Hand surgery and therapy program helps PNG mum regain her independence - Interplast

Hand surgery and therapy program helps PNG mum regain her independence

Jane was 26 years old when her right hand was severed above the elbow during an attack with a bush knife. A deep laceration on her left arm forced her fingers into a clawed position and unable to be extended.

Without the use of her remaining hand, Jane had lost her ability to care for herself. Her son was three years old at the time and her husband had left them years earlier.

Before the attack, Jane was supporting her son and training to become a mechanic. After the trauma, she relied heavily on her ageing parents and younger siblings to help her and her son.

As the eldest child, it is important to Jane to be able help her parents, her siblings and her own son. She desperately wants to regain her independence.

Jane travelled for six hours to reach Modilon General Hospital in Madang, Papua New Guinea, for hand surgery. Interplast volunteers, Dr Peter Maloney and Kay Suter, worked alongside the local surgical team to release Jane’s fingers on her remaining hand.

Jane also undertook intensive physiotherapy by Interplast volunteer and hand therapy specialist, Penny McMahon. Penny taught Jane how to regain the use of her left fingers and thumb, and how to use her right elbow flexion (the bend in the elbow) to hold small items.

A year later, Jane has worked hard to build upon the therapy she received from Penny and has since taught herself how to write, use a knife, brush her teeth and comb her hair with her left hand. Jane can also carry a bucket with the stump of her right arm.

Penny said Jane travelled to Modilon General Hospital for this year’s follow up clinic in a small bus that was hampered by a mudslide.

“All the passengers had to get out and pull the bus through with chains and ropes,” she said.

“Jane was determined not to miss the Interplast team, because she wanted to show us what she could do.”

Interplast has delivered hand surgery and hand therapy training in Madang on an annual basis for nine years, thanks to its volunteers and funding from the Brian Bell Group, Cabrini Health and Rotary clubs and districts.

With further funding, Interplast can continue to deliver this life-changing program. Donate today and you can help more people like Jane to regain their independence.

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