Doctors are being asked to maintain long-term contact with Sichuan earthquake survivors and work out physical and psychological rehabilitation plans for them, experts said at a conference on quake victim rehabilitation over the weekend.
Rehabilitation plans should also include training sessions to help survivors adapt to their living conditions once back home. To achieve this, Sichuan hospitals are being asked to hasten training of "rehabilitators," who would work with patients and help them return a normal life.
More than 260 experts from Shanghai and Hong Kong participated in the conference to discuss ways to rehabilitate those who suffered through but survived the May 12 quake. Experts suggested that amputation patients be fitted with artificial limbs as soon as possible, while those with fractures be trained to care for themselves.
Some 30 people injured in the earthquake are undergoing therapy at the Shanghai Sunshine Rehabilitation Center in Songjiang District. They are among the 400-odd patients transferred to Shanghai for care. Many of them suffer severe fractures, amputation, paralysis and brain trauma.
"Rehabilitation is a long and tough period of recovery with slow results. But this is an extremely important period for earthquake survivors," said Dr Hu Yongshan, director of Huashan Hospital's department of rehabilitation medicine.
"Most survivors need mental and physical rehabilitation. We want local hospitals and doctors to treat these patients for a long time and visit them at their hometown, which has a different set of conditions than Shanghai. Doctors can give them suggestions on self-care and train them to adapt to their environment."
Some participants also suggested that patients who undergo rehabilitation in Shanghai must attend follow-up sessions after they get back to Sichuan.
Since smaller cities lack rehabilitators, experts suggested the Sichuan health authorities raise awareness on the issue and train more people for trauma care.
(Shanghai Daily August 26, 2008)