04 June 2012

Alphington Sports Medicine Clinic's Madeleine Ellis (physiotherapist) traveled to East Timor recently to volunteer with the East Timor Eye Program - She has been good enough to recount her exerieces for us

April of this year I was invited to travel with the East Timor Eye Program to lend assistance with a surgical eye team in Maliana, a remote town on the border of Indonesia. During my stay I was lucky enough to assist and work with the Physiotherapist at Maliana Hospital. Being the eager Australian traveling to a third world country to assist, I found it very difficult at first as the standard and the pace of the profession was quite different. That and the noticeable advantage of our education here in Australia.

I thought it would be best to include some photos in this blog piece (click here to see the photos). Simply writing about my experiences wouldn't have done it justice. One photo demonstrates a baby born with club feet. In Australia, a baby with such a rigid foot as I found in this child would be sent for an opinion of the Orthaepedic Surgeon immediately. However, in such circumstances you have to make do with what treatment methods you have available so in this case it was plastering the baby’s foot instead, as you can see.

I found that the roles of a Physiotherapist were quite different when compared to Australia and many standardised practices were not seen to take place. For example, post surgery there was no advice given to the patient regarding methods to decrease risk of post operative complications, no rehabilitation post surgery and differing views of prophylactic infection procedures.

During my stay I discussed with the Physiotherapist current best practice protocols and we treated patients together. I found the exchanged stories of very different experiences within the profession very interesting. We have exchanged contact details and now I'm hoping that I can send supplies and help with further education within the hospital on an ongoing basis.

All in all, a challenging and rewarding experience. Involvement I hope to continue with in the future.

Madeleine Ellis