Mobilizing physical therapists to care for the injured

Just days after an earthquake hit Haiti, Humanity & Inclusion is providing assistance in hospitals in the country’s worst-affected region. A team of physical therapists trained to care for people with earthquake-related injuries will begin work this week.

More than 2,200 people were killed and 12,000 injured in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that hit Les Cayes in southern Haiti on Aug. 14. More than 100 injured people are arriving at hospitals each day, so casualty figures continue to rise. Injuries with delayed treatment due to the absence of health services in remote areas require special care.

“Normally people go to a hospital when they’re injured, get treated, and then hope their injuries heal properly,” says Virginie Duclos, a rehabilitation manager with Humanity & Inclusion’s emergency team. “But emergency rehabilitation has to start on day one to prevent potential long-term consequences and disabilities.”

Humanity & Inclusion has recruited and trained seven physical therapists to provide assistance to patients with these complex injuries.


“We are not teaching people how to be physical therapists in such a short time,” Duclos explains. “Our new recruits have all undergone the proper training and education required to do their jobs. What we’re doing is preparing them for rehabilitation care in an emergency situation, which is different from day-to-day rehabilitation.

“The aim is for these physical therapists to build the capacities of hospitals and rehabilitation centers, of course, but we also want to make sure we work with staff who are aware of these risks and able to explain to patients the next appropriate steps to take.”

Humanity & Inclusion staff is transporting rehabilitation equipment from Port-au-Prince to provide walking aids, in particular, to those injured in the earthquake.

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Header image: A physical therapist provides rehabilitation services to a woman who had a stroke after the Aug. 14 earthquake in Haiti. They are outside a damaged rehabilitation center in Les Cayes. Copyright: Rawley Crews/HI
Inline image: Virginie Duclos, emergency rehabilitation manager for Humanity & Inclusion, leads a rehabilitation training session for physical therapists in Haiti. Copyright: Rawley Crews/HI