2016 Bhutan Trip Two

November, 2016

In November 2016, Darcy O'Neil was a part of an Interplast Australia and New Zealand combined intensive program of hand surgery, therapy and education sessions. He was a part of a wonderful team including; Team Leader Dr. Philip Griffin (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon), Dr. Mark Moore (Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon), Dr. Steve Kinnear (Anaesthetist), Karen Burford (Occupational Therapist), Vanessa Dittmar (Theatre Nurse) and Helen Fuss (Registered Nurse). This year’s joint trip with Interplast was hard work, rewarding and fun!

We saw over 100 patients in our hand therapy clinic in Thimphu, the Capital. The conditions seen were complex and diverse. A large number of children presented with fractures, burns and a range of different congenital anomalies. There were also a lot of adults with wrist fractures, tendon and nerve injuries and some amputations from wild animal attacks (bears and boars). The therapy team completed all the rehabilitation following the complex reconstructive hand surgery cases.

During the Interplast visit, Tshering Dorji (resident physio technician) and 12 other physiotherapists and physiotherapy technicians from regional areas across Bhutan attended an education and mentoring program. This occurred via observation, mentoring, supervised practice and formal and informal education over 15 days.  Karen and Helen provided formal lectures at Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Sciences of Bhutan on oedema, burns management and skin graft management.

Darcy provided formal lectures on upper limb management post stroke and management of elbow conditions. Karen and Darcy provided Informal training in the clinic on neural assessment and mobilisation techniques, ROM and strength assessment and splinting patterns. Informal teaching and hands on demonstration allowed trainees to participate in supervised wound care, assessment, and treatment.

Our fund raising via Southern Adelaide Health Institute – Bhutan Fund allowed us to provide an enormous amount of greatly needed splints and therapy equipment, which is unavailable in Bhutan. We were also able to provide the Bhutanese School for the Hearing Impaired with a digital camera and much needed supplies.

This year we were able to meet the board of The Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital including Dr Lhab Dorji (Director), Dr Sonam Dorji (Chief Orthopaedic Surgeon) and Dr Gosar Pemba (Medical Superintendant). We had a great dinner with the Health Secretory from the Ministry of Health. They were very supportive of our work and grateful for our help and teaching.

Dr. Griffin, Dr. Kinnear and Darcy all took a strong interest in traditional bamboo archery, which is the national sport. During the trip the three purchased traditional Bamboo bows and plan sharing traditional Bhutanese culture with family and friends at home.

Once again, thank you to all of you who donate regularly to our Bhutan Fund and allow us to continue “Helping Hands in Bhutan”.


"Providing hand care and rehabilitation to our patients for over 25 years."