Persons With Disabilities in Vietnam Gain Greater Mobility

Hao with his new skateboard, which helps him move around his house instead of crawling.
Nguyen Minh Hao with his new skateboard, which helps him move around his house instead of crawling.
VNAH
Physical therapy, assistive devices advance rehabilitation
“I am very happy with the support. I wish I can work and help my mother in the future.”

September 2016—Living with severe cerebral palsy made it difficult for Nguyen Minh Hao, 31, to take care of his daily needs. Getting out of bed and personal hygiene were impossible without his mother’s help. As they both grew older, it become more challenging for his mother, his only caregiver, to get Hao in and out of bed for daily activities. He spent most of his time lying in bed, unable to do to anything.

In May 2016, USAID’s Disability Rights, Enforcement, Coordination and Therapies (DIRECT) project, in partnership with the Ho Chi Minh University of Medicine and Pharmacy, the Butterfly Basket Foundation and local health agencies, provided a team of rehabilitation professionals and physical therapy students to treat Hao.

The students spent almost three weeks providing Hao with physical therapy as well as making and fitting nine assistive devices for him, using locally available materials. Exercise strings allow him to strengthen his arms while lying in bed. A sitting-skateboard helps him move around the house on his own.

Hao now sits on the skateboard and moves from the back to the front of the house in 15 minutes, while, in the past, it took him about three hours to crawl the same distance.

“One day, I came home and did not see him,” said Hao’s mother. “I looked around, then I realized that he was in the front of the house. Hao used the skateboard to move himself to the front of the house. That's never happened before.”

Hao now wants to learn a vocational skill so he can work and support his mother. “I am very happy with the support. I wish I can work and help my mother in the future,” said Hao.

The partnership has brought together 71 students and rehabilitation practitioners to provide therapy services to 200 beneficiaries like Hao and technical training for 18 local health workers in Vietnam’s Tay Ninh province, where no rehabilitation services were previously available.

The DIRECT project, which runs from 2015 to 2020, is establishing and equipping rehabilitation units in all districts of Tay Ninh, and training future rehabilitation practitioners to meet provincial needs. The project is designed to provide direct assistance to over 2,000 persons with disabilities in the province.

During its duration, the project, which also works in Binh Phuoc province, aims to provide direct assistance to a total of 4,000 persons with disabilities and training to 5,400 service providers and caregivers in the two provinces.

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Video: Vietnamese with disabilities get vocational training with USAID support

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Last updated: November 27, 2017

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