FEATURED STORY

new hope in the mountains of Nepal

How a mobile physiotherapy unit changes a life

by Srish Khakurel, International Medical Corps

The following is the story of a young Nepali boy plagued by an unknown chronic illness throughout his life. Click on the white arrow on the right side of the photo below to read the full story of how International Medical Corps is working to change his life.

  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Gore Kumal lost the ability to move his left leg when he was a toddler. His knees and elbows would often swell up, causing him severe pain. Local doctors diagnosed the illness as ‘baath’, the ambiguous, generic Nepali term for a range of conditions symptomatic of arthritis.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Kumal’s family tried everything that the doctors suggested, even a combination of jackal meat and liquor at one point, but no treatment seemed to improve his condition. Eventually, the family could no longer afford to keep searching for a solution. “We gave up and accepted fate,” said his teary-eyed father. “We are poor farmers and there is only so much we can do.”
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Despite his disability and the challenges of moving around on makeshift wooden crutches in Nepal’s mountainous terrain, Kumal, now 17, was determined to live a happy life. He attended school every day and liked to watch his friends play volleyball.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Yet, nothing could prepare Kumal for the events of April 25, when a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. With the epicentre just 20 miles from Kumal’s village, his family’s earth and stone house offered little protection against the force of the quake. Kumal was barely able to drag himself outside to safety and in the process he tripped and broke the femur bone in his left leg.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    At the hospital in Gorkha, Kumal’s leg was set and cast. He was sent home to recover, but the chronic condition that has plagued him since childhood remained shrouded in mystery. His home is damaged to the point where his family of eight prefers to sleep outside under corrugated tin sheets.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    The school that he misses so much is temporarily closed because of damage to the buildings. Although Kumal is desperate to go back once new classrooms are built with tarpaulins, he may not see his friends until his femur fracture heals properly.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    After hearing about Kumal’s injury, an International Medical Corps mobile physical therapy unit traveled to his village to see how they could help.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Our physiotherapists were able to teach him exercises that will help to speed up his recovery.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    On their next visit, they gave him a set of adjustable crutches. Since there is only a squat toilet at his house, they also gave him an easy-to-use, portable toilet.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Even these small interventions have made a major impact on Kumal’s life. “The crutches are very light and make it easier to walk around,” he told our team.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    The International Medical Corps team is also working to get Kumal tested to finally give him a diagnosis for his chronic illness and options for treatment.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Regardless of the outcome, our physiotherapists hope to get Kumal to the newly opened physiotherapy unit at Gorkha hospital for more intensive physical therapy. The unit is the first of its kind in Gorkha and is already helping many others like Kumal.
  • photo credit: International Medical Corps/Omar Havana

    Kumal’s story is but one of many in his home district of Gorkha, where International Medical Corps has been working in support of local health and government officials to help those in need.
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