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By Desilon DanielsThey function under the banner ‘University of Guyana Medical Rehabilitation Students’ Association’ (UGMRSA), young people who split their time between studying and making an indelible mark on Guyana.The most senior of them can be found in rehabilitation institutions, not only in Georgetown but also in West Demerara. Each week, they turn out at the Georgetown Public Hospital, the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre, the Palms Geriatric Home and the West Demerara Regional Hospital to lend their hands to making a difference in the lives of those they interact with. And, each week, they return home, satisfied that they had succeeded in both minor and major ways.From left: Vanessa Wickham, Neil Barry and Jana Edghill are all physiology students and executive members of the University of Guyana Medical Rehabilitation Students’ Association.At the helm of the new association are six young people, all eager to transform their in-class knowledge to real-life changes. They are all under the age of 30 and come from different backgrounds. However, despite these differences,Jerseys From China, they are all linked by a common goal: to better the lives of Guyanese through rehabilitation services.Three of the six executive members of UGMRSA sat down with Kaieteur News for an interview and shared this goal. The members present were Vice-President, Neil Barry, a fourth year student; Secretary, Jana Edghill, a third year student; and Public Relations Officer, Vanessa Wickham, also a fourth year student. They all specialise in Physiotherapy and Barry and Wickham will be amongst the first batch to graduate next year under the revised Medical Rehabilitation Programme which currently offers Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Therapy.During the interview, the trio explained that the association had been conceptualised about a year ago and officially formed this year. Barry explained that the University had a process for the registration of the organisation. This process included students listing their names as members and electing an executive body as well as an association coordinator. This list was finalised, submitted, and the University subsequently authorised the association. Barry added that though the bureaucratic process had taken some time, the executive body had not seen it as a hindrance to the association’s creation.Initially, the association began with 25 students. However, this number grew during a recent induction exercise and saw 35 other students joining the fold. While training was not a part of this induction exercise, training is mandatory as a member of the association. Barry explained that all members of the association receive specialised training courses, organised by the body.“When we do have activities, persons are actually prepared for them. For example, very soon – next month – we have practical sessions with orthopaedic doctors so that students can better understand orthopaedic conditions and how to manage them.” Additionally, he indicated that sessions with medical imaging will be a part of the training to improve the students’ understanding of reading a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In medical rehabilitation, understanding MRIs is a plus since globally the current trend is to use MRIs to identify injuries, particularly sports related injuries.“That’ll help to take Guyana forward in being on par with the way the rest of the world does things.” Eye care sessions for sports accidents are also on the agenda, Barry said.Meanwhile, now 55 members strong, the executive members are not surprised that there is full participation by the entire student population of the Medical Rehabilitation Programme. The programme was initially launched in 2010 with four students as the Rehabilitation Sciences Programme but now it is known as the Medical Rehabilitation programme and has 55 members, all of whom are members of the UGMRSA.The executive members shared that their only surprise is at how quickly the programme’s numbers had grown.Barry said, “I think everyone understands the needs for the association and the benefits it could have so that right there has been motivation for all the students.”Edghill added, “That’s also why I don’t think it’s surprising; we, especially as the executive body, have made it clear that it is very important to have an association like this. Our president is always talking about strength in numbers and we believe in that. It’s something that drives this association and we did a very good job of motivating persons to come on board with us.”However, the association does not only have its sights set only on the student body. Rather, they are hoping to extend a hand to other professionals in the medical rehabilitation field.“That’s something that we want to look at in the long term,” Barry said.“We want the association to serve the needs of the rehab community in Guyana and as we all should know, learning is not a temporary thing; learning is ongoing and as a professional it’s important to keep learning new skills and stay up to date with what’s needed in your society and how to improve services in your society.”NEED FOR KNOWLEDGEHowever, the executive members noted that lack of knowledge on medical rehabilitation is proving to be a hindrance and the first area that will be tackled by the new body.“A limitation is getting people to recognise us,” Wickham said. “A lot of people aren’t au fait with what medical rehabilitation really is. When we started out, our programme started as Rehabilitation Sciences and people thought that it had to do with dealing with people who are mentally ill so now people are becoming more au fait with the fields of Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Therapy. That was a major issue in the beginning.”However, though there have been improvements, much more is needed. Edghill indicated that there are still misconceptions surrounding rehabilitation services.“A lot of Guyanese don’t know about rehab and, if they do, they have a misconception about it. When people ask what I’m doing and I say physiotherapy, they think that it has something to do with massages. But it’s not just massaging; it’s a whole array of things,Borussia Dortmund Fanshop,” Edghill said. “So it’s important that we bring awareness and education to the people while helping them at the same time.”The UGMRSA members all stressed that there are not even rehabilitation professionals currently in Guyana. In relation to speech therapists, there is only one in Guyana. Wickham explained that oftentimes, persons who turn up at the Georgetown Public Hospital for rehabilitation services are given a follow-up date weeks into the future. This is as a result of a lack of much needed professionals onboard.“There are not enough therapists here but it’s very important to have a therapist on a team. Sometimes you hear of situations where the doctor says that a patient cannot walk and sometimes all that is needed is a little bit of therapy and that’ll make a big difference,” Edghill said. She continued,Man Utd New Kit 2018/19, “A lot of people don’t know the benefits of therapy so that’s why education is very important; that’s one of the banners that we’re walking under: education, advocacy, and awareness.”Barry added that his history as a former athlete and one who would have experienced injuries motivated him to get involved in rehabilitation services. “In Guyana, there isn’t much protection for the athlete so by getting into rehab we hope to be able to change the culture in regards to protecting athletes from injuries and getting them back to their sports as soon as possible and maybe even enhance their own performances.” He emphasised that making these services publicly known will go a long way in protecting Guyana’s people. The members also said that rehabilitation programmes suffer from lack of resources and lack of accessibility since the limited services are primarily located in Georgetown.These are the typical challenges of the association but on personal levels, the three executive members indicated that there were no real challenges. Though they are all students in a research-driven programme and spend much time studying, they indicated that their dedication to the association keeps them from seeing it as a challenge or limitation to their educational pursuits.