PT Training Camp: Days Two and Three
We returned to Zhongshan SWI for Day Two of the PT Training. Lisa and I continued to evaluate the remaining children with special needs from Zhongshan SWI and discussed the importance of getting the children up and sitting, even standing for those that showed the ability to be supported in that position. Lisa also evaluated a beautiful five-year-old girl who is unable to speak or chew her food. She really stole our hearts; she has such a gentle personality and is so cute! The staff appreciated all the information Lisa had to share about techniques to stimulate facial and tongue muscles as there is no speech therapy in China. We really appreciate having Julianne with us as a jie jie. When the children seemed afraid of the ladies with the light hair and strange language, Julianne steps right in to play with them, and they seem to forget about us while doing therapy! There were many opportunities to show different therapy techniques to increase strength of the children, and we are so grateful for the training sponsors who provided the funds to establish the therapy and play rooms in this orphanage. The children are receiving really good care, and with just a little more stimulation and opportunities to play therapeutically we believe the children will make great strides in the coming months.
We also met with a sweet thirteen-year-old girl whose papers have been submitted for adoption; however, she will age out in early 2012. She was so nurturing to her little sisters in the orphanage and the babies in the nursery and greeted us each day with a delighted, “Hello!” There were several other older children here whose papers have also been submitted for adoption. They are beautiful, happy, playful children, and we feel they would do so well in a family.
On day three, we were invited to the Liupanshui City SWI on our last day of the PT Training in Liupanshui. The director of the orphanage told us about construction plans for a cerebral palsy center to be built on the grounds of the SWI by the end of 2012. What excited us the most was that they plan to provide services to families in the community who have children with CP as well as orphans with CP. They feel this outreach will encourage families to keep a child born with CP if they know they will have assistance as the child grows. We couldn’t agree more.
We then saw three wonderful older children in the Liupanshui City SWI. The first boy to be evaluated was a six-year-old boy with CP who greeted us with a huge smile and a loud, “Hello!”. He sat slumped over in a small floor seater and thrust his head and body backward when we placed him on the floor. The staff couldn’t have been more surprised to see him gain control of his body through therapy techniques, sit independently on a bench, and even stand up for brief moments, smiling and giggling through it all. He also has a skin condition on his body and scalp that the director asked if we could help with since they have tried many creams without success. This little boy really touched my heart as his laughter and delight was so contagious.
We also saw a 10-year-old boy with a type of CP that causes involuntary writhing movements. He used to walk with a walker, but as he grew taller the walker became too light and easily knocked over due to the writhing movements and he could no longer use it. We were happy to have brought a walker with us from the US that was a perfect fit. He walked up and down the corridor and didn’t want to stop! We were concerned he was getting tired after several laps, but he denied it every time we asked. He had also outgrown his wheelchair, and we provided a larger one for the days when his athetosis makes it impossible to walk. He was so very happy!
Lastly we saw a 10-year-old girl who does not speak to others. The teachers wanted strategies to help encourage her speech as they sometimes hear her talking and singing to herself when alone. Lisa demonstrated speech strategies and gave the little girl some playful toys. She thought the faces Lisa was making to emphasize speech muscles was just too funny. She copied everything Lisa did, cracking up at each of the exercises!
Each day we are here we are so moved to see the determination of so many children facing physical obstacles and the acceptance by the majority of the children of us a strangers. Lisa and I have been therapists for over 20 years and have been to China on previous therapy trips, but we really are amazed by the children we are seeing this week. These children are truly remarkable and happy. We believe it is due to the very good care they receive from their nannies.
We ended the day with a quick trip to Walmart to purchase some toys and treats for the older children back at the Zhongshan orphanage. The photos say it all!
Michelle Murphy, Anhui Cleft Healing Home Coordinator