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UHWI glad to collaborate for Gleaner 5K

Published:Friday | September 5, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Grace Stephenson, deputy director of physiotherapy services at the University Hospital of the West Indies, noted the collaboration with the Gleaner 180th Anniversary 5k Run will not only raise funds for the department, but awareness of the work being done there.-Gladstone Taylor/Photographer

As The Gleaner tries to enrich minds, it attempts to help those who heal broken bodies.

Part proceeds of The Gleaner's 180th Anniversary 5K Run, scheduled for Saturday, September 13, will go to the Physiotherapy Department of the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI).

Grace Stephenson, deputy director of physiotherapy services at the hospital, noted the department offers both inpatient and outpatient services. Its work encompasses a wide cross-section of ailments and not just sports-related injuries.

"We treat pulmonary conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, pneumonia," she said. "We treat neurological conditions like stroke, paraplegia, Down's syndrome; and we treat burns and conditions that are associated with lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and hypertension."

Dependent on the specific circumstances, one therapist may see up to 10 patients daily.

Stephenson explained that for the past three years, the department has hosted its own 5K walk/run on the combined Ring Road of the UHWI and the University of the West Indies, Mona campus. They had arranged one for September 13, the same date as the Gleaner walk/run this year.

"So we decided to collaborate and put the two of them together," she said. "It is good because we are the part-beneficiary and we'll be getting part proceeds, up to 1,000 entrants." But for her and the staff, it's more than the funds raised; the publicity will be even more invaluable.

"The collaboration with The Gleaner also gives us the opportunity to broadcast physiotherapy, to spread it so that everybody can know about it," she said.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE

While many people are not aware of their work, perhaps the biggest challenge facing the department, according to Stephenson, is a lack of equipment.

"We currently have a department that is under construction, so we're going to need equipment to outfit that department," she said.

As the need for physiotherapy increases, the department looks to expand its services in developing, maintaining and restoring a person's maximum movement and functionality.

Alfred Francis of Running Events Jamaica will not only be helping to organise the 5K, he is a living testimony of the department's work. In 2013, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. He was totally paralysed. He encouraged persons to not only support the run, but to donate in kind as well.

"There are persons who probably have equipment at their home like a nice treadmill that they're not using, like some dumbells - things like that, that persons probably don't know what to do with them," he said. Francis noted that his recovery was aided not just by using machines like a treadmill but also simpler equipment like stretch bands.

"So persons who … have these equipment, you can donate them."

Other equipment being sought include cycle ergometry (stationary bicycle), trampoline, and strength-training machines.