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Healing hands help patients lead active life | Updated: 2021-01-25 09:47
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A patient (third from right) presents a calligraphy work "rehabilitation treatment wakes up people’s potential to recover" as a gift to chief physical therapist Guo Jingwei (second from right) and his team, 2018. [Photo provided to]

"Rehabilitation can be needed at some point in anyone's lives after injury or surgery. Those infected by COVID-19 also need such medical treatment," Guo Jingwei, chief physical therapist of the Rehabilitation Medicine Department of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing, told China Daily Website on Jan 14.

At 8:00 am, Guo walks in the outpatient department, a large gym-like hall at the hospital, gently greeting a senior citizen lying on a bed.

After thoroughly checking with the patient about her situation, the therapist starts guiding the woman to do some exercises.

This is Guo's daily routine in the past two decades since he graduated from the Shanghai Sports University in 1996.

"Even now, many doctors and nurses misinterpret the rehabilitation treatment," said Guo, "considering it as, say, massage, acupuncture or physical treatment."

"In fact, rehabilitation is a larger field. It focuses on optimizing people's functioning and reducing disabilities through designed interventions. We aim to give patients a comparatively normal life, a life that they can enjoy the basic pleasures as a human. "

To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always

The World Health Organization defines rehabilitation as helping "a child, adult or older person to be as independent as possible in everyday activities" and enabling them to participate in education, recreation, work and "meaningful life roles such as taking care of family".

According to Guo, rehabilitation can help patients recover in a more efficient way after surgeries.

"With the intervention of rehabilitation, the chance for a patient who receives organ transplantation to survive is higher. It also works on many other operations," said the therapist.

"At present, in our hospital, it only needs 24 hours for a patient to leave bed after a rectal surgery with the help of rehabilitation. In the past, it took many days."

However, it is commonly believed that a successful surgery is the end of complete cure. The process to restart living like healthy people is often left to the patients themselves, as many still have no idea about rehabilitation and overlook the necessity of such medical treatment.

In 2018, Guo and his team received a 60-something woman patient who just had an internal fixation in one arm.

As an old Chinese saying goes, "one hundred days needed to recovery from broken bones", the senior citizen thought her wounded part would heal after resting for some months.

She tried to follow the advice from doctors to do some exercise to accelerate the recovery but didn't find a correct way.

"And it still hurt badly when the patient moved her shoulder and arm after two months' rest," Guo said, "then she turned to us."

The rehabilitation department designed a recovery plan for the patient and guided her to do necessary exercises step by step according to her body situation.

"Overprotection of wounded part and lack of exercises after surgeries may cause new problems, such as joints stiffness and muscle wasting," said the physical therapist.

During the rehab treatment, the patient was also taught how to put on clothes and do other things in daily life to reduce the pain in her arm and shoulder, which was a part of occupational therapy of rehabilitation. Continuous psychological counseling was given as well to enhance the patient's confidence.

After almost three month's treatment, the patient eventually recovered and began leading a normal life as before.

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