Irene Zhang

Teaching Therapists at an Anhui Welfare Center

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This summer, Physical Therapist ZiLi Wang and Occupational Therapist Irene Zhang, both of LIH Olivia’s Place Shanghai, conducted their third visit to an orphanage in Anhui province, following up on their previous teaching while introducing new assessment tools and techniques.

Zili Wang, PT, works with a child at the welfare center.

Zili Wang, PT, works with a child at the welfare center.

The welfare center, the YingShang County Social Children Welfare House, was initially started in 1994 under another name – the Wang Family Foster Home – and has grown from a small labor of love to one of the biggest welfare centers in the province, having cared for over 500 disabled orphans over its 22-year history. It had moved locations multiple times before settling into its current location in YingShang County.

Mr. Wang and Ms. Zhang taught therapists how to assess and treat the children, but also how to handle them with minimal risk of injury to the therapists themselves. This included techniques on manual handling favoring the usage of the legs over the back, and pivoting techniques to move heavier children. How to handle behavior was also an important topic this visit, including a detailed lecture on how to motivate children and how to properly use rewards and praise to encourage certain behaviors.

We look forward to the next chance to share our knowledge with the hard working therapists in Anhui!

Irene Zhang, OT, teaching welfare center therapists.

Irene Zhang, OT, teaching welfare center therapists.

OT and PT Team Up for Kids in Anhui

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In April 2015, two therapists from Olivia’s Place, Irene Zhang (Occupational Therapist) and ZiLi Wang (Physical Therapist) spent 4 days at a welfare institute in Fuyang, Anhui, working to train the staff on various rehabilitation techniques and theories. The center was earlier visited by another member of Olivia’s Place staff, Jasmine Jia (Occupational Therapist), in October last year; this initial visit introduced the local staff to Western screening and treatment techniques and served as an important foundation to the training for this second visit.

The welfare institute is home to more than 150 children, many of whom have diagnoses requiring the attention of rehabilitation professionals. Conditions of children being treated included cerebral palsy, autism, Down Syndrome, and children with sensory needs.

Our therapists gave training on positioning and posture management techniques, adaptive equipment needs as well as specific hands-on techniques such as using upper and fine motor assessment tools and core strengthenin

ZiLi Wang, Physical Therapist, demonstrates positioning at a welfare institute.

ZiLi Wang, Physical Therapist, demonstrates positioning at a welfare institute.

g exercises. A team of 4 local rehabilitation therapists are on site to offer children daily therapy, and our therapists joined the treatment sessions to give hands-on advice in addition to giving lessons when not treating children. The management staff and ayis were also given training on the importance of postural care management.

The experience of working with the staff and children in Anhui was a very fulfilling and eye-opening experience for the team. “‘Working in a welfare center where there are so many children and so few therapists and resources, when compared with the individual treatment sessions I am used to and the comparative availability of resources in Shanghai forces you to change gears and loo at very simple, practical ways in which you can help the children and the staff caring for them,” commented Zi Li, “It makes you really realize the difference you can make in children’s lives.” This sentiment was also reflected by Irene. “To really change the way care is done in China for physically disabled children, one needs to look at the needs of the most disadvantaged – and really there are two worlds that we need to address. I think this was a very good initiative and think more should be done for these types of establishments.”