It was a busy week that started with Tanzanian Independence day. In the morning, people gathered in the stadium to watch the President say a few words. I stayed home to watch from afar and enjoy my free time, but the sounds of people celebrating could be heard around the city and from the stadium.
Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday I was back in the clinic. In total now, I have had 111 visits; 64 of those are first visits and the rest are follow-ups. The common diagnoses are the same — mechanical low back pain, osteoarthritis, and cerebral palsy. Most individuals present with spinal complaints (ie. back pain), followed by lower extremity (which is a common area for osteoarthritis), widespread, and upper extremity complaints.
The week presented a couple challenging neurological cases. Two individuals presented with sudden loss of motor function. These are especially challenging when advanced imaging techniques, like MRI, are not readily available. Without a clear diagnosis, it is tough to create a good management plan. We often have to wait for more information, either through more testing or through the appearance of more symptoms or the disappearance of current ones. Individuals often travel long distances to get to the hospital, so it is tough not being able to offer any kind of immediate help.
On Wednesday, I spent the day at SOS Children’s Village. I worked with three boys who have cerebral palsy. Most of the time was spent assessing their motor abilities through play. Over the next few weeks, I’ll come up with exercises in the form of games that address their motor challenges. The exercises will then be passed on to the Mamas of the houses where they stay, so the boys can continue improving their skills. It also gives the Mamas some resources for future children who may have cerebral palsy.
Fine motor skills and walking are are the main skills I’ll start to work on with the boys. Mwanza is not an accessible city. The build environment is full of challenges — few or no sidewalks, few ramps, uneven stairs or no stairs, and many more. Even small improvements in ambulation can make a big difference to a their quality of life. Also, many individuals here make a living through art, which requires fine motor skills. Working on those skills gives them a better chance to be successful artisans.
Over the weekend, I managed a quick getaway to Rubondo Island National Park. By quick getaway, I mean a 6 hour bus, followed by a 30 minute ferry, and 15min drive, and the reverse on the way back. So it was a long journey but a quick adventure, and an incredible experience! I added some photos below. I’m happy I had the chance to join a group and make some new friends.