I made the decision to travel to Takoradi, Ghana because Work the World informed me that there was a good link with physiotherapy and that it would be appropriate because English is spoken by most of the local people.
I also decided on this location because I wanted to go to Africa and understand the healthcare system and physiotherapy further.
My first impressions of the placement hospital were good! It was bigger than I expected but very busy and hot.
The levels of cleanliness and privacy were definitely lower than in the UK and the facilities were clearly much more dated and limited.
However, I thought that the physiotherapy department was fairly similar to how it may be structured in the UK but the equipment, facilities and treatment methods were very different.
I learnt so many skills and developed many others and I found it was an incredible experience overall. In particular, I found that my ability to communicate non-verbally improved as well as my knowledge of some areas of physiotherapy.
I also think that my surface anatomy and palpation knowledge around the spine improved after using this skill a lot during my placement when assisting with the many patients with back pain.
There are a couple of cases that I remember that were particularly interesting and I learnt a lot from.
There was a young man who had been involved in a serious bus accident where many people had lost their lives but he had survived. But as a result, he had serious soft tissue injuries to his knee.
He was a great patient to talk to and also to assist in rehabilitation because of how interested and motivated he was to continue and improve.
I found this really interesting as I had to think on my feet when using the equipment that was available to create rehabilitation exercises that also followed the local guidelines.
I also remember several patients who came to physiotherapy for assistance with weakness in multiple limbs after having a stroke.
I found this to be very different from the UK because these patients in Ghana would arrive for physiotherapy over a year after the stroke happened having sought no previous medical management.
Many people only sought orthodox healthcare as a last resort
This attitude towards healthcare was something that surprised me. Many people only sought orthodox healthcare as a last resort, choosing herbal or spiritual medicine as a priority instead.
The staff in the hospital were great at answering my questions both clinically and culturally. I always found that they were available for me to ask questions and that they also respected my opinion and thoughts.
During my time in Ghana, I was able to learn a lot from the staff there, as well as also passing on some of my knowledge too.
Another aspect of the placement that I found really enjoyable was how easy I found it to relax and chill out with the other housemates.
In the afternoons, we would often sit out by the pool, go to the beach or sometimes go to the market and buy gifts. I found it was a great way to make friends and this made it easy to unwind after placement.
We would often travel on the weekends to other local beaches or national parks to see more of Ghana, outside of Takoradi.
I had a lot of fun on these trips and it was one of my favourite parts about the placement as I was able to enjoy time at the beach as well as see some incredible scenery and wildlife.
If you are thinking about doing a placement abroad, I would definitely recommend Work the World as there are so many things that they organise and take care of that make it much less stressful.
It was a great opportunity to do something like this, as it might be much harder to do when working full time.
Ghana was a great destination with wonderful weather, very friendly people and a very well organised placement opportunity that enabled my trip to go very smoothly.