Honduras: Day Five

Source: Blog Post

The sun was shining this morning in Siguatepeque – a beautiful day for another’s day work. 

 

One of the wonderful additions to this year’s mission trip is Meagan Pehnke, an occupational therapist (OT) from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).  After our first mission trip to Siguatepeque last year, we recognized that we needed to adapt plans for post-operative care for children with cerebral palsy that would typically include intensive therapy.  We decided an OT would be a beneficial addition to our team.


 


Our resourceful OT brought a variety of donated splinting materials, an electric skillet to use as a splint pan and post-operative exercise handouts that were translated to Spanish for families to take home.

 

On screening day, we found that cerebral palsy was again a common presenting condition.  Many of these patients had never received therapy, and the noted significant limitations with hand function during daily activities.


 


One (adorable) three-year-old girl with spastic hemiplegia that we screened on Saturday was not a surgical candidate.  She had fairly good movement of her affected hand and limb, but her parents were concerned that she avoided using it throughout the day. We felt that she had a lot of potential for improving function, and we recommended working with our OT.

 

Meagan fabricated two custom orthoplast splints--one for nighttime to stretch her extrinsic wrist and fingers flexors and another for daytime to support her wrist in extension maximizing functional grasp and her ability to hold objects at home and school.  Meagan also reviewed recommendations for upper extremity strengthening and encouraged her parents to help her practice using her right hand throughout the day.  Over the course of the week, we also had three patients with spastic hemiplegia that underwent surgical reconstruction (tendon lengthenings and transfers, first webspace deepening, etc.).  Each of these patients was fit with custom orthoplast splints for use during the day and overnight after cast removal.


 

 


In addition to the services provided for patients with spastic hemiplegia, our traumatic and congenital cases also benefitted from OT services to maximize outcomes from surgery. We were able to provide custom orthoplast splints (often made intra-operatively with a little creativity!) as well as recommendations for exercises for the patients to complete post-operatively.


 


With the addition of occupational therapy to our team this year, we were able to provide higher quality post-operative patient care as well as provide care to a variety of non-surgical patients that we were previously unable to help.  The team is committed to delivering the best hand and upper extremity care possible, and offering the expertise of a skilled occupational therapist has brought us closer to achieving this goal.


 


“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” -Winston Churchill