Limb Reconstruction Physiotherapist
The partnership between King’s College Hospital, London and Shifa Hospital, Gaza began in 2015 and has supported the development of trauma care services in Gaza, with a particular focus on the newly established limb reconstruction service. Since the partnership began 59 clinicians have been trained in the team management of trauma including 25 health workers who are now able to deliver a limb reconstruction service. Moreover, the target to improve patient measures of pain, physical and psychological functioning was met and exceeded, so too was the reduction in number of patients referred outside of Gaza on clinical grounds.
With a strict blockade, continuous conflict and aid cuts, Gaza’s infrastructure, particularly their health system, has been gravely affected. Lifesaving treatments are hard to find and the supply of medical amenities is incessantly delayed, so too is the medics’ movement and training. We met Qasim Mohammed during her trip to London in June 2017 to further her fully funded THET training with Kings. She is one of 59 health workers we trained throughout the whole project.
“I joined the limb reconstruction team in 2015. My experience before the project was in orthopaedics.
In Gaza we are always at war and we receive many complex injuries, there is a great need for limb reconstruction and that is why I have specialised in this. While elsewhere people can afford the luxury to get treatment from abroad, in Gaza patients are grounded and it is upon us to treat them. I do my best and I am always happy when we achieve a good outcome.
The partnership has really changed things for our team in Gaza. We were visited by a physiotherapist from King’s College Hospital who discussed patients’ cases with us and explored the options on how best to treat them. This gave me new knowledge and experience and I became better able to support limb reconstruction patients who need qualified physiotherapists with specialist skills, as limb reconstruction is a long and complex process with many stages.
In Gaza we work in a similar manner to King’s but there really is a huge difference in working conditions. For example, we have a shortage of rooms. As a physiotherapist I need a gym in the inpatient clinic for patient exercises but we don’t have one. Additionally, the hospital’s environmental hygiene is wanting so we are at a higher risk of acquiring hospital infections, health workers and patients alike.
Also here [in the UK] you can find everything; crutches and all assistive devices are available. But in Gaza sometimes there are shortages in assistive devices, like splints for patients with lower limb injuries. Sometimes without these, our job is difficult. I will try, when I go back, to get another room and redesign it as a gym for inpatients. This would be very helpful for the patient, helping them to build up their muscles, range of movement and get back to their normal life. When I return to Gaza I will definitely share the skills I have learnt with my colleagues.
Now more than ever, I am grateful for my newly acquired skills and knowledge in limb reconstruction from this training.”
 not real name for security purposes