Helping children walk

RC Coimbatore Meridian president Dr Sathishkumar at a ward where a baby is being treated for deformity.
RC Coimbatore Meridian president Dr Sathishkumar at a ward where a baby is being treated for deformity.

What happens when a team of orthopaedic surgeons and physiotherapists get together? A slew of corrective surgeries that will put little children back on their feet giving them a better quality of life. This was made possible by surgeons Abdul Salaam and Karthikeyan, and physiotherapists Sathishkumar, Kartheeswaran and Madhanagopal — all members of a one-year-old club, RC Coimbatore Meridian, RID 3201 — coming together.

“Basically we are from various other Rotary clubs having come together to form this club and often we used to sponsor corrective surgeries on request from various people. So when we formed this club last March we were sure of our focus area,” says Dr Sathishkumar, club president.

The club is working on a global grant project with RC Colombo Greater, RID 3220, Sri Lanka, and TRF to enable physically-challenged children walk following surgery and physiotherapy. The club had applied for a global grant last year under the leadership of its charter president ­Thamilselvan and TRF chair ­Srinivasan for facilitating the corrective surgeries. Now with a GG sanction of $36,000 and the club’s contribution of $10,600, it aims to sponsor surgeries for 75–100 children a year in and around the city.

“Normally hospitalisation, surgery, assistive devices and therapy would cost ₹60,000–80,000 which is unaffordable for the underprivileged. But one of our club members Dr Abdul Salaam who owns the One Care Hospitals in Coimbatore has magnanimously volunteered to perform the surgery free for the most needy,” he says. The club will take care of the basic costs and post-operative expenses “which works out to at least ₹35,000 a surgery.”

The beneficiaries are identified through screening camps organised in various parts of the city with the support of the Differently-abled ­Welfare Association. Around 70 children have been shortlisted from two camps and 10 surgeries have been performed so far.

Patients from 1–18 years are treated for deformities such as club foot, bow legs and curved foot. “If corrected at an early age they can walk as normally as possible. Unfortunately most of the villagers are unaware of the corrective treatment, often saying it is the curse of god. Nor do they have the means to undergo such treatment,” he says, adding that mild to moderate physical deformity can be corrected through physiotherapy and with the help of splints but severe deformities call for correction in the soft tissue such as muscles and tendons, and sometimes bones.

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