For people injured as a result of war or natural disasters, who suffer from congenital impairments such as club foot, or who are affected by disabling diseases such as polio, rehabilitation is the first step towards regaining independence.
Since 1982, rehabilitation projects have formed a key part of our work. At that time, our main activity was providing artificial limbs and rehabilitation to Cambodian landmine victims and refugees in Thailand, enabling them to regain mobility and dignity. Since then, our rehabilitation work has expanded to cover a wide range of activities.
Adapted techniques, appropriate technology
Whether we are fitting artificial limbs (also called prostheses1), orthoses2 or other types of walking aids (e.g. walkers and wheelchairs), the techniques our teams use are adapted to the equipment, skills and infrastructure available in the field.
The technology we use is also chosen according to the local context. Indeed the people we help usually need long-term, personalised follow-up and we must ensure that the walking aid they receive is adapted to their situation. Is the patient farming rice fields or living in town, will they need to go up a ladder or can they walk on tarmac, will they be able to come back to a centre to get their artificial limb fixed if it breaks? These are all questions our specialised teams look at before deciding on the most appropriate support.
Learning to walk, to speak, or to move your arm... for many people injured or fitted with an artificial limb or a walking aid, this process begins with re-learning the movements essential to daily life activities. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychologists and healthcare professionals all play a key role on the long road to recovery.
To ensure that the rehabilitation projects we work on become self-sufficient in the long term, Handicap International works closely with local health & rehabilitation stakeholders. To build local and national capacity, our key rehabilitation activities include:
- Training rehabilitation specialists, prosthetics & orthotics technicians and staff managing rehabilitation centers (administration, HR, coordination)
- Developing rehabilitation services
- Supporting the development of rehabilitation services within national health and social systems through the establishment of professionals' networks
- Gaining recognition for the training and status of new professionals
- Issues regarding management of services, including cost-recovery schemes
- Choosing appropriate technologies adapted to each context
- Establishing temporary prosthesis production facilities in emergency situations with a view to transferring technology and know-how to support local facilities.
1 A prosthesis replaces the limb or the missing part of the limb.
2 An orthosis supports a paralyzed or weakened limb.