Interview of Fr. Martin Trieb O.S.B. with Fr. Gérard T. Lagleder O.S.B.

What is the purpose of physiotherapy with a terminal patient?

There are several reasons why we do exercises with our patients. One reason is the nature of the Zulu. The sick Zulu has the attitude “Now I lie will down, hide in a blanket and wait until it is all over. Then I will get up again and I will be fine.” And this is exactly not the case with AIDS. One can lie down in bed for as long as one would like, but the disease will not be cured by practically cutting oneself off from the outside world, by lying down in bed and not moving. The other reason also has a psychological background. It is important that the patients feel “I am not in a death machine now, where I cannot leave the rail leading to Auschwitz neither to the left nor to the right, but it ends in that gas chamber where I die.” This is exactly what we do not want an AIDS patient to feel, but we want to make him enjoy his life, we want to show him that he can spend these last weeks and months of his life really alive, as a person who participates fully and moving is part of this. Not that one would spend the whole day in bed, but that one would actually move. There is the good old saying, “If you rest, you rust!” and this is what unfortunately applies to our body, too. If we do not move our body we soon feel pain, our joints get stiff, we get drop feet and suffer various other symptoms of restricted mobility. Of course this is exactly what we want to prevent. Therefore it is important, even with a dying patient, be it AIDS or any other disease, to continue physiotherapy so that the body remains mobile and to prevent pain, which the patient really should not be subjected to, but we want to enable him to experience the last days of life as comfortable and pain free as possible.

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This page was last updated on Tuesday, 15 January 2013 12:50:28