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“We rarely think about how much we need our hands until they are injured, and all it takes is one injury to put you out of commission for a while. Athletes, bank clerks, masons, writers – one serious injury can put anyone out of work for months at a time,” noted Dr Alejandro Badia.

Badia was speaking at the launch of the Caribbean Hand Centre (CHC). Operating from within RENEW, a new and comprehensive physiotherapy clinic formed by a merger of STAR (Sports Therapy and Rehab) and Serpentine Road Physiotherapy Ltd, the CHC is the result of a collaboration of medical professionals to raise the level of care for hand and upper limb injuries in Trinidad and Tobago as well as the wider Caribbean.

Badia, Chief of Hand Surgery at the Baptist Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, assisted the group at RENEW with plans for their clinic, located at 16 Alcazar Street, St. Clair.

Since RENEW, and by extension the CHC, is primarily focused on physiotherapy, it may be of use to note that physiotherapy is a health care profession concerned with human function and movement. Physiotherapists use physical approaches in the alleviation of all aspects of a person’s condition.

Physiotherapy is well-known for treatment of back pain in general. However, Physiotherapists routinely treat, with excellent results, conditions such as neck pain, migraine and headache, frozen and stiff shoulders, repetitive strain injuries, knee and hip problems, arthritic pain and stiffness, disc injuries, trapped nerves, cramps, leg pain and sciatica, ankle and foot problems, whiplash injuries, tennis elbow, wrist pain, and various types of soft-tissue injury.

Also speaking at the launch was CHC’s visiting certified Hand Therapist, David Cumins. “Many of the conditions we expect to see may be caused by or related to sports injuries,” Cumins said, “However, we expect to see patients from all walks of life from young people who are injured playing sports to the elderly suffering from problems stemming from arthritis.”

According to Godfrey Araujo of RENEW, “We have been involved in the care and management of hand and upper limb injuries including some major reconstructions. One of these was Adrian Foncette, the young goal-keeper who was involved in a motor vehicle accident with a resultant severe injury to his elbow which required reconstruction. He was initially told to forget football and only after a tendon transfer done by Dr Badia in 2007 did he return to his sport. He is now on a football scholarship at a university in the US.”

Apart from the visiting Badia and Cumins, the CHC hosts talented physiotherapy professionals from two clinics – Lisa Niles of Sports Therapy and Rehab (STAR) and Kristi Maingot and Stephen Frankland of Serpentine Road Physiotherapy.

Niles became involved with sports therapy directly after graduating as a physical therapist through her work with West Indian cricketers, who are prone to shoulder, elbow, wrist and finger injuries. As a beginner therapist, she worked on the first successful limb reattachment in Trinidad and Tobago, working with the surgical team of Dr Rowland Moze and Vijay Naraynsingh to return the hand to workable capacity. Since then, she has worked on rehabilitations with Dinanath Ramnarine (right shoulder cuff repair) and Brian Lara (elbow fracture, dislocation), returning both men successfully to the field of play.

Maingot holds a doctorate in physical therapy and worked in several leadership roles in Florida before returning to Trinidad and Tobago to “contribute to the growth and the development” of our healthcare.

According to a brief from the company, “The future of the Caribbean Hand Centre will include the public health system, in which we hope to share knowledge and skills related to the diagnosis, treatment and aftercare of critical upper limb injuries. We hope to begin by sharing our improved understanding of splint-making through workshops and will facilitate improved rehabilitation protocols for individual cases through clinics that will embrace patients and their therapists in learning opportunities with our visiting hand therapist.”

“We are hoping to attract funding from the public sector to assist with these programmes and the cost of treatment to members of the public who might not otherwise benefit from these programmes.”

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