After completing further education, Sr. Nitha completed a paramedical course for 6 months and went on to further studies, finally completing a physiotherapy technician course at the Schieffelin Institute of Health – Research & Leprosy Centre, Karigiri in Tamil Nadu.
Physiotherapy technicians not only play a vital role in the treatment and prevention of disability caused by leprosy, they also build close relationships with the people they care for, an important factor in Lepra’s person-centred approach.
While I was working as a paramedical worker, I would often talk to patients in my care, about the difficulties and problems they are facing on a day-to-day basis. Especially people affected by leprosy, many of whom face terrible prejudice and discrimination in their communities as a result of their disabilities. I felt that if I can learn physiotherapy, I might be able to help people affected by leprosy overcome the impact of their disabilities, and I would be helping to make their lives a little better.
I enjoy my conversations with patients and it give me immense happiness when I am able to help them prevent or recover from disabilities, by treating them at early stages with physiotherapy. When people undergo reconstructive surgery, it is very important for the recovery that they follow the physiotherapy exercises, and I am proud to play a part in that journey.
Most of the patients feel happy and emotional that they are accepted, cared and looked after which is quite contrary to the discrimination they might face in their communities. They listen with great interest and care when I explain to them about the exercises and are always thankful for the help we provide.
The most interesting part is that I get to meet different people from various places and help them with the skills that I have learnt. It is amazing that after the reconstructive surgery and physiotherapy sessions, they are able to go back to their daily work routines and to be able to take care of their families. Even after a long time, they never forget the care they received and will often greet me and wish me well. Physiotherapy helps to form a deep and personal bond with the people in our care.
I have started to accept everyone for who they are. We need to be compassionate and empathic to people, irrespective of their background or where they are from. This helps them to be feel more comfortable and open with us, which of course helps their recovery.
I am grateful that I have a family who consistently supported and encouraged me throughout my career and they are proud that I am able to contribute some good in the community, helping people affected by leprosy.