Case Study - Adam Walsh
Earlier this year, one of our Physiotherapists swapped the
state-of-the-art surroundings of the Therapies and Dietetics
department at Royal Manchester Children's Hospital for a medical
centre in Uganda. Adam Walsh, who has worked for the organisation
for just over a year heard that our Chairman Peter Mount was
looking for a volunteer from the Physiotherapy department at RMCH
to go and work with MedCare, a charity organisation in
After a number of
meetings with the charity and liaison with hospital staff, our
charity fund kindly agreed to supplement the costs of this trip and
Adam flew out to Entebee, Uganda in September. He was one in a team
of six, consisting of a retired GP (now Chairman of MedCare), two
current GPs, an Orthopaedic Registrar and an Engineer. They worked
out of a small, but rapidly expanding medical centre in the
Kamutuza district, around 20 minutes North of Masaka.
Adam said: "The therapy department itself was far from what
we're used to at RMCH and consisted of a make-shift building
constructed between two shipping containers. Here we were inundated
by a vast number of children presenting with a wide range of
complex problems which we worked to the best of our ability to
treat and rehabilitate."
The team did this in conjunction with the resident staff and
implemented care pathways for these children to be ongoing with the
therapist, nurses and carers after they left. They also took the
opportunity to deliver practical training and seminars on
dermatological conditions, postural management, interpretation of
X-rays, clinical reasoning and differential diagnosis.
Adam added: "By the end of the week we were all exhausted but
able to reflect on what had been a busy, productive and rewarding
week. The trip presented me with a new challenge but great
experience, I would definitely encourage others to pursue volunteer
work if they have an interest and I look forward to doing something
like this again in the future."
The team stayed in a local 'hotel' organised
by the volunteer group. Although Adam thought it was a good
standard some members of the team were surprised when there
was no electricity and that they had to shower with cold water and
Adam found the main challenges were around the lack
of equipment available, both for medical diagnostics and for
treatments but said: "It's amazing how far you can get with a few
simple pieces of kit and a little imagination, improvisation and
Although there were many highlights, Adam's stand out memory
would probably be after assessing a young boy called Raheem with
complex medical needs.
He said: "This young man was carried into our room and had an
un-diagnosed neuro-muscular and condition with a two day birth
history. He had multiple musculo-skeletal abnormalities
including bi-lateral talonavicular dislocation and bi-lareral
hip dysplasia. He also had a horrific kyphoscoliosis,
increased tone globally within all four limbs and muscle
contractures at both hands and elbows.
"After assessing this severely disabled young man
the orthopaedic registrar and we were discussing how he
was likely to have a poor prognosis and un-likely to ambulate,
then his mother picked him up and he walked (with her assistance)
over to us. It just re-affirmed to me the importance of
determination within rehabilitation and how despite
great obstacles meaningful gains could still be achieved."
Adam's interest in
working abroad was fuelled by a previous trip where volunteered as
a Physiotherapist in Nepal for 10 weeks. During his time there
he worked in the national spinal injury unit and also at a
local Duchene's muscular dystrophy centre.
He said: "As far as advice to others who'd consider working
abroad I'd say go for it. Its a fantastic opportunity to learn
about other cultures and to provide insight into their own clinical
practice. It gives you a greater appreciation for the first world
facilities we have and take for granted at our disposal. If
its something you feel strongly about then do it, you'll only
regret it if you don't take the chance."