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Children's first time on beach a moving experience for Physio students

Published:20 June 2018

Charlene Naumann (centre of top image) pictured with the other CQUni students who spent five weeks on a Physiotherapy placement in Vietnam recently.

When a group of CQUniversity Physiotherapy students took their skills on a clinical placement to the Da Nang region of Vietnam, it was not only their healing hands that were appreciated.

The five students also helped take children from a local youth centre for a day at the beach.

"The beach was only five minutes away but due to limited resources for some of the orphans it was their first opportunity to play on the sand," says Charlene Naumann, a Bundaberg Physiotherapy student now living in Brisbane for clinical placements.

"Some of them even tried to drink the water when they were pouring it from buckets over their heads.

"They did not realise the waves could knock them over."

Charlene says the CQUni students provided physiotherapy treatment, under supervision, at a range of youth centres and charity clinics for people experiencing homelessness.

"It was great to be able to get the bed-bound children out of bed and engaging with us.

"Vietnam was an amazing experience to see how they achieve things without the resources that we have in Australia. It was an insight into the challenges they have and the resources they need but can't afford."

Charlene says the whole trip was also a great opportunity for bonding between the CQUni students.

Physiotherapy academic Tanya Palmer, who travelled with the students, said the placement was arranged through GGC Volunteers LTD, a not-for-profit volunteer agency run by physiotherapist Phuc Nguyen.

GGC Vietnam provides Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy student placements as well as healthcare professional volunteer packages within the Da Nang province of Vietnam.

"Throughout the five weeks in Vietnam, the Physiotherapy students completed clinics and therapy sessions within 10 different youth centres, charity clinics or schools," Tanya says.

"Some clinics were in remote, rural or mountain towns, requiring the group to travel up to two hours to visit the clinics each week.

"The students showed exceptional clinical skills, professional and cultural sensitivity in a culture that has minimal western medicine.

"They worked with children and their families/carers that have very limited knowledge of the children’s conditions and their therapy needs or long-term prognoses.

"The students learnt first-hand the daily struggle some families and children go through to get through their days. Despite how disabled some children were, the students were able to see improvements in the children’s gross motor function.

"Students learnt many valuable Vietnamese lessons, including how to eat and drink with the locals, that Karaoke isn’t just a Japanese favourite, that the Vietnamese language isn’t easy and that they are a very peaceful and giving culture.

This Physiotherapy study tour is part of the CQUGlobal Outbound Program with students receiving funding under the Government’s New Colombo Plan.