Nima and Dawa making leaps and bounds with physio


APA member Katie Hatton is one of four physiotherapists from St Vincent’s Private Hospital in Melbourne who have volunteered their time to provide physiotherapy support for conjoined Bhutanese twins Nima and Dawa.

Under the coordination of the hospital’s Allied Health Manager Pauline Macleod, also an APA member, and a second year physiotherapy student, the team has worked with the twins weekly since they were successfully operated on at the Royal Children’s Hospital in November. Katie says ‘It’s a wonderful feeling being able to improve a person’s quality of life, especially for children who wouldn’t otherwise have access to such specialist care.’  

The physiotherapy team provides treatment to several of the special needs children residing at the Children First Foundation (CFF) Retreat in Kilmore, north of Melbourne. The Foundation supports children from developing countries who require life-changing surgery, offering pre and post-surgery rehabilitation and recovery with support from a specialist team of health practitioners and carers. 

Katie has been working with Nima and Dawa since their discharge from hospital last month, monitoring motor development and providing guidance to the twins’ mother Bhumchu and CFF staff on how to progress the girls’ motor skills to achieve age appropriate milestones.

A large part of this has been education regarding toy placement to entice rolling, crawling and standing, which gives the twins an opportunity to strengthen their core and upper and lower limbs. She has also provided education on positioning for torticollis management.

Katie says Bhumchu’s strong maternal instincts and understanding of the physiotherapy interventions required has helped the twins thrive. ‘While they’re not quite at the same level as their 17 month old counterparts, the girls have made incredible leaps with their recovery. Nima has been consistently a little stronger than Dawa, but both have demonstrated improvements with their head and trunk control—learning how to crawl, roll and sit. Nima is also able to pull up and stand independently and cruise along furniture.’

Katie credits the girls’ curious, resilient nature and the engagement of Bhumchu and staff at CFF with their better-than-expected progress, and believes they will be walking within a couple of months.

‘Our physiotherapy support has obviously been very beneficial for the girls, but it has truly been a team effort. The extremely talented team at the Royal Children’s Hospital, committed staff at CFF and love and support of their mother Bhumchu—as well as the girls themselves—has helped achieve these great results.’