Go Global students from all allied health disciplines have been participating in clinical placements in Cambodia since 2012. Prior to this physiotherapy students had been attending one of our partner sites since 2005. From 2012 we have travelled with students from a variety of disciplines to Cambodia, with each student making an enormous contribution to the host sites. As many allied health services are just starting to emerge in Cambodia it has been amazing to see how the students incorporate their particular specialty into the lives of the Cambodian people who may not know what other allied health services can offer.
Currently we work in partnership with Veterans International Cambodia (VIC), a rehabilitation organisation supported by overseas donors and the Cambodian Ministry of Health. This site is located close to the capital of Phnom Penh and offers rehabilitation services, as well as prosthetic and orthotics manufacturing and fitting. Both adult and paediatric clients are seen at this site which consists of a large workshop for the production of prostheses, orthoses, crutches and wheelchairs and a large physiotherapy treatment centre. The treatment centre provides gait training for amputees with new prosthesis, and physical therapy for persons with disabilities. Common presentations include adults and children with polio, cerebral palsy, club foot, club hand, torticollis, large bone injuries via trauma, brain injuries, spinal cord damage, cerebral vascular accidents. There is an emphasis on physiotherapy in this unit, but the host site has been very open to students from other allied health specialties contributing in the past three years, including occupational therapy and speech therapy with some amazing results for the clients. Students may also be involved in presenting education sessions and workshops.
Our second partner site is located in Battambang, around 330 km North West of Phnom Penh at the World Mate Emergency Hospital. This 110 bed trauma and emergency hospital is located in the middle of a region that continues to be heavily affected by landmines. It was built in 1998 to provide free trauma and surgical care to victims of war and poverty and is primarily funded by external donors. The hospital has a fully operational emergency department, surgery, post-operative wards, ICU, radiology and pharmacy, and physiotherapy departments. Students have the opportunity to interact with clients whose main presentations include large bone fractures (upper and lower limbs), amputations, brain injury, rehabilitation needs. Students may also be involved in presenting education sessions and workshops. Additionally all students participate in a cultural orientation session on arrival which includes sightseeing tours of the local area.
“Cambodia is a country of beautiful smiles and gentle hearts. My Go Global placement to Cambodia has challenged me personally and professionally, however overcoming these challenges and seeing the small but positive difference you can make on someone's life has left a lasting impact on me. The experience has changed the way I think and see the world and will most definitely impact on the way I practice as an occupational therapist in the years to come.”