PESHAWAR: The physiotherapists have called upon parents to bring their children infected with poliovirus for treatment and rehabilitation through exercises and other interventions to enable them to lead normal lives.

“Children require physical therapy for preventing wastage of muscles, deformity, contractures and shortening of limbs as we have noticed that kids respond quickly to the treatment in initial years of their infections,” Dr Mahboobur Rehman, a former head of physiotherapy department at Hayatabad Medical Complex, told participants of a free medical camp at Habib Physiotherapy Complex Hayatabad on Sunday.

He said that the prevalent misconception in people’s mind that polio-hit children would stay handicapped forever should be removed because rehabilitation was possible through orthotic treatment and exercises and in few cases operating upon them for contractures if they didn’t visit doctors timely.

The camp, held to mark World Physiotherapy Day, was visited by parents along with polio-infected children, mostly from southern and tribal districts where polio virus was in circulation.

“We have enlisted about 100 children for our monthly free camps. We give advice on home-based exercises and specially-designed tools, such as shoes and balls etc in line with treatment chart certified by the Post-Polio Health International Organisation for patients,” said Dr Mahboob.

He said that children were also referred to the physiotherapy centres established by the government in 25 district headquarters hospitals. With the rapid growth of physiotherapy in the province, parents could seek free assistance at DHQs for fast-track rehabilitation of the children, he said.

“Pakistan has the services of 25,000 doctors of physiotherapy and 165 institutions, including 26 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that produce 1,000 graduates every year. Expansion of physical therapy services can be used to reduce quantum of disabilities in the country,” said Mahboob.

He said that they were providing services to victims of post-polio paralysis and had helped to rehabilitate scores of children, who were then either in schools or were walking without support. “The crippled children happen to be up to five years, therefore, the responsibility rest with the parents to protect them through non-pharmaceutical interventions to improve quality of their lives,” he added.

Dr Daud Afridi said on the occasion that polio affected the spinal cord and as a result the whole body motor function was affected. “If it involves chest muscles then the child may die apart from affecting upper and lower limbs, which cause paralysis,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 9th, 2019