As physiotherapist, I have been visiting Ghana almost every year since 2015. I visit ‘PCC Hand in Hand’, which we would classify as an institution for children, teenagers and young adults with mental disabilities. The purpose of my visits is to train mentors in the program and to set up individual practice programs. Next to that, I try to adjust as many medical aids, individually, as possible. During my visits I also see many children from surrounding villages.
“The outreach program supports parents, so that they can continue to take care of their children who have a disability.”
There’s approximately 100 people with a disability living at the institution. They also do many outreach programs in the surrounding areas. The purpose of the outreach programs is to support parents, so that they can continue to take care of their children who have a disability. The outreach team achieves this by educating the parents and the rest of the village about the handicap, offering specific advice and if necessary, provide the needed medical aids.
“Linda has untreated Spina Bifida, she didn’t notice small wounds and these ended up growing into severe pressure injuries”
In 2019 I met Linda. First only through pictures and questions via e-mail. At the time Linda was 11 years old. After her mother passed away, she lived together with her father in a small village in central Ghana. Her father had to work all day on his small plantation to earn enough to keep them both alive. Linda therefor spent most of her time alone, on a hard floor, on the ground. She has untreated spina bifida and has limited sensation in her lower extremities. Linda did not notice small wounds and these grew into severe pressure injuries and caused the loss of several toes.
Via e-mail I was able to advise her about nutrition and posture, but it was very clear to me right away that more was needed in this case. Fortunately, I met Carlos from Vicair during a seminar by Sharon Sutherland-Pratt. He was willing to offer a few products.
“Linda was extremely happy with her Vicair Mattress and Vicair Adjuster wheelchair cushion.”
During my visit in the summer of 2019, I could help Linda with a Vicair mattress for the nights and we also provided a Vicair Adjuster cushion for her wheelchair. Linda was over the moon and extremely happy with her mattress and wheelchair with wheelchair cushion straight away!
Thanks to the Vicair Adjuster cushion she was able to sit properly in the back of her wheelchair and shear forces were minimizes whilst she learned to ride her wheelchair. In the following months her wounds healed completely, mostly thanks to the mattress and the excellent wound care provided by PCC Hand in Hand. Linda really hoped that with her wheelchair she was able to return to school. Unfortunately, this wasn’t accepted by the other parents in the village and once again she ended up sitting at home. In Ghana there is still a big taboo surrounding people with a disability.
“After 1,5 years full time use in Ghana, I was concerned about the state of the wheelchair cushion. I was extremely surprised to find it completely intact, cover looking like new.”
In 2020 Linda moved onto the institution’s property and feels at home. She is now part of a school program that is adjusted to her capabilities. She is very agile in her wheelchair and practices a lot to become independent. When I met her again in early 2020, I saw a strong, healthy young lady who has a very proud look in her eyes. I had some concerns about the Vicair Adjuster wheelchair cushion after it had been used for 1,5 years, because materials tend to wear down quickly in Ghana’s climate. I have to say I was extremely surprised to find the wheelchair cushion in a really good state without a single broken SmartCell and a cover that looked like new.