Health
 Taiwan
Project #10558

Rehabilitation for burn survivors in Taiwan

by Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation
Vetted

The June 27th Water Park Explosion in Taiwan injured 499 people, most of them are in their late teens and early twenties. Suddenly, their young lives were disrupted and as they began to be discharged from hospital, they slowly realized that this wasn't the end of their ordeal, and that in fact, the long road towards recovery stretched in front of them. Sometimes, it feels as if all of their dreams for the future are shattered and that it would just be easier to put them aside...

One of these young survivors from the Water Park Explosion is 19-year old Meng-Hsiu. Meng-Hsiu sustained second and third degree burns over 77% of his body, mainly his arms, legs and chest. Meng-Hsiu says: “After being discharged from the hospital, a social worker from Sunshine gave me a lot of encouragement, so I came to the Taoyuan-Hsinchu Service Center where I can do rehabilitation surrounded by other Water Park survivors. We encourage one another, so the days feel less painful.”

Meng-Hsiu has always loved playing baseball and before his injury, he was the pitcher for his university’s baseball team. Due to his burns, he is unable to raise his arms or his head, scars over his chest also restrict his movements and he has lost much of his muscle strength. Although it seems for now that his baseball dreams are far away, Meng-Hsiu hasn't given up. In order to return to the game he loves the most, Meng-Hsiu began physical rehabilitation immediately after hospital discharge in September. Despite the itching and pain caused by scars, he repeatedly stretches the scars on his chest, practices crouching on the ground and raising his arms. Meng-Hsiu says: “I want to return as soon as possible to school and play baseball with my teammates.”

Meng-Hsiu is one of the burn survivors currently undergoing rehabilitation at Sunshine's new Taoyuan-Hsinchu Service Center, which officially opened on October 16, 2015. The Taoyuan-Hsinchu Work Station was originally set up in 2014, but due to the rapid increase in the number of clients, which almost doubled within a year, the Work Station was expanded to become a full-fledged Service Center. This meant hiring physical and occupational therapists, social workers and a counseling psychologist, and moving to bigger facilities where we can provide physical rehabilitation and psychological counseling services. Currently, there are 45 burn survivors from the Water Park Explosion that have started undergoing rehabilitation at the Center.

During the opening ceremony for the new Service Center, Meng-Hsiu wore his team’s practice uniform to give himself courage, and showed everyone the progress he has made by demonstrating the pitching posture and movements. This was a very emotional moment for Meng-Hsiu, because it was the first time since his injury that he was able to do the thing he loves most, and it's a proof that he is getting closer to fulfilling his dream of playing baseball again. Meng-Hsiu strongly encourages all the burn survivors from the Water Park Explosion to begin rehabilitation: “Don’t give up on your dreams! You must courageously keep on moving forward!”

As a donor to our project Rehabilitation for burn survivors in Taiwan, you are helping Meng-Hsiu and countless other burn survivors move one step closer to realizing their dreams. Thank you for your support!

Meng-Hsiu shows his pitcher move
Meng-Hsiu shows his pitcher move

Rehabilitation will take time, it will be painful, but you are not alone because we will accompany you all the way...

Towards the end of July, survivors of the Formosa Fun Coast Water Park Explosion began to be discharged from hospital (1). As they return home, burn survivors and their families face a new set of challenges: dealing with wounds and scarring, as well as having to do physical rehabilitation.

Indeed, during the skin healing process, burn survivors will still have to deal with wounds, as scar tissue is fragile and is easily damaged or injured, resulting in skin breakdown, small wounds or blisters. Scar care is also crucial, as skin needs to be always kept clean and moisturized. Taking care of blisters on their child’s healing skin or helping their child shower can be a daunting task for parents unfamiliar with the whole process, so that is why Sunshine began holding wound care and scar care trainings for survivors and their family. During hands-on training sessions, staff of Sunshine explain the process of skin healing and scar formation, as well as how to protect fragile skin, how to deal with small wounds, how to care for scars and the importance of pressure therapy to control scar formation.

Furthermore, social workers and therapists of Sunshine began to visit survivors at hospitals to assess rehabilitation needs and plan individualized rehabilitation programs which include exercises, assistive devices and home environment modification. The goal is to ensure a better quality of life for burn survivors after their hospital discharge.

