Bashar works with an HI physiotherapist following a shrapnel injury. Photo courtesy of Giles Duley and Handicap International.
Bashar, 13 years old, was injured in July 2011 during the early stages of the Syrian crisis. Engulfed by the fighting in Deraa, the family was forced to flee their home with their children and look for a safer place to stay. As they were leaving their home a tank shell landed nearby. Shrapnel from the blast shattered Bashar’s left leg and also wounded his brother.
Bashar was rushed to the hospital in Deraa where they put an internal fixture in his left knee and sutured the wound. He already suffered from juvenile arthritis and, as time went on, it became clear that he was not getting the care he needed to recover from his injury. In February 2012, as the conflict escalated, the family decided to leave Syria and seek treatment for Bashar in Jordan.
Once in Jordan, Bashar had further surgery, and his leg was put in a cast, leaving him bedridden for many months. As a result, he was unable to move his left knee joint, his muscles weakened further, and both legs became stiff from lack of use.
HI’s mobile team found Bashar in desperate need of rehabilitation. Having not received proper rehabilitation care for more than a year following his injury, Bashar’s recovery has been painful and slow, made worse by arthritis that makes all of the joints in his body very painful to touch.
As a young boy growing up in Syria, Bashar was often in pain from the inflammation in his joints, but he received treatment for his condition. He could still walk and play football.
Now confined to his family’s rented fifth floor apartment in a small town near the Syrian border, Bashar rarely gets to go outside and can only dream of attending school. If he had received physical therapy sooner, many of his current difficulties could have been avoided.
Muhammad, an HI physical therapist, visits Bashar once a week to provide physical therapy. “We have fitted Bashar with orthoses to help him stand and walk. He can only walk a short distance at the moment, but it’s good. I think he will be able to regain full movement in his legs.”
Muhammad showed the family simple exercises that they do with Bashar every day. HI has also provided Bashar with an adapted wheelchair, a bed and a pressure-relief mattress to keep him comfortable, as well as blankets and a hygiene kit.
It may take another six months for Bashar to stand unsupported, but he is already seeing the benefit of proper care and, after a difficult period, he is happy to finally be on the road to recovery.
Tom Shelton, communication officer for HI U.K., wrote this case study based on his field reporting in northern Jordan in late March 2013. The full names of beneficiaries and HI staff were not used for security reasons.