Physiotherapy comes to the ghetto

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HARARE — A Taiwanese firm has opened a free physiotherapy centre in one of the country’s poor high-density surbubs — Epworth — in a move that has been welcomed by the local community.

Wadzanai Madhibha

The centre was the brainchild of Chin Chai Chu and has about 15 volunteers, most with nursing backgrounds.

Running for the past three months, the centre has been offering an out-patient service to more than 200 people and only assists patients who have been attended to by doctors and elderly people who need to do exercises.

Chin Chai Chu, the founder of the Tzuchi Centre for Physiotherapy, is a survivor of stroke who has decided to help other people in need of physiotherapy, but cannot afford to pay for the service.

Physiotherapy is a form of medical treatment given to people who cannot move or have difficulty in moving parts of their body and involves exercises, massage or heat treatment.

“I suffered a stroke a few years ago. I could not stand upright. I almost died and that is when l realised that life is not empty when you go through it helping others,” Chu said.

The centre caters for patients of all ages and the elderly come to the centre for guided exercises.

Its doors are open to patients for three days a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

So far, most of the patients who visit the centre are from the local community of Epworth and the areas that surround it.

The centre has three rooms and Chu is in the process of constructing a large clinic to meet the growing number of patients.

To run the centre Chu is assisted by 15 volunteers, among them Otilia Bvuma aged (50), who is a holder of a Certificate in Physiotherapy.

Bvuma said they take patients for a massage and use camphor and deep heat to massage the patients.

“I have worked in the community and have seen that most stroke survivors do not get help and l decided to come and assist Chu in attending to the patients. All patients are individually assessed and therapy is provided on an individual basis,” Bvuma said. She also said their goal was to help manage the incidences of stress affecting the patients and to teach them a maintenance programme to prevent future problems.

One of the patients Netsai Chinyama, who was attended to at the centre said that after undergoing physiotherapy, her condition has improved.

“I am fully fit now, the massaging was very useful and the exercises that l have been going through have been very helpful and the sessions were very informative,” Chinyama said.

People from the community of Epworth welcomed the centre and were very optimistic that Chu will continue helping people in their community. For now, the Epworth community has a facility that can assist those affected by mild stroke and other related ailments.

The voluntary staff at the centre are also in high spirits and have struck a friendly chord with the local residents.

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