In November 2016, Interplast Australia and New Zealand combined an intensive program of hand surgery, therapy and education sessions in Bhutan.

We had a wonderful team including; Dr. Philip Griffin (Team Leader and Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon), Dr. Mark Moore (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon), Dr. Steve Kinnear (Anaesthetist), Karen Burford (Occupational Therapist), Vanessa Dittmar (Theatre Nurse), Helen Fuss (Registered Nurse) and Darcy O'Neil (Hand Therapist).

We saw more than 100 patients in our hand therapy clinic in Thimphu, the Capital and the conditions seen were complex and diverse. There were also a lot of adults with tendon and nerve injuries, wrist fractures and some amputations from wild animal attacks (bears and boars). A large number of children presented with fractures, burns and a range of different congenital anomalies. The therapy team completed all the rehabilitation following the complex reconstructive hand surgery cases.

During the Interplast visit, Tshering Dorji (resident Physio Technician) and 12 other physiotherapists and physiotherapy technicians from regional areas across Bhutan attended an education and mentoring program. This occurred via observation, mentoring, supervised practice and formal and informal education over 15 days. Karen and Helen provided formal lectures at Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan on oedema, burns management and skin graft management.

Darcy provided formal lectures on upper limb management post stroke and management of elbow conditions. Karen and Darcy provided Informal training in the clinic on neural assessment and mobilisation techniques, ROM and strength assessment and splinting patterns. Informal teaching and hands on demonstration allowed trainees to participate in supervised wound care, assessment, and treatment.

Our fund raising via Southern Adelaide Health Institute Inc – Bhutan Fund allowed us to provide an enormous amount of greatly needed therapy equipment and splints, that is not available in Bhutan. We were also able to provide the Bhutanese School for the Hearing Impaired with a digital camera and much needed supplies.

This year we were able to meet the board of The Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital including Dr Lhab Dorji (Director), Dr Sonam Dorji (Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon) and Dr Gosar Pemba (Medical Superintendant). We had a great dinner with the Health Secretory from the Ministry of Health. They were very supportive of our work and grateful for our help and teaching.

Dr. Griffin, Dr. Kinnear and Darcy all took a strong interest in traditional bamboo archery, which is the national sport. During the trip the three purchased traditional Bamboo bows and plan sharing traditional Bhutanese culture with family and friends at home.

Thank you to all of you. Your donations to our Bhutan Fund allow us to continue 'Helping Hands in Bhutan'.

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