Lack of Physical Rehabilitation Services on the African Continent

Imagine a CT scan costing a half month’s salary; an MRI costing a full month’s salary and an surgical procedure costing 52 month’s pay. Ridiculous? Well that’s what it can cost for those procedures in certain African countries. And then only if the equipment and technicians are available.
There are approximately 78 million disabled Africans who are unserved in Physical Medicine and rehabilitation services (PM&R). Mainly this is because there is inadequate manpower and equipment. Most of the health priorities of the African countries lie in issues such as Aids,TB, Malaria and ailments related to pregnancy and child birth.
The Red Cross says that policy reforms regarding the physically disabled are needed. They need help  in accessing appropriate orthopaedic and rehabilitation services, an expert stated recently.
The chairperson of the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) Special Fund for the Disabled, Prof Claude Le Courte, raised the concern during the on-going 6th congress of the African Federation of Orthopaedic Technicians (FATO).
According to the statement, these reforms have to include changing the policies and delivery system, developing funding mechanisms, increasing human resources, expanding and decentralizing services and delivery, among others.
The World Report on Disability is recommending that all countries should develop a national strategy and/or policy for the delivery of adequate physical rehabilitation services.
She said the main problem facing people with disabilities in low income countries was the cost of rehabilitation services worsened by the cost of accessing the services. She therefore pledged ICRC’s full support to improve access to appropriate physical rehabilitation services for the disabled.
The WHO representative in Tanzania, Dr Rutaro Chatora, said besides the road carnage on Africa’s roads, the problem of disabilities on the continent has been worsened by many wars and civil strife in various countries.
According to a report, last year 43,000 people with disabilities from Africa attended and benefited from various services at ICRC-supported centers. They included provision of prostheses, orthoses, walking and wheelchairs, along with access to appropriate therapy allowing an optimal use of the devices.
One of the devices that can help in recovery of disabled limbs and which is non verbal and therefore usable by most of the African people is the TUTOR system. A relatively inexpensive device that can be purchased by the Red Cross or WHO and delivered to all the rehabilitation centers.
Occupational and physical therapists use the HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR and 3DTUTOR –  these physical therapy products are a part of the  TUTOR system, a manual therapy tool to help them with their rehabilitative work.
The TUTOR system has shown much success in rehabilitation of joint movement. The newly developed TUTORs consist of ergonomic wearable devices. The HANDTUTOR is a glove for hand therapy and the ARMTUTOR is an arm brace for elbow and shoulder rehabilitation. The LEGTUTOR is a leg brace for legs and hips. The system is indicated for patients who have suffered TBI, a stroke, SCI, CP, MS, Parkinson’s disease and other mobility restraining illnesses. It is used by occupational therapists and physiotherapists in rehabilitation centers, private clinics and private homes where it can be supported by telerehabilitation. It is designed for those who have head, trunk, upper and lower extremity movement dysfunction.
The Tutor system is a physical therapy solution consisting of motivating and challenging games that allow the patient to practice isolated and/or interjoint coordination exercises.  The dedicated rehabilitation software allows the physical and occupational therapist to fully customize the exercises to the patient’s movement ability. In addition, the OT and PT can make objective follow up and reports on their patient’s progress. Rehabilitation aims to optimize the patient’s motor, sensory and cognitive performance and allows the patient to better perform everyday functional tasks to improve their quality of life.
The TUTORS are certified by the FDA and CE. See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for more information.
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