24 March - ¡Ninos!
Today was a distinct change from yesterday! We set up shop at one of HIM’s clinics and welcomed children from a small village located 6 hours away. The focus of today’s effort was to determine whether or not they would benefit from orthotic devices to assist their walking. The children’s diagnoses included cerebral palsy, pediatric stroke, and spina bifida.
HIM typically focuses on patients living in the local community, as this location is far enough away from the city that medical care is very limited. Additionally, many other services rotate through the area including several different surgical specialties. When surgery is indicated, it is important for the patient to live close enough to receive necessary follow-up care. But for days like today, it is possible to cast a wider net and invite patients from farther communities.
We had a smaller case load today, so I was able to relax a little and work together with the other therapists rather than seeing my own patients. I appreciated this opportunity to absorb more of the therapy and spend less mental energy on the language challenges. The kids were really a lot of fun and we were able to understand each other just fine without words! Throughout the course of the day, we performed a few wheelchair adjustments and fitted many AFOs as well as providing home exercise program recommendations.
It’s only the second day of work, and I already feel like I have learned so much! I think I might be getting more out of this experience than I am giving. The therapists are great, guiding and coaching me. The patients are amazing, so kind and understanding. I know I am becoming a better person thanks to these experiences, first in Peru and now in Guatemala, and I hope to be able to pay it forward by being a better therapist to future patients.