Colleen Murphy and Chloe Stephens - India placement Summer 2014

Coleen Murphy

I was as expected very anxious before beginning my trip to India for an elective placement. India was not somewhere I had expected myself to visit at such a young age, with only one other person, and especially to treat patient’s as a Student Physiotherapist. Following a week of travelling the breath taking sights of the Golden Triangle (Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur), we were ready to start our clinical placement at the Lakshmi Neuro centre.

We set off on our flight to Hyderabad, situated in the South of India, where we were graciously met at the airport by Dr. Pamela Narayan, our clinical educator. I was very fond of Pamela from this point, as she made it clear that she was there to offer any support clinically, but also regarding sightseeing and travelling during our three week stay in Hyderabad. Pamela had organised a shuttle service to and from our accommodation on a daily basis, and the driver was very friendly, despite his lack of English. ‌

On our first day at the clinic I walked in feeling very apprehensive of what I was to expect, and my first impressions we’re that of the extreme difference in facilities, hygiene, and general medical care between India, and an westernised country such as the UK.

We were introduced to the Physiotherapy team on our first day, who seemed fascinated by us and our reasoning to come to India to study. The language barrier was difficult from the beginning, and the Physiotherapists had particular trouble understanding my strong Birmingham accent! We began observing a wide range of patient’s from the get go, including mainly paediatric cases, such as cerebral palsy, developmental delay, Duchene’s muscular dystrophy. There was also the opportunity to observe and treat some musculoskeletal disorders, such as post-surgical spinal and knee cases.

With regards to the independence we were given during this placement, it was significantly less than on our placements in the UK, and I picked up the reasoning behind this being due to the culture of the Indian people and medical profession. Patients are often treated by the highest ranked medical profession, ie- qualified Physiotherapist, and a qualified doctor, and through speaking to the Physiotherapists working at the clinic, clinical placements, and student practice was a minimal part of their training.

We had the opportunity to observe surgery whilst on placement, as Dr Narayan’s husband was the Consultant neurosurgeon at the centre. We were able to observe a lumber spine decompression, which was extremely interesting and beneficial, as the surgeon was explaining and pointing out the clinically relevant anatomy as he was performing the procedure. In addition to this, we were able to observe a craniotomy, in which a haematoma was removed from the brain. This procedure was performed at the local hospital, which was significantly bigger than the rehabilitation centre which we were based at.

Overall I had a once in a lifetime experience taking part in a clinical placement in India, one which will stay with me forever.

Chloe Stephens

India is a wonderful country with a rich cultural history and heritage. It is like nothing you will have ever experienced before. While in India I was fortunate enough to explore and visit some amazing places including New Delhi with the Taj Mahal, the Pink City of Agra and Jaipur where I rode on an elephant before arriving at the Lakshmi Neuro Centre in Hyderabad.

I also had ample opportunities during my placement to experience the ‘real’ India including exploring local sights, culture and local cuisine.

Lakshmi Neuro Centre, in Hyderabad, is where I was lucky enough to do an international physiotherapy placement. The clinic helps paediatric patients with neuro disabilities learn to walk and encourages their development. I had the opportunity to treat conditions such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, downs syndrome, and a paraplegic patient to name but a few. The clinic also sees several MSK patients for example total knee replacements, rotator cuff tears and scapular dyskinesis. The clinic consists of several physiotherapists and assistants who are all very friendly and welcoming.

It was a great opportunity to experience physiotherapy in a completely different environment. One very noticeable difference was the standards in health and safety, which are a long way behind the standards in the UK!

During the placement there was even an opportunity to watch surgery which included a lumbar laminectomy and a craniotomy. A surreal experience to say the least, when there was a power cut mid-way through surgery and we had to wait several minutes for the generators to start working. I even got the chance to operate the x-ray machine during the lumbar laminectomy.

Overall the opportunity to visit India and take part in the placement was an incredible experience.