Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Sweat, Tears And Physio Placements in Palampur, India.

PROJECT: Physiotherapy, University of South Australia
WRITTEN BY: Suzannah Michell

The first week in India has come and gone already! Like the heat in Delhi, we just can't believe it. With 11 students and 1 professor, Julie, on our trip and several hours in a plane and car, we finally reached the halfway-student house in Delhi at 9pm to rest and recuperate.

On the second day, we stumbled into the 44 degrees and tried to scrape our jaws off the ground at the Taj Mahal's Royal Gate entrance. There were tears, there was sweat. There was a lot of sweat. Okay, the tears may have been sweat, we're not really sure. What we are sure of is this - the Taj Mahal is one of the most beautiful buildings in the world. Period.

We then embarked on our "8 hour" bus trip from Delhi to Palampur. And by 8 hours, we really mean 13. Which was both a beautiful painting of India's vast and contrasting scenery and a terrifying, thrilling submersion into Indian culture.

It must be noted, just like a horror film, it was the pretty blonde who was most willing to try new things who was struck down first. By food poisoning. But what a comeback she had! And we were back on the road! Until we got a flat tyre.

Things we learnt in India this week:

- Road rules are more of a guide and an actual rule in India.
- The car horn can also double as an indicator. Or to tell someone you're coming around a blind corner. Or to say “hello”. Or “goodbye”. Or “I'm passing you”. Or "Stop, I'm cutting you off". Or "Get out of my way". Or "I'm braking now".
- One hour can mean one hour in Indian time. But sometimes it means an hour and a half. Or two hours!
- The food may look the same as yesterday, but may taste drastically different. But it's always devastatingly delicious and you'll want to lick your plate.
- Cricket transcends all languages. But Viv finds talking to local Indian children in an Indian accent a necessity of communication.
- Do not stand near Tobi when he bats
- You will need to buy the local Indian children a new ball if you hit it over the river.
- "Internet" doesn't necessarily mean you'll be able to access the World Wide Web. Although, if standing on one leg and facing due east, there is a sweet spot on the roof for 2G data downloads.
- Just because the currency is in thousands, doesn't mean you are spending very much.
- A 4 person badminton kit can be acquired for $4 AUD at the Palampur market.
- Anything can be acquired at the Palampur market.
- The roof isn't necessarily the best place to play badminton. But it has the best views and you're out if you hit too close to the edge. And you're definitely out if you fall off the edge...
- When playing badminton, innuendo and puns are a must.
- Common toilet etiquette is that you do not flush the toilet paper down the toilet.
- Palampur will always have a more beautiful view than you do. They have the Himalayas. You just can't compete! Sorry.
- Tobi hates geese.
- If you're blonde, you're a celebrity. People will want photos with you and their children and their cousins and their distant relatives too. Brunettes just don't cut it.
- Rooftop yoga is the best, regardless of hamstring length.
- Livestock can live on a farm, but it's much more likely that they will sleep on the road.

Golden quotes for the week:
- "I'm not blonde enough, though!" Nadia
- "I'm at a point where I just can't trust my farts, you know?" Tobi

But, okay, placement!

As a group of 11 we are split across 4 different placement sites - physiotherapy hospitals and clinics, and home visits.

Physiotherapy in India is very different from both Australian physiotherapy and what we expected. They use a lot of electrical therapy tools, such as ultrasound, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation, short and long wave diathermy. Parents: Google them. And they use much less conservative prescriptions of the electrical stimulation (e-stimm) than we would. There have been studies about the therapeutic effect of e-stimm, and they all point to "more is better" but in Australia, we shy away from using such parameters because of the increased risk of injury with them. It has been very interesting to see the way they use these machines.

In this first week of clinic we've done a lot observation. We've tried to gauge our patients' health literacy, conditions and treatment so far through Pictionary and stunted English-Hindi. Or else had Physios translate for us. Or if we were especially lucky, we had patients who spoke full English.

The patients are warm and welcoming - there have been offers to stay at their houses, eat their food and constant offers of (crazy-delicious) tea on home visits. I believe one student has already been proposed to!

The home visits are to 3 paraplegic men in the nearby towns who couldn't otherwise afford regular Physio at home. They all live in beautiful parts of Palampur. At first, they found our Physio-rehab strange and unfamiliar. However they have, thus far, been incredibly enthusiastic, willing to engage and to try things in a different way.

The other clinics are roughly the same, and are as the description above. Some extra details though:
- One centre is a naturopathy-yoga-hospital-Physio clinic, which is highly esteemed in the area.
- One of the physiotherapy clinics is owned by one of the main organizers of our trip, Amit who is one of the most highly revered Physios in the state.
- The physiotherapy hospital has a much more neurological-rehab focus than the others, but deals with musculoskeletal conditions as well.

This weekend we plan to visit tea plantations and jump off cliffs. That is, we are going paragliding!

From the group: sorry about any lack of communication, our Internet and phone coverage has been in and out. We all received Indian SIMs the other day and hope to be in touch with families more regularly in the coming days!

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