HomeNewsNSSA centre rehabilitates 685 injured workers

NSSA centre rehabilitates 685 injured workers


Nearly 700 seriously injured workers from all over Zimbabwe have undergone rehabilitation programmes so far this year at the Worker’s Compensation Rehabilitation Centre in Bulawayo.

Of the 685 injured workers admitted to the centre, 209 were outpatients, meaning that they probably live in Bulawayo, while the other 476 were in-patients, mostly from other towns and cities.

The centre, which is situated next to Mpilo Hospital, is the only such centre for injured workers in the country. It can take up to 200 patients at any one time, although it can only accommodate 80 as residents. Statistics such as these, while important, seldom bring home sufficiently the tragic impact that a workplace accident can have on individual workers and their families.

At the end of November NSSA held, as it has done in other years, a Christmas party at the centre for those being rehabilitated at the centre, who were joined for the occasion by a number of other people who had completed their rehabilitation programmes.

A good number were paraplegics, who move around the centre in wheelchairs. Others had lost limbs, such as arms or legs. Others had lost fingers. Others had other disabilities as a result of accidents at work. All had previously been able-bodied workers. In the moments it took for an accident to occur their lives were changed forever.

The Bulawayo rehabilitation centre is well equipped to take care of the rehabilitation needs of injured workers. The services offered there include medical services, counselling, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, social work and vocational training. The centre’s hydrotherapy pool is believed to be the only working hydrotherapy pool in the country. The water is warm and maintained at the ideal temperature for hydrotherapy, a form of therapy that takes advantage of the greater freedom one has to exercise by moving one’s limbs underwater and the beneficial effect that warm water has on the body.

It has an electrotherapy unit, where various types of electrotherapy are used, depending on the physiotherapy needs of the individual. There is a well-equipped gym at the centre as well. The occupational therapy department encourages use of limbs through different activities. This enables rehabilitees to focus on the activities rather than on their pain. The activities are chosen to suit each individual’s needs.

Some of them achieve more than one objective. They may strengthen the back, for instance, at the same time as they are exercising arms or fingers. In this department some learn to cook or to sew with one hand. Others learn how to transfer from a wheelchair to a toilet seat. The emphasis is on using activities to exercise, using what limbs one has to maximum advantage and learning how to carry out day-to-day activities with the limitations imposed by the disabilities that the workplace accident has caused.

The centre provides rehabilitees with appropriate prosthetics and appliances, such as crutches, walking sticks and wheelchairs.

It arranges surgery for those who need it. So far this year the Worker’s Compensation Insurance Fund has paid for four hip replacements, two knee replacements, one cervical fusion and one spinal fusion. Two other hip replacements are due to be done.

The vocational training courses provided at the centre are tailoring, leather craft, welding, carpentry and gardening and poultry. There is also an industrial clinic at the centre, where workers with minor injuries from workplace accidents in Bulawayo are attended to. The clinic also provides treatment and dressings for residents of the centre who need them.

The centre’s social worker plays an important role in counselling those who come to the centre for rehabilitation who may often feel depressed about their situation, which may have far reaching implications for their working and family lives.

He plays an important role too in helping the rehabilitee settle back into normal life, whether at his old workplace, with his family or in his rural home, where he may need a house built for him and a Blair toilet.

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