Ritaj … breaks the stereotype of her wheelchair
“Ritaj” eagerly walks down the aisle of the Rehabilitation Centre that is adjacent to the therapeutic rooms. She pedals her wheelchair with all her strength and determination towards the physiotherapy room in order to start exercising. She tries her best to compete with her disability and insists to overcome her current state of indolence.
Ritaj is a four-year-old girl, and the third child in a family that consists of four children. She was included in the kindergarten class at the beginning of the school year 2017/2018 – an inclusive class comprised at the Princess Basma Inclusive School.
The little girl was born with Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus. She also suffers from hemiplegia (paralysis) and delayed development in her fine motor skills due to her delivery during the 7th month of pregnancy, which left her spinal system incomplete.
Ritaj developed remarkably at school and became more responsive. She now can classify colors and shapes together. She has a lead personality and has the ability to build social relations, solve her problems, express herself and react toward her surroundings.
In an interview with Ritaj’s teacher about the progress has made over the past months, “I can say that Ritaj’s personality has blossomed from the beginning of the school year until now, she has been shy and introverted. But she began to change gradually. Now, she plays with other kids and chats a lot with her peers”.
Ritaj’s parents suffered when it came to helping their daughter go to the bathroom, because Ritaj lost sensation of her sphincter control (lower parts), and her medical condition did not allow her to go to the bathroom by herself. Accordingly, Ritaj’s parents had to regulate the hours of her going to the bathroom and get her body used to urinate and defecate. This also applied to her condition at school, as the nurse at the school had to escort her to the bathroom in certain hours as to establish a regular routine and retrain the body to hold on and become continent. In addition to that, Ritaj receives a package of comprehensive rehabilitation services at the Rehabilitation Centre which includes two physiotherapy sessions and two occupational sessions per week.
Her physiotherapist Muhannad says: “Ritaj did not know how to move her wheelchair to the mattress and back, but now she can do that on her own with little help. She has better control over the muscles of her pelvis and upper trunk, knowing that in the past she had inflexible muscles”.
However, Ritaj does some unusual movements like standing on her knees and balancing, in addition to taking steady steps forward while using the parallel bar.
Regarding occupational therapy, Ritaj had weakness in the movement of her fine muscles, which resulted in giving her some exercises to strengthen her muscles. Ritaj has done noticeable achievements regarding the use of her both hands and holding things with her fist. She can also eat independently without any help from her parents.
Ritaj is one of the many students with disability who receives educational and rehabilitation services at JPBC. It is worth noting that the Arab Bank has generously covered rehabilitation therapy for 14 children with disabilities from the area of Jerusalem. JPBC team along with its board of directors, and beneficiaries’ families are very thankful for the generous contribution of the Arab Bank which helped in upgrading the educational and rehabilitation services offered to children with disabilities (CWD) who get the opportunity to study in Princess Basma Inclusive School. This initiative helped to empower and integrate CWD in their own communities as well as alleviate the financial burden of their parents.