Occupied Palestinian Territories: MSF opens a hand therapy unit in the Gaza Strip

February 13, 2012

Occupied Palestinian Territories: MSF opens a hand therapy unit in the Gaza Strip © Michel Boutan /MSF

Following a late 2011 visit by two hand surgeons, in early January 2012, MSF opened its first unit dedicated to hand therapy to treat all patients in the Gaza Strip who require this specialized care.

Over a two-week period, French physical therapist and science writer Michel Boutan trained four of our Palestinian physical therapists at our clinic in Gaza City. They were trained to perform manual screening of mobility problems (morpho-palpation), to establish appropriate treatment protocols, to manufacture orthoses (prostheses for the hand) and to use electrical stimulation properly in hand therapy, depending on the patient's illness

A room dedicated to hand therapy was set up in the MSF clinic in Gaza City and outfitted with the necessary supplies. Posters showing rehabilitation exercises were printed. Today, 50 people are benefiting from this specialized care. Most are children. The common goal is to help them restore optimal use of their hand.

At the end of the MSF training, local health authorities and the UNRWA* office in charge of physical therapy organized a half-day workshop to share techniques and knowledge in the area of hand therapy.

* United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East, which provides services to Palestinian refugees

MSF trains local physical therapists in Gaza on treating burns.

On January 11, 2012, in partnership with the Gaza rehabilitation and physical therapy unit, MSF held a training for physical therapists on burn treatment and rehabilitation.

The objective was to increase their knowledge and skill so that patients may benefit from the techniques and elective physical therapy treatment (splints, facial masks and compression garments) and alleviate the serious consequences – medical, social and psychological – that people with severe burns may suffer.

The physical therapists received more than six months' training - theoretical and practical - at MSF's rehabilitation clinic in Gaza City. At the same time, the three units specializing in burn care in the Gaza Strip (the Shifa and Nasser hospitals and the Sheikh Redwan primary care center) were equipped with the necessary supplies (instruments and consumables).

At a ceremony attended by representatives of the Gaza authorities, the World Health Organization, UNRWA* and local and international NGOs, the six physical therapists who participated received a training completion certificate.

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