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Rehabilitation improves mobility, wellness for Gatluak


Gatluak Muon used to find daily activities challenging and felt isolated from his community. With physical rehabilitation care from Humanity & Inclusion, he is already experiencing progress.

Young boy smiling as he stands outside between two parallel bars made of wood.

Gatluak in between two parallel bars as part of his rehabilitation sessions. | © HI

Gatluak, 7, lives in the Nguenyyiel refugee camp in Gambella, Ethiopia. Born in South Sudan, warfare forced his family to flee to Ethiopia when he was only 3.

When she was pregnant with him, Gatluak’s mother did not have access to the medical follow-up she needed, which led to pregnancy complications and developmental delays for her baby. Gatluak was born with cerebral palsy, and began showing signs of intellectual and physical disabilities as a toddler. Movement and speaking were difficult and he did not play with other children his age.

Gatluak began to show signs of depression due to a lack of attention and support from his family and community. His appearance changed dramatically as he became thin and lost his strength. He experienced pain throughout his body and developed paralysis and muscle spasms, making it difficult to perform simple actions on his own.

A young Black boy walks between two wooden parallel bars toward a physical therapist

Improving his independence

One day, Humanity & Inclusion’s team met Gatluak when conducting door-to-door visits with its community workers. A physical therapist noted that physical rehabilitation could improve his ability to perform everyday activities. After an individual assessment, the physical therapist developed a treatment plan that included various rehabilitation exercises, and they began working together right away.

At first, it was particularly challenging, since the exercises were sometimes painful. Gatluak worked through the pain and continued performing exercises like stretching and gait trainings to improve his range of motion. He regularly visited Humanity & Inclusion’s physical therapist, and was taught to practice his exercises twice a day. At home, he uses parallel bars that Humanity & Inclusion made for him with locally-sourced materials. Gradually, he’s begun to show progress. After only a few weeks he could walk and stand with minimal assistance.

Gatluak’s mother also played a significant role in his improvement. She learned the rehabilitation exercises with him and helped him practice at home every day. Humanity & Inclusion’s actions improved the mother-child bond between them and promoted Gatluak’s psychosocial wellbeing.

Today, the smile on his face says a lot. He is now playful and positively responding to the rehabilitation sessions that help make him more independent.   

“I’m so happy with my child's improvement,” his mother says. “I hope he will be able to go to school and play with his friends soon.”

Date published: 11/29/22


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