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Curtin occupational therapy student travels to Cambodia

Posted: 13 February 2014

A Masters of Occupational Therapy student recently visited Cambodia as part of Curtin University’s Go Global program.

Ms Sarah Lindsay spent four weeks in the country as part of an interprofessional practice placement, which she shared with seven other students.

Ms Lindsay said that upon arriving the team were greeted by a range of stark contrasts.

“There were so many disparities experienced in the country, from the luxury cars and the riches of the royal place, to the historical massacres in the Killing Fields and the S.21 torture museum,” Ms Lindsay said.

During the visit, Ms Lindsay spent three weeks working in a physical rehabilitation centre just outside of the country’s capital city of Phnom Penh. She worked alongside volunteers from many countries and with the Khmer staff of the centre.

Ms Lindsay said the team of students worked with a variety of clients including those with developmental conditions and accident related injuries.

“The types of occupational interventions provided by the students included parental education on positioning children to increase their engagement in play activities, providing techniques to clients of varied ages to increase independence in self-care occupations, and encouraging the staff to use play in their treatment sessions,” Ms Lindsay said.

“We were faced with many challenges each day including a significant language and cultural barrier.

“A highlight of the trip was when two of the students created a universal cuff that held cutlery for an 18-year-old male who, as a result of a workplace injury, had a double below the elbow amputation.

“This enabled him to feed himself for the first time in six months whilst he waited for his prosthetic to be made.

“As challenging as our time away was, the personal and professional growth experienced by each member of the team was profound.

“It was a chance to gain perspective on our lives in Australia; particularly in regards to the things we take for granted such as education, healthcare and the emphasis on consumerist products.

“As a student it provided the opportunity to be more self reliant when seeking answers and to be confident enough to ‘have a go’. The memories and relationships forged during our time away are ones that will stay with us for many more years to come.”