The physical side of working with children with disabilities

Siyakwazi have been fortunate enough to receive support from Grace Hughes Physiotherapy since 2017. Physiotherapy is a critical component of the support provided to the children with disabilities that we work with. Physio services at the local clinic of KwaNzimakwe are intermittent and are only available maximum once a month per child. Since March 2018, all physiotherapy services from the local clinic have been cancelled making it extremely difficult for parents to access. Because of the scarcity of professional support, parent participation in the therapy process is so important.

In this case Grace has provided termly support to parents who our team have identified through our three programmes, in many cases children in our Non-Centre Based programmes are the ones requiring intensive physiotherapy as they have the most severe needs.

Grace’s sessions are more than just spending time with the child, but also about capacity building the Siyasizas and the parents of the child to ensure that there are daily and weekly therapy programmes performed with the child. An official therapy programme document is created for each child so that progress and goals can be checked. So far there have been about 18 children who have partaken in Grace’s therapy sessions. Successes have included improved mobility, children being able to sit or stand on their own and improved fine and gross motor coordination. Most important has been the improved participation from parents who have realised the seriousness of their roles in the child’s therapy success.

Of the children with disabilities Siyakwazi works with, children with cerebral palsy are often identified as having severe mobility barriers. Parents can be unaware of the cause of their child’s neurologically controlled muscular challenges and lack the skills and confidence to know how to improve their mobility. At the beginning of 2018, Grace put forward a suggestion for a standing frame which would support children with mobility challenges. As the name suggests the standing frame is simply a wooden frame designed to support children who are unable to stand unassisted. The benefits of this include strengthening of standing muscles in legs, different positioning, a work area to support school readiness and play, as well as provide a tool to support a child for standing independently.

The frame was designed, and a local supplier was able to create at a very cost-effective price. Thanks to Mr. Friedman at Friedman and Associates, we were able to have our first frame built and delivered to Thandolabantwana ECD Centre, where two of the children there will be able to benefit from it. 

There is a great need for such frames as well as ongoing mentorship of skills, including supportive therapy programmes. This will ensure that many of the children who we work with will benefit and the purpose of the standing frame will be more effective. To donate towards a standing frame, mentoring support and a therapy programme click here.