Between September 17 and 21, 2018, Sunshine Foundation organized in Taipei the third training for burn therapists from Latin America on the topic of rehabilitation of the burned hand. This training is part of the ongoing “Training Program for Latin America Burn Rehabilitation Professionals” initiated in 2011 in collaboration with Asociación Pro-Niños Quemados de Nicaragua (APROQUEN) that has already trained over 20 burn rehabilitation specialists from 9 countries and benefited over 10,000 burned children.
Sharing expertise, building capacities
Starting in 2011, Sunshine Foundation has worked with APROQUEN to organize two series of burn rehabilitation training for burn professionals from Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Peru and Mexico.
From 2011 to 2014, the first series of training focused on imparting pressure garment fabrication skills to five therapists and five seamstresses from Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. From 2016 to 2018, the second series of training focused on the rehabilitation of the burned hand and has brought together ten therapists from Nicaragua, Panama, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia, Peru and Mexico.
Sunshine’s trainings are not just about specific techniques, but they also emphasize building a strong knowledge base, as well as honing problem analysis and clinical reasoning skills, so that therapists are equipped to address the various problems they might encounter in their clinical practice. And because building and strengthening skills takes time, trainings are generally focused on one specific topic that is explored over a long period of time, so that participants have time to absorb knowledge and implement in their work what they have learned.
Changes brought by the trainings
Grazia who is the Rehabilitation Director of CRISAQ in Honduras explains how the pressure garment training changed their practice: “The content of that training was really comprehensive. It was a difficult training, but now we see the impact because we’ve become the best pressure garment producer in Honduras. The training not only focused on building basic knowledge, but it also improved the work efficiency of our staff and also enhanced their self-confidence. Because our pressure garments are now more comfortable, our patients are more willing to wear them and we can achieve greater progress in controlling scars.” Amparo, who is a physical therapist in a burn clinic in Guatemala, says that after taking part in the hand rehabilitation training, she’s better able to correctly and rapidly identify problems, and thus prepare a more accurate intervention plan. Amparo also adds: “Following this training, we’ve also been able to develop our own evaluation tool to assess burned hands.”
Creating a community of learning so that therapists learn and grow together
Because of resource limitation, these therapists often work alone and must deal with a wide variety of problems by themselves. Amparo says: “We’ve been lucky to have this opportunity to take part in these trainings of such high academic standards. We feel even more motivated to pursue excellence in our work and grow professionally. But most importantly, we’ve been lucky to meet so many peers who are all open to sharing their experience in order improve the quality of burn rehabilitation.” Through these trainings, we’ve been able to create a community of learning where therapists can share and learn from one another. Because the 2018 training was held in Taiwan, participants also had the opportunity to visit Sunshine and gain a more in-depth understanding of our work. Yinna, an occupational therapists from Colombia, says: “Now I have a better understanding of Sunshine Foundation. Even though the rehabilitation center’s space is small, it is well designed and organized to achieve the maximum impact. The key point is not how many equipment you have, it’s the quality of care that therapists provide. What I’ve seen at Sunshine is an attention to providing comprehensive, individualized care through a devoted and caring multidisciplinary team.”