Regaining independence and mobility through rehabilitation

The disastrous scenario played out in Syria and Iraq, is being repeated in Yemen. Civilians have been caught up in the fighting while widespread bombing and an armed group resorts to the use of mines. Thomas Hugonnier, Humanity & Inclusion's operations manager in the Middle East, explains our rehabilitation services in Yemen.

"We have set up a war rehabilitation service"

Aiman al-Mutawak, one of Humanity & Inclusion's physical therapists in Yemen, explains what makes rehabilitation unique in a conflict setting.


Humanity & Inclusion's rehabilitation team starts working with patients the day after their operation. We supply them with mobility aids, such as crutches, wheelchairs, or walkers. This restores some of their mobility and dignity. This allows them to go to the bathroom on their own, without needing someone to take them. Psychologically, it makes a big difference.


Physical therapists start with basic hands-on treatment. They perform gentle exercises, massage the scar to prevent stiffness, and provide practical advice to patients and their families on how to clean the stump and move without pain. We also show them the exercises they should do in order to restore mobility, prepare the stump for a prosthesis, etc. Caregivers play a important role in the recovery process.


Post-operative care almost didn't exist in Sana'a. We set up an emergency rehabilitation service and trained more than 500 medical staff. Patients would spend days or weeks in their hospital beds without moving. Then, they would return home. When a patient doesn't move often, they risk muscular contraction, which can cause problems bending an affected leg–and therefore walking again–or using an arm to drink, eat, or do other routine tasks.


Our physical therapists teach the patients how to do rehabilitation exercises on their own, such as bending their leg to climb stairs, or doing routine tasks with their arm such as washing, drinking, and dressing themselves. Patients need to understand the risk of disability if rehabilitation exercises are not done properly.


Rehabilitation exercises are always associated with everyday tasks to make sure patients do them at home. They are discharged rapidly from crowded hospitals where new patients arrive daily. We give them as much information as possible in a short space of time to make it more likely they will do exercises at home, and regain full mobility and independence.