hands-on strategies that are the bedrock of neurological physiotherapy switch simply into one other tradition

Residing in such a unique surroundings was actually a tradition shock, however a really fulfilling one. The logistics of on a regular basis actions resembling searching for and making ready meals need to be deliberate in a manner we simply don’t must do in England, and travelling to different areas of the nation necessitates lengthy drives. Jo and I shared the driving, and I turned used to a unique driving model; to be trustworthy, I loved swerving to keep away from horrendous pot-holes, herds of cattle and particularly kamikaze goats far more than negotiating site visitors on boring, crowded English roads. All through the nation there have been frequent power-outages, which meant that at instances we have been unable to have a bathe, and I used to be actually happy that I had taken a small, highly effective torch with me. Oh, and the little Kindle e-reader which I purchased specifically for the journey was much-needed.


The work was fascinating, and the influence made is nice, because the sufferers have had no earlier rehabilitation. The assorted clinics have been largely for kids, the bulk affected by cerebral palsy, but additionally a quantity who had mind harm following cerebral malaria as infants. I used to be relieved to search out that the hands-on strategies that are the bedrock of neurological physiotherapy switch simply into one other tradition, and whereas I actually benefited from Jo’s capacity to talk the native language (Chichewa), I used to be additionally in a position to work independently with the moms studying from watching and copying; typically speaking solely by way of dealing with and interacting with the kid had, I felt, a higher affect on the mom than verbal explanations. 

There have been completely different challenges when working with adults (with accidents or stroke), seeing them of their properties. As with the youngsters, our remedies have been finished on reed mats positioned on the ground, and all workouts needed to be useful, and with out use of any package. 

An ideal instance of the flexibility of a physio working in sub-saharan Africa occurred in direction of the top of my go to. Exterior a clinic we got here throughout a younger teenage boy sitting on the ground; his mom informed Jo that he has had repeated infections in his leg (a number of scars have been seen) for the previous few years, and now he has extreme ache in his femur, is totally unable to weight-bear, and has obtained a prescription for yet-more antibiotics. Jo swiftly identified osteomyelitis, then made cellphone calls to rearrange for him to be seen by a surgeon at a hospital in Blantyre (a full day’s journey away) – she knew he would want necrotic bone tissue excising. Then she organized for the mom and boy to get to the hospital, because the household, like their neighbours, haven’t any surplus cash to pay for journey. 

The chance to work for a number of weeks on this neighborhood was an exquisite and rewarding expertise

My journey wasn’t all work, and we visited recreation parks and the lake. I used to be seduced by the great thing about Malawi: it’s a nation of big number of panorama, from rolling hills & mountains, plateaus, deep valleys, forests and grasslands, and naturally the large Lake Malawi. I used to be anticipating arid, desert-like landscapes, whereas it’s a inexperienced and plush land. It is called the Heat Coronary heart of Africa, due to the friendliness of its individuals, and the chance to work for a number of weeks on this neighborhood was an exquisite and rewarding expertise.

As a low revenue nation, all residents of Malawi can get free entry to Plus persevering with training {and professional} improvement. If you’re primarily based in Malawi please contact us for a reduction code free of charge entry. Plus additionally gives free partnerships with clinic, college and member organisations in low- and low-middle-income nations as a part of our ReLAB-HS actions, please contact us right here to use.



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