“It’s always difficult balancing studying with extracurricular activities but, personally, it does not bother me. I can’t speak for the rest of the association,” Barry said with a laugh.“It doesn’t bother me either,” Edghill chimed in, before adding, “When you want something to be done and want something to grow, you don’t make it a challenge. When the challenges do come up, you don’t get frustrated or question why you’re doing it; you find ways and solutions and ways to fit everything together. For me, I want to be a part of this. I think it’s a great endeavour and I want us to grow together and, personally, I want to grow as a professional.”“There are no problems or challenges yet because we have a passion for this,” Wickham added. “We really want to see the field of medical rehabilitation change in Guyana. We want persons to recognise this and recognise the functions of the fields. For us, we really wanted to do this and see it take off and it will not only be beneficial to us but to all Guyanese.”The young people further indicated that their studies have adequately prepared them thus far to deal with Guyana’s needs. Barry said that UG’s Medical Rehabilitation Programme is indeed a unique one. He said that while in the Caribbean there is another university that focuses on physiotherapy, UG is unique because it provides training for all three fields.“The services of an occupational therapist and a speech therapist are necessary throughout the Caribbean so Guyana’s programme is unique in the sense that it provides training for all three fields. Even for persons specialising in one field, we still are given additional training in the other two fields so that if we are in an area without an occupational therapist or a speech therapist then we can still carry out these functions,” he said.ULTIMATE GOALS“Ultimately, we want to make rehab services in Guyana the flagship for global rehab care,Dortmund Trikot 2018/19,” Barry said. “And we think that is possible because we have the right kind of population and, in a sense, the entire population is accessible. Most of it is centred in Georgetown and along the coast and the persons outside of Georgetown, their numbers aren’t very high. So, we think if we can standardise care and the level of care provided by rehab professionals then we can really expand across the country in the long-term.” He explained that, globally, the trend is to use evidence-based research. “Our students would have benefited from this and because of the association we can ensure that the persons who go into the field are practising at that level right away. That gives us an advantage in being on par with the global standard of an evidence-based profession.”For Wickham, her ultimate goal is having rehabilitation services accessible in the hinterland regions. She explained that her mother hailed from the interior and she wants to go into hinterland regions to give back. “You won’t find a physiotherapist there; you may not even find a rehab assistant there so I want to be able to get into those areas so that I can provide such services to persons there.”Similarly, Edghill’s ultimate goal is to develop a skills lab on campus for the students. “We need somewhere where we can practice from day one instead of having to come to the hospital. The hospital in itself has limited equipment so the skills lab would have the equipment there so we can practice on it and bring in new and current stuff so that we can learn how to use these equipment. So,Cheap Jerseys Online, the practical part of it will be at a much higher standard in this new area of therapy,Jerseys NBA China,” she said.Furthermore, while the executive members all have a common goal, they each have something driving them towards that finish line.For Barry, “It’s the long term vision of seeing rehab services go places it hasn’t gone as yet and to help improve the programme would be very beneficial to our own society.”For Edghill, the drive is more personal. She indicated that from a very young age she was exposed to rehabilitation since she had suffered from terrible injuries and had required physiotherapy.“It was an area that fascinated me and I always wanted to study it and I’m glad that I found something that I love to do and I want to make a career out of it. Because it’s in its infancy stage in Guyana, we’re still using some of the old techniques so as a young person coming up with this association I can spread the newness and educate people and make them aware of rehabilitation.”Meanwhile, as part of their studies the students use their knowledge and apply it to the real world. While Wickham is attached to the Georgetown Public Hospital,Adam Duvall Jersey, Barry is attached to the Palms Geriatric Home. Edghill will join a work attachment programme next year when she enters final year.For Wickham and Barry, their work attachments are unique experiences. Barry explained that he sees a lot of persons suffering from neurological diseases during his attachment at the Palms. “Just yesterday [Thursday] I worked with a patient who had scoliosis [major curvature of the spine], which can cause paralysis. At the Palms, you can see people years ago who might not have had even a chance of walking and you get to get them to a level where they can live a normal life again,” he said.The UGMRSA executive members all admitted too that their ideas on rehabilitation have changed in the years since they entered the programme: Edghill’s interest in speech therapy grew, Wickham’s focus shifted from speech therapy to physiotherapy, while Barry grew to understand that the scope of physiotherapy was much larger than he had expected. They also shared their biggest surprises since they joined the programme, including the number of children with disabilities and the effectiveness of some of the interventions employed.“At the Palms, a back patient who is almost 80 years old and who you don’t expect to be able to move would have remarkable results in a period of four to eight weeks. There are 80 year olds dancing in there,” Barry said. He said that working with athletes also showed him the effectiveness of rehabilitation services. “When I first started the programme, there were some conditions that we used to think were the end of careers and having applied some of these techniques, within a month we can have someone out there performing at their peak or even better. So that really surprised me.”Wickham added, “We hear about the things but getting out there in the clinic, it’s a different experience from sitting in the classroom and learning about these different conditions or learning about a technique.”“To see it and read about it is two different things,” Edghill added. “It’s kind of like a reality check.”   They all indicated that they only feel excitement to graduate and to throw themselves fully into the association.Currently, the UGMRSA has plans underway to extend its reach across Guyana. It hopes to collaborate with other NGOs for outreach programmes as well as propose assistance in clinics. The executive body is also looking to take its members’ experiences into schools and educate youths on rehabilitation services.
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