Suzanne Caragianis returned from another very successful trip to Bhutan with Interplast Australia and New Zealand in October 2019. She was fortunate to be joined by Dr Nicola Massy-Westropp from the University of South Australia, who is an expert in upper limb anatomy and a great hand therapist.

Birgit Sven (Hand Therapist) attended for the third time in week 2 and then stayed on to assist the local therapists to undertake post-operative rehabilitation. Birgit completed some great splinting workshops and Nicola ran anatomy teaching to our team of 10 local therapists – several had traveled 3 days by road for the opportunity to learn! Suzanne completed tutorials on sensory re-education, sensory equipment and assessment, and wrist evaluation/ rehabilitation. There was also had some fun practical sessions on kinesio taping, dry needling, and surface anatomy of hand and shoulder.

Suzanne, along with Dr Mark Moore (Surgeon), also had the opportunity to visit with the new Minister of Health, Her Excellency, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo, who has great vision and desire to improve health care in Bhutan. She is extremely supportive of our program and the long term relationship we have formed to assist Bhutan in its capacity building, especially in the area of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and hand and upper limb rehabilitation. Suzanne also met with Madam Chime Wangdi (Secretary General) from the Tarayana Foundation and well known for their incredible charity work in Bhutan, especially with youth.

Through our 'Helping Hands in Bhutan' charity via the Southern Adelaide Health Institute Inc – Bhutan Fund that is run by Suzanne, we have been able to donate a significant amount over the past year (approximately $28,000). We have donated therapy equipment, furniture and a new computer to establish a new and standalone hand therapy clinic in Mongar (Far East). Also some basic hand therapy equipment for Gelephu (south), where a new regional trauma hospital has been established and hand therapy supplies and exercise equipment for the main hand Centre in Thimphu at JDWNR Hospital.

In addition, funds raised and donated have enabled us to help sponsor Gangtey (Physiotherapist) to attend the International Hand therapy Congress in Berlin and also Tshering Dorji (Physiotherapy Technician) to attend the Asian Pacific Congress in Melbourne in March 2020. Generous donations from friends, patients and the Richmond Lions Club has allowed us to purchase much needed burns pressure garments and scar care, which leads to far better outcomes for these patients, many of whom are young children.

Last but not least, a huge thank you to Orfit who donated valuable splinting thermoplastic and a splint bath to Bhutan.

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