02 October 2011

Presentations, presentations, presentations!

Friday is full of presentations. Our first presentation is at the hospital's morning meeting and is for the medical staff and medical director. I begin the presentation in English, with Nicole offering a French translation. Our presentation is met with much success and we receive many thanks for having brought this therapy – that it's ease of use and simplicity makes it well suited for the region. They are extremely appreciative for the mirrors and invite Nicole and I to attend rounds. Rounds is incredibly interesting. The role of nurses in the States is far different from that in Haiti. I witness several arguments between doctors and nurses when the doctor instructs the nurse to assist them. The nurses in Haiti have an incredibly strong union and, since they can't easily be fired, often hang out by the water cooler instead of assisting patients. I offer this information not to pass judgment, but to open the problem up for solutions. This is a big problem for the hospital and they are open to suggestions.

Probably the most difficult moment of the entire trip for me was during rounds when we learned that pain medicine is in short supply in Haiti and patients are often treated without it, especially children. One young girl had an elbow fracture that had become infected and thus the doctors had begun to remove muscles from her arm to prevent the infection from spreading further. Having experienced chronic myofascial pain throughout my adolescence, seeing someone else in such pain without relief was incredibly difficult. The best we could do was sit with her, comfort her, and try to distract her until the doctors were finished.

After rounds finish, Claude and I figure out how to divide the mirrors we have brought for both the Hanger Clinic and the physical therapy clinic at the hospital. Nicole, Lina, Brittany and I first bring these mirrors to the physical therapy clinic. I am incredibly excited to see upon entering the physical therapy clinic that they are already doing the therapy. This is incredibly moving and assures me that the therapy will continue after we have left. We leave the mirrors and speak with several of the physical therapy students. They tell us all about what they've learned from mirror box therapy and, again, ask many intelligent questions. They are eager to learn more and we exchange contact information. Any of these bright students would be an excellent addition to weekly lab meetings back home!

Claude and I then bring the rest of the divided mirrors to the Hanger Clinic and present to their staff. The physical therapists and prosthetics are eager to learn more and I thus teach them many other tactile illusions, including the rubber hand illusion (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-third-hand-illusion) and how to scratch a phantom itch (Seckel, E., Rogers-Ramachandran, D.,Ramachandran, V.S. (November, 2011) Scratching a real itch with an illusory scratch. Society for Neuroscience.)

We leave the Hanger Clinic with a copy of Dr. V.S. Ramachandran's latest book, Tell Tale Brain, so they may continue expanding their knowledge of the field.

Tonight Orlsy, who is a famous local artist and now teaches art to the local homeless orphans after the earthquake, picks up the duffle bags Lina and Brittany have brought that are overflowing with art and school supplies. He teaches us it is best to bring the supplies in to the school slowly, that way one avoids a mad rush and fighting. He will keep the supplies safe at his house. (Nicholas has previously told us that Olcy is incredibly trustworthy and the best person to handle the supply distribution at the school.) (Image on right is of our new dear friend Olcy at this art studio in Deschapelles.


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