In addition, to address the rehabilitation needs of survivors of the Water Park Explosion, Sunshine has expanded its rehabilitation network. First of all, apart from the two current Rehabilitation Centers in Taipei City and Kaohsiung City, three new rehabilitation centers have been set up and are specially dedicated to serving the victims of the June 27 explosion: one in New Taipei City which opened on August 24, one in Taipei City scheduled to open on October 1, and one in Taichung City scheduled to open in November. Another Half-Way House offering short-term residential services for the victims of the June 27 explosion undergoing intensive rehabilitation has also opened in New Taipei City on August 24. These centers are staffed with teams of physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, counseling psychologists and care attendants dedicated to helping burn survivors regain the ability to return to their active, independent life.

Sunshine was able to quickly respond to the services needs of burn survivors and accompany them as they embark on the long road towards recovery because of your ongoing support. Thank you for making this possible!

And now, during GlobalGiving’s Bonus Day on September 16, you have the chance to maximize the value of your support because GlobalGiving will be matching gifts made to Sunshine Foundation at 30%. This means that your donation of $100 will receive a $30 match!

We invite you to support Sunshine Foundation’s efforts to provide comprehensive rehabilitation services to burn survivors in Taiwan by donating to our project Rehabilitation for burn survivors in Taiwan.

http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/burn-survivor-rehabilitation/ 

Mark the Bonus Day date on your calendar!!! We encourage you to make your donation early, because matching funds will likely run out before the end of the day.

Taiwan time: from Wednesday, September 16 at 9:00 PM to Thursday, September 17 at 11:59 AM.
US time: from Wednesday, September 16 at 9:00 AM EST to Wednesday, September 16 at 11:59 PM EST

(1) As of September 4, 301 patients have been discharged and 186 patients remain hospitalized. Source: New Taipei City Government website (in Chinese).

Almost a year ago on August 1st 2014, a terrible gas explosion shook the southern city of Kaohsiung, with many people sustaining severe burn injuries. For a year now, Sunshine Foundation has been helping 51 burn survivors from this disaster, with 41 of them still undergoing physical and psychological rehabilitation at the Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center. As these burn survivors are still trying to overcome many difficulties in order to return to a normal life, they are also painfully aware of the hardships facing another group of burn victims: those from the Taipei Water Park Explosion of June 27, 2015. That is why eight burn survivors from Sunshine’s Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center have decided to overcome their shyness in front of the camera to participate in the production of a short film and send encouragements to burn victims currently struggling in hospitals across Taiwan. They hope that by sharing their experience, they can give burn victims and family members the courage and hope to face the future. 

See the video here

The eight burn survivors featured in the film have TBSA (total body surface area that is burned) ranging from 12% to 75%. Apart from the physical pain from repeated debridement, skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries, they’ve also had to deal with the emotional pressure of coping with a changed appearance or being entirely dependent on others for their daily needs. They bravely share on camera their ordeal in order to encourage the burn victims from the Taipei Water Park Explosion.

One of them is Yan-Hsiang, who sustained third degree burns over 66% of his body. The explosion knocked him unconscious and he woke up a month and a half later, only to realize that his right leg had been amputated in order to preserve his life. Deep in despair about his condition and his future, he realized that his wife and child had remained by his side, caring for him every day, so he decided that they would be his reason to go on. Yan-Hsiang must now wear pressure garments, he’s had to learn how to walk with a prosthetic leg and he will most probably need to undergo further reconstructive surgeries for his face, but he is well aware of how far he’s come and wants to send burn victims this message: “I’ve lost a leg and now I’m able to stand up, you too can do it!”

Yan-Hsiang says: “You have to find something you believe in that will be your reason to go on living or something that you feel you must accomplish in your life. Don’t think about yesterday, the day before or things in the past. Your physical condition will be totally different from what it used to be. You have to think about how you’ll face tomorrow and the day after.”

About Kaoshiung Rehabilitation Center:

Sunshine’s Kaohsiung Rehabilitation Center was established in 2014 following the August 1st Gas Explosion. The Center provides physical and psychosocial rehabilitation services to burn survivors, including physical and occupational therapy, pressure garment and assistive device services, financial aid, psychological counseling, independent living training, wound care and vocational strengthening.

Links:

After a family meeting, a relative of one of the victims said with tears in her eyes: “Before attending this meeting, I had no idea that we have such a long road ahead of us…”

Following the major explosion that took place at the Formosa Fun Coast Water Park and that injured close to 500 youths, Sunshine Foundation mobilized its staff to respond to the needs of the victims and the families affected by the tragedy, as well as the needs of professionals working with the victims.

