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Physiotherapists aid recovery of intensive care patients in Gaza


Since November, MSF has been training physiotherapists in Gaza to improve patients’ care who are hospitalised in intensive care units.

For a patient lying immobile in intensive care, exercising their muscles and keeping moving is very important to recover. This is why physiotherapists have a significant role to play in intensive care units, using movement and massage to prevent muscle wastage and bed sores in coma patients and others. Regular physiotherapy sessions can help patients build up their strength, regain control over their bodies and speed up their recovery.

After an agreement between MSF and the Ministry of Health’s physiotherapy rehabilitation unit was signed in November 2013, an MSF team in Gaza started to train local physiotherapists in the specialised skills required for intensive care patients. Thanks to this training, MSF specialists are supporting and developing the skills of 11 physiotherapists working in intensive care units throughout the Gaza Strip.

“Each physiotherapist receives a practical and theoretical view of different issues related to intensive care unit physiotherapy,” says MSF head of mission Tommaso Fabbri. “At the end of the training, they will be able to evaluate and set up individual intensive care unit  rehabilitation programmes for each patient, according to standardised protocols.”

The training is supervised by an MSF physiotherapist who has been making regular visits to Gaza to share MSF’s experiences working with intensive care patients. The 11 physiotherapists who receive training come from state-run hospitals throughout Gaza, including the European hospital, Al-Shifa hospital, Nasser hospital, Al-Aqsa hospital and Kamal Adwan hospital. After the training, the MSF team will continue to provide the physiotherapists with support and guidance.

Owing to the Israeli blockade in place since 2007, Palestinian doctors and medical staff find it very difficult to leave Gaza to receive specialist training. That is why MSF has carried out previous training sessions with the physiotherapy rehabilitation unit on specialised burns, hand and cardio physiotherapy. In 2012, MSF organised two workshops for cardiologists and nurses at Al-Shifa and Nasser hospitals, explaining the role and protocols of physiotherapy and the importance of teamwork in developing a proper cardiac rehabilitation programme. Finally, in June 2013, MSF organised a training session in intensive care at Al-Shifa hospital for doctors from a number of hospitals in Gaza.


MSF is a medical non-governmental organisation which has been working in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 1989.