Rana helps a person with a double amputation to practice walking on new legs

Strong steps forward thanks to physical therapy

A disability can exclude a person from their work or community. Humanity & Inclusion rehabilitation services help people regain mobility and get back into employment and social activities. Since 2019, Humanity & Inclusion physical therapist Rana Abdel Al has worked with persons with disabilities in Lebanon. Among them, many were injured during the war in Syria.

Syrians have been refugees in Lebanon for years. How are they faring?

They are desperate. The Syrian refugees in Lebanon are very poor and their situation has worsened in recent months. They often rent a house, but due to the economic crisis since last year and the COVID-19 pandemic, they can no longer pay the rent and many fear eviction. Sometimes, the head of the family has the chance get a job. Recently, however, unemployment has skyrocketed and many families now have no incomes. I see families that reduce their food consumption or do not have the possibility of accessing medical services because, for example, they have to take the bus to go to the clinic and they cannot pay for a ticket.  

What rehabilitation services does Humanity & Inclusion provide?

Humanity & Inclusion supports persons with injuries and disabilities in their neighborhoods and refugee settlements through outreach teams, providing rehabilitation services at home. We also deliver sessions at several rehabilitation centers. We have partnered with two local organizations that specialize in rehabilitation services, and four clinics in the Bekaa region and North Lebanon. Since January, we have supported more than 400 people including 250 Syrian refugees.

We also supply prostheses and orthotics, donate mobility aids (wheelchairs, walking frames, etc.) and items responding to specific needs (anti-sore mattresses, toilet chairs, etc.) to people with injuries and disabilities as well as to local clinics or NGOs. In some clinics and community centers we have equipped the rehabilitation rooms with training stairs, rehabilitation treadmills, and much more.

Why are rehabilitation services so important?

If a person has lost a part of their mobility because of a car accident, the violence of war, or something else, physical rehabilitation can help to avoid developing permanent mobility complications. Other people who have permanently lost some of their mobility need physical rehabilitation to avoid medical complications such as muscle contracture, imbalance, and restricted joint mobility. These limit the person’s physical capacity to move and perform activities, but many recover a certain level of mobility thanks to a prosthesis, a wheelchair or a walking frame.

What kinds of injuries or disabilities do you deal with?

At the moment, I am supporting a young Syrian girl with a spinal cord injury that was caused by a bombing in Syria when she was two years old. She is now nine, and up until now was unable to walk. We have provided her with orthoses, a walking frame and rehabilitation sessions where she has started to learn how to walk. Soon, she will go to school like any other child her age. It is a big change in her life.

I have another example: A young man stepped on a landmine and lost his two legs. Since his accident, he was isolated from the community. Now he is able walk with two prostheses.

Do you specialize in supporting children?

Absolutely. At a national level, we have a project to include children with disabilities in schools. I assess the physical condition of around 75 children who cannot go to school because of their disability. The main goal is to provide them adapted equipment or services to make schools accessible to them.

PHOTO: Physical therapist Rana works with a patient as he navigates parallel bars and tries out his new legs. ©Humanity & Inclusion