Physio students able to help Vietnamese children with disabilities

Published:18 July 2019

CQUni Physiotherapy students on a clinical placement tour in Vietnam. TOP: Left to right are Dean McKinnon, Thomas Welldon, Samantha McPake, Shannon Racz, Amber Bowers and Lauren Palmer, visiting the Golden Bridge on Ba Na Hill, Da Nang. BELOW: The students completed their placement with GGC Volunteers LTD.

CQUniversity Physiotherapy students have been able to share their clinical skills while monitoring improvements in the motor function of children with disabilities, at 10 different sites throughout Vietnam.

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," Ms Palmer says.

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

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," Ms Palmer says.

"The students worked with children and their families/carers who 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 are, 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. They learnt that karaoke isn’t just a Japanese favourite, that soccer is one of the local residents' sport of choice, that the Vietnamese language isn’t easy and that they are a very peaceful and giving culture."

Student Shannon Racz noted that "it's been such a privilege to be able to learn in the clinics with the kids, as well as learning and enjoying overseas travel".

Another student, Dean McKinnon says "it's amazing how little some of these kids have yet they are so happy".

Student Thomas Welldone says that "despite the level of disability, these kids achieve so much and melt your heart".

Amber Bowers noted that she had "achieved and learnt so much more on this placement than just physiotherapy hands-on skills".