The joy of helping Hassan to walk again

4 December 2023

From a shy, scared young boy in a wheelchair to being able to walk, and even roll a ball down a bowling alley, Hassan Osman has come a long way in only a few months.

The eight-year-old has worked hard to reach this stage, dating back to January of this year when his family was in a serious motor accident.

Tragically, Hassan lost his father, grandfather, and sister in the accident. Only he and his brother survived, although Hassan sustained multiple serious injuries, and there were fears he would not make it.

Nurture Vereeniging rehab intervention leader Safiya Lambat describes the difficulties Hassan went through even before starting his out-patient therapy journey.

“Hassan was intubated, on PEG [percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy] feeds, and tracheostomised in acute care,” she recalls.

His life hung by a thread – but Hassan is a fighter. After three months of in-patient rehabilitation in Johannesburg, the feeding and tracheostomy tubes were removed and he was able to speak a little.

Still later, by the time he was discharged, he was able to move around in a wheelchair. This was when his mother brought him to Nurture Health for out-patient treatment.

“We all recall a shy, scared little boy being wheeled to therapy for his first out-patient session in Vereeniging,” says Lambat.

“He cried if his mom was out of sight for more than five minutes, and needed lots of motivation, begging and bargaining to participate in therapy.”

Therapy teamwork is dreamwork

That was in July this year. Fast forward through three months of out-patient therapy and Hassan is now walking independently.

“He is able to perform his ADL [activities of daily living] tasks independently, and comes to therapy singing, dancing and teasing his therapists,” says Lambat.

“We promised him at the beginning of therapy that if he participated well, we would take him bowling, not really thinking he would progress to that stage. He did!

“Physiotherapy got him walking to the bowling alley on his own, Occupational Therapy got him to push that bowling ball as hard as he could, and Speech Therapy got him to add those scores up and type in his name. That is the beauty of interdisciplinary therapy.

“His mom is so grateful for his progress and happy to see her little survivor showing such promise. He has started full time schooling this term.”

“Never overlook the power of kindness”

Lambat said working with Hassan had taught the team many lessons:

  • Never underestimate the impact of your intervention.
  • Never forget the effect of your commitment to a patient’s progress when you work towards a common goal.
  • Never overlook the power of kindness and investment in the patient’s journey.
  • You really do walk that journey together.

It was a privilege to treat Hassan

“We were privileged as a team to treat him because his situation and story made us all realise just how fragile life is,” said Lambat.

“It reminded us about the positive impact that rehab can have on the patient and their family.

“From the Vereeniging team, whose lives you have impacted more than we expected, we wish you well on your journey, onwards and upwards.

“Keep bowling people over with your smile, personality and resilience!”

Hassan 2
Speech therapist Zainub Tilly with Hassan

Hassan 3
Occupational therapist Yentl Arendsen, Hassan Osman and physiotherapist Oasis Sejake