It takes patience, strength, and hard work to reclaim independence after an accident or illness.
Our approach to rehabilitation is based on the recognition of individual needs, taking into account a person's individual situation, their environment and the local services available.
Since 1982, rehabilitation projects have formed a key part of our work. At that time, our main activity was providing artificial limbs and rehabilitation to Cambodian landmine victims and refugees in Thailand, enabling them to regain mobility and dignity. Today, our rehabilitation work covers a wider range of activities.
Learning to walk, to speak, to move your arm—for many people who are injured, fitted with a prosthesis or orthosis, or recovering from stroke, autonomy begins by learning again—from scratch—the functions and activities that make up daily life. Physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychomotricians and health care professionals all play a key role along this long road to recovery.
Sadly there is often a shortage of such professionals in the countries where they are most needed. To address this shortage, Handicap International's teams support certified training for these professionals.
To ensure that the rehabilitation projects we work on become self-sufficient in the long-term, our teams work closely with local health rehabilitation and disability stakeholders. To build local and national capacity, our key rehabilitation activities include:
- Training rehabilitation specialists, prosthetic & orthotic technicians and staff managing rehabilitation centers (administration, HR, coordination)
- Developing center-based or community-based rehabilitation services
- Supporting the development of rehabilitation sector within national health and social systems
- Establishing or supporting rehabilitation professional networks and associations.
- Gaining recognition for the training and status of new professionals
- Issues regarding management of services, including cost-recovery schemes
- Choosing appropriate technologies adapted to each context
- Establishing temporary prosthesis production facilities in emergency situations with a view to transferring technology and know-how to support local facilities.
Adapted techniques, appropriate technology
Whether dealing with artificial limbs (known as prostheses, which replace the limb or missing part of the limb), orthoses (which support a paralyzed or weakened limb), or other types of mobility devices (crutches, wheelchairs or walkers), the orthopedic techniques used by Handicap International's specialists are adapted to the equipment, skills and infrastructure available in the field. The technology used is also chosen according to local context. These technical aids help patients to increase their freedom of movement and to adapt to changes in physical capabilities.
Handicap International works closely with Motivation to improve our work in delivering wheelchairs and other mobility devices and have been a regular contributor to international policies and documents developed by the WHO on assistive technology and rehabilitation.
On its own, an artificial limb or orthotic won't change the life of an amputee. Good outcomes require long-term, personalized follow-up. Our teams work closely with local health structures to set up recognized training for ortho-prosthetic technicians and physiotherapists, and support the creation of orthopedic centers.