On tour with the medi for help workshop SUV in Bastie
The “mobile clinic” has been the absolute highlight for our medi for help workshop for some time – a vehicle that enables us to care for patients in outlying regions who had previously had to walk to Deschapelles. This meant we could only care for severely handicapped patients with difficulty, if at all, due to the difficult terrain.
On and off the road
For instance, the medi for help workshop SUV has already visited the mountain village Bastie, two hours drive away, to modify a wheelchair and sitting socket for a young girl with infantile cerebral palsy. The mountainous region is very difficult to get to and can only be reached by helicopter or a 4-wheel-drive vehicle (like the medi for help SUV). The young patient we were to care for is an orphan who has been living with friends of the family ever since her parents died. The 7-year-old has a C-shaped scoliosis and is absolutely dependent on care by the medi for help team.
A travelling physiotherapist from the Hopital Albert Schweizer who hikes around for weeks on end suggested the sitting socket and wheelchair after visiting the girl regularly. She also served as an interpreter for the team during the examination. The first task was to fill out a measuring chart and to work out how to use a seat they had brought with them while the physiotherapist gently moved the young girl to prepare her for a sitting position.
Once the girl’s measurements had been taken and the prepared wheelchair had been readjusted, the young patient was ready to try out the sitting position. The seven-year-old took some time to get used to her new position – but the team quickly noticed that her joints were sensing the new position and that she could relax for the first time sitting on her well-cushioned seat. Her initial protests were soon transformed into deep sighs of satisfaction.
The village carer was given in-depth instructions on how to handle the sitting socket, and they practiced lifting the girl into and out of the seat and how to position her properly. The patient showed a great deal of patience, and eventually she rewarded the whole team with a guarded smile that grew into a gently, gurgling laugh after a few moments – an impressive sign of the joy that those present can achieve with their work.
The little girl was visibly happy with her new upright position and the new perspective from which she can now observe and take part in the everyday activities around her. Once the wheelchair adjustments were finished, all the screws had been tightened, and the cushion and straps had been secured, it was at last time to try out her mobility out of doors.
The wheelchair and sitting socket were a particularly fascinating and unusual experience for all those concerned. We’re sure that the little girl’s smile and happiness will remain in the whole team’s memories for a very long time.