Tanzania Physical Therapy Service, Day 1
| August 28, 2017 |
– From August 15, 2017 in Tanzania, Africa –
Mack’s SnoreBlocker earplugs are my saving grace. I only woke up once last night to dogs fighting around 2:30am, and then again around 5am to the rooster crowing. Yet, we all found our ways to breakfast, successfully greeting “habari asubuhi” to the cooking staff.
We were ready to depart at a (not so sharp) 8am to head to our service project placements for the day. Gabriel arrived on time, we filled our water bottles, and headed to first drop one group at Shanga, then continue on to Step-by-Step. At the end of the service day, we’d drive from SSLC to pick everyone up at Shanga, and return to our accommodations at L’Oasis.
Our days at SSLC are split into two sections: morning sessions with the students from ~9:00am to 12:00pm, followed by lunch, and afternoon sessions with SSLC staff until ~3:30pm. There’s much to do in a short time here in Tanzania. After realizing the potential of SSLC (Step-by-Step Learning Centre), and discussing future goals, there’s definitely some groundwork that needs to be laid this year. The past two trips of PT students (April 2016 and April 2017) didn’t have a system of official documentation, so this time we decided to be more official on the projects. This way, we can have a more sustainable outreach program, and each group can build on what the previous had contributed.
The objectives outlined by Margaret for this year at SSLC are as follows:
- Review what SSLC staff are already doing with the 7 students who need Physiotherapy
- Compile, upgrade, add new physiotherapy aids and equipment
- SSLC staff learn new physiotherapy techniques
- Improve car seats and wheelchairs for Bryson and Azariah
- Document main learning and experiences from the workshop: handouts, notes, pictures
- Inspire parents/guardians/caregivers to do physiotherapy with their children
This year, there are two new students at SSLC who need Physical Therapy Evaluations: Imran and Nasra! Unfortuantely, one of the students in need was unable to get transport this week, so we can’t follow up with Neema. However, Bryson, Arnold, Hans, Rashid, Imran, Nasra, and Azariah (an outreach student) were all available!
What We Taught
Our first step after circle time (the most uplifting way to start a day, full of singing and prayers) was to have everyone understand WHAT Physical Therapy is. We went around in a circle after I did a hokey-pokey-like demonstration of PT.
Afterwards, we aimed to get as much of a social/medical history as possible. The students from Stony Brook (Sarah, Meaghan, Jamie, and Lo) and I split into groups with the teachers and caregivers to gather useful information. Nasra was accompanied by her cousin, Bryson by his 21-year-old brother (his primary caregiver), and Azariah by his mother. All other student histories were obtained from SSLC staff members and the information on file.
In the afternoon, we discussed the basics of official documentation in the medical field, specific to Physical Therapy evaluations and daily notes. Good ol’ “SOAP” notes. We broke it down into simple sections for the staff members, then discussed the first “subjective” section at length, asking what medical information is important in Tanzania. Things like “cerebral malaria” made it onto our list of prior medical conditions.
- Subjective: what the Student Says
- Objective: what I Observe and measure
- Assessment: goals and overall Analysis
- Plan: what next? How much physiotherapy?
We also reviewed an important topic from April 2016, and had the SSLC staff recount the definition of “cerebral palsy.” EVERY staff member from last year wrote that it was caused by a decrease in oxygen to the brain (NICE!!!). The two newer SSLC staff members, Francis and Sister Emma, were full of questions, such as when someone can be diagnosed with CP, what kinds of accidents can cause it, etc. Gabriel, our trusted driver from Edutours, said the words “athetotic” and “hypertonic.” Jaw-droppingly impressive, much? We also started connecting the definitions to student presentations again. Hans has hemiplegic, spastic cerebral palsy. Should we go into spasticity today? No, no, no I think their brains will explode. Let’s leave these textbooks with them, and we’ll go into more details tomorrow…
What We Learned
- Driving in traffic circles clockwise will never feel normal.
- “Duka la dawa” is a “store of drugs,” or pharmacy. This is where a lot of people self-medicate, which leads to some untreated health conditions in Tanzania.
- Resourcefulness is key! Our ‘chai time’ bananas are given to the goats to feed. The paper, leftover maize, newspaper, etc, is all made into a soup and then dried/compressed into fire logs.
Photo of the Day
All of us ready to go to our clinics for the day! From left to right: Charli, Sarah, Jamie, ME!, Lo, Jackie, Meaghan, and Ryan. Gab’s car featured in the background…!
Swahili Lesson of the Day
“Maisha marefu” – CHEERS!
Laugh of the Day
Twin bananas at chai time!
Well, confession, the REAL laugh of the day was seeing a ridiculous decal on one of the dalla-dallas… buuuuuuut I think I’ll keep this as an inside joke with the SSLC girls… 0:)
To read more about Step-by-Step Learning Centre, the staff, and students (and/or to donate to their unique, passionate vision), please visit their website here: www.sslc-tz.com
With love and gratitude, Kristen “KConn”