02 October 2011

Everyone suddenly has a mirror

Thursdays brings a bus from Port au Prince full of patients needing fittings for their prosthetics and our busiest day yet. After seeing several patients, we notice that many more individuals are walking around with mirrors. What has happened is a common occurrence in the region (or anywhere aid is being given out): patients saw other individuals receiving mirrors and, wanting them, took them. I pass no judgment, as I would do the same thing in this situation. At this point, we realized individuals knew we were giving away something of value and stop recording data as it would be extremely biased with patients saying what they think they need to say in order to please us and receive a mirror. We had always been extremely careful in not telling patients they would be receiving the mirror until the very end of the session as to bias them as little as possible.

We speak with the physical therapists at the Hanger Clinic, asking if there is a better way we could give out the mirrors: in the future, should we wait until the end of the day to give out any mirrors? They tell us it wouldn't make a difference and they encounter this difficulty all the time. When a patient receives sneakers along with their new prosthetic so they may wear the prosthetic, the other patients want sneakers, too. When a patient receives socks, all the other patients come up to them, asking why they didn't get socks.

Tonight Nicole and I prepare our powerpoint presentation for the hospital staff and medical director. I include information regarding sensory referral (amputees with phantom pain may massage the residual limb and also feel relief in the phantom) so that, when the mirrors we have brought run out, the therapy may continue after we have left.


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