Physio News

Physiotherapy In Rehabilitation – A Look At The Orthopaedic Training Centre In Nsawam, Ghana

Introduction

The Divine Word Missionaries started the Orthopaedic Training Centre (OTC) in Nsawam, a town in the Eastern region of Ghana in 1961. The Centre was founded by Brother Tarcisius de Ruyter, SVD under the motto, “All Children are God’s Gift.” In a world where societies reject persons with disability and impairment, the motto could not have been more apt. Various departments work in sync at the Centre to get patients back on their feet and into their communities.

 Patients who visit the Centre are first assessed by the physiotherapists who develop the treatment regimen for each case. Even though the Centre attends to all physiotherapy-related cases, most patients make up physical disability and orthopaedic cases. The Centre’s treatment protocols include group and individual exercises, gait training, manual therapy, functional rehabilitation and hydrotherapy. Patients in need of extra-orthopaedic attention are referred to medical facilities outside the OTC. It remains a world-class rehabilitation centre for the treatment of various impairments and disabilities.

Surgery programme

The physiotherapists have an opportunity to recommend and/or suggest to patients the option of orthopaedic surgery. The Centre collaborates with the St. John of God Hospital in Duayaw Nkwanta, and the St. Anthony’s Hospital in Dzodze to offer surgeries. An orthopaedic surgeon from Holland visits twice each year and coordinates the surgeries in these hospitals. Physiotherapists are privileged to observe some of these surgeries. Afterwards, the patients return to the Centre to continue the rehabilitation process which is largely being undertaken by the physiotherapists at the Centre.

Mondays are out-patient days, and on this day, a Physiotherapist sees an average 40 patients a day. The rest of the week is focused on in-patients and a few out-patients who might require special attention. Predominantly, cases admitted at the Centre include club feet, amputations, arthrogryposis, and post-surgery osteotomies. Patients spend approximately 8 weeks going through rehabilitation. An average 30 admissions and 25 discharges are made monthly.

Children on admission enjoy a schooling schedule in their daily programme which is commensurate with their educational requirements and levels, while some patients also receive training in hair-dressing and dressmaking.

Orthopaedic workshop

Most patients depend on orthopaedic appliances for ambulation or function. The orthopaedic workshop of the Centre manufactures the various orthoses and prostheses that the patients need. Some of these include callipers, shoes, splints, and artificial limbs. The workshop caters for the needs of patients across Ghana and West Africa.

Outreach programme

Patients who are unable to visit the Centre due to financial or proximity constraints are not abandoned. An important feature of the Centre is the mobile unit that operates around some towns and villages in Ghana to make our services available where they are needed. No child is turned away because of financial difficulties.

The unit also follows up on our discharged patients. In 2014, the unit covered approximately 18,000 kilometres and treated 2080 patients. Areas in the Volta, Brong-Ahafo, Central and Western Regions are visited monthly, while the Northern and Upper Regions are visited in June and January respectively. Approximately 36 stations make up our outreach program. Between the Monday clinic in Nsawam and the mobile unit, over six thousand patients are treated annually.

On Wednesdays, physiotherapists and their assistants meet with patients to discuss health topics of great concern. Topics discussed include diabetes, posture, first aid, general hygiene, and life as an amputee.

The OTC also serves as an educational environment for students, lecturers, researchers, interns, physiotherapists, medical doctors, and volunteers from all over the world.


Conclusion

The primary goal of the department is to make patients as independent as possible, and that realization – whether in complete or partial form – is the joy of the physiotherapist at the Orthopaedic Training Centre.

 

Written by:
Rachel Oduro
Physiotherapist
Orthopaedic Training Centre

 

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