Dreams within reach

Handicap International physiotherapists make hand orthoses for John, who has cerebral palsy and whose family was rendered homeless by super typhoon Haiyan. © Maud Bellon / Handicap International

Handicap International physiotherapists make hand orthoses for John, who has cerebral palsy and whose family was rendered homeless by super typhoon Haiyan. Photo: Maud Bellon / Handicap International

John, a fifteen year old boy who was born with cerebral palsy, used to live with his parents in a house close to the beach in Tacloban. But the wind, and above all the water that came with Typhoon Haiyan, destroyed everything. One of their neighbours was washed away by the waves. His body is still missing. The whole family is traumatized by the disaster.

His mother accompanied John to a public hospital called EVRMC. The hospital’s physiotherapy room was destroyed during the Typhoon, but has since been rehabilitated by Handicap International. There John was examined by two of Handicap International’s physiotherapists. They’ve decided the boy needs hand orthoses. John’s hands are deformed, and because of the spasms, he can’t hold anything in them. The orthesis will allow him to use his hands and to correct his positioning.

“Making this orthesis is complex and expensive,” says Henri, an occupational therapist. “The material must be warmed at 83 degrees, then put on the arm until it hardens and takes the exact form of the arm. John will be able to take off his orthesis whenever he wants to. But it’s clear this will change a lot for him: he will be able to hold things and to perform some daily activities. Handicap International will follow up his situation. Every Tuesday and Friday, John will go to the hospital for a thorough check-up and some physiotherapy. His parents are also invited so that they can see how to use the orthoses correctly.”