At this point, helping parents and family members cope with stress and reduce their anxiety is extremely important. A burn accident, especially one the scope of the June 27th Formosa Water Park Explosion, catches people off guard. At that moment, family members of the victim are left feeling helpless, anxious and at a loss about what comes next. Caught up in dealing with the immediate need for emergency medical care, many parents cannot fathom what the future of their child will be, let alone the challenges they will face in the next few months. Indeed, many people unfamiliar with burns believe that once their child leaves hospital, all will be well, whereas in fact, this is when the difficult process of rehabilitation begins.

Apart from providing appropriate psychological support to family members through a special Help Hotline set up just two days after the incident, Sunshine has also begun to hold support meeting for family members of the victims, to help them understand the recovery and rehabilitation process of their child, answer their questions and address their worries. During these meetings, social workers of Sunshine help explain the physical and rehabilitation process after burns, as well as introduce the services and resources that Sunshine can provide burn survivors and their families. Already, two meetings have been held on July 8 and 11, with three more to be held on July 15, 19 and 22. Furthermore, Sunshine will also be working with hospitals to hold similar meetings in the hospital with family members, or in the case where some hospitals have fewer numbers of burn patients (less than five families), Sunshine will arrange individual counseling for family members.

Apart from psychological support for families, social workers and therapists of Sunshine have begun holding special trainings for professionals involved in the care of the explosion victims. The Formosa Water Park Explosion resulted in a huge number of people sustaining major burn injuries, suddenly increasing the need for relevant burn services. Various agencies are now mobilizing their staff to provide assistance to victims and their family, however, many professionals are not familiar with burns and might not feel equipped to deal with the various uncertainties that might arise due to the particularities of burns. In order to give professionals the tools and knowledge to deal with this crisis, Sunshine began organizing on July 4 special training courses targeting social workers and psychologists, with the aim of increasing their burn-related knowledge. Courses for therapists (physical and occupation therapists), as well as volunteers involved in support work are now being held as well. Sunshine Foundation has over 30 years of experience in burn rehabilitation and is ready to share its expertise, the idea being to strengthen the abilities of every professional involved in the care of the burn victims in order to create a strong and efficient service network.

A victim’s father: With burns over 90% of the body, how will my child live?
Social worker: I know many who have survived and are now doing very well.
A victim’s father: My child’s life is over…
Social worker: Your child’s life is not over, a lot of burn survivors go back to school, find work and live a full life. Some even live fuller lives than ordinary people!

On the evening of June 27, a major explosion occurred at the Formosa Fun Coast Water Park during a party attended by hundreds of youths. Inspired by the Indian traditional festival of Holi during which people celebrate by throwing colored powder, the rave-like party featured music and colored powder sprayed at high velocity from the stage. At around 8:30pm, for reasons still to be determined, the powder ignited, creating a ball of flames that engulfed partygoers. As a result, 497 people sustained inhalation injuries and burns of various levels of severity (one victim passed away on June 29). As of June 29, 267 people were still in ICU, fighting for their lives.

At this critical stage, victims are receiving specialized care in more than 40 hospitals across Taiwan but in the coming months, as they progressively recover and are discharged from hospital, they will require physical rehabilitation to manage their scars and prevent loss of function. Victims and family members will also require psychological support to cope with the trauma of the accident, as well as address issues arising from a changed appearance.

Sunshine Foundation is ready to help burn victims by offering its rehabilitation services. Already, Sunshine has responded to this crisis by mobilizing its social workers and counseling psychologists across Taiwan to provide appropriate psychological support to family members at this stage of the crisis through a special Help Hotline. Victims of the June 27 Water Park Explosion and their family members can call the Help Hotline from 8:30am to 21:30pm, social workers are on hand to listen and answer their questions.

Sunshine’s social workers have also been carrying out hospital visits to meet with family members, explain the future process of rehabilitation to them so that they know what to expect, and also assess needs to plan services for the coming months.

Sunshine Foundation has been helping burn survivors in Taiwan rebuild their lives since 1981 and we will use this expertise accumulated over the years to help the young victims of the June 27 Water Park Explosion, as well as their family. We hope that you will continue to support our efforts through GlobalGiving, and we will continue to update you about our work. Together, we can give burn survivors and their families the strength to overcome this ordeal and find new hope in the future.

 

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Organization Information

Sunshine Social Welfare Foundation

Location: Taipei City - Taiwan
Website: http:/​/​www.sunshine.org.tw/​english/​
Project Leader:
Marie-Claude Pelchat
Taipei City, Taiwan
$32,092 raised of $40,000 goal
 
 
336 donations
$7,908 to go
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