Nigerians reacted with shock and anger to the heartbreaking account and video of a physiotherapist that repeatedly assaulted a child with cerebral palsy under her care. And guess what? She took selfies in between these terrible acts of child abuse and torture.
According to the story published on BellaNaija, the physiotherapist hit the child several times with objects, slapped her and pushed her to the ground. Unknown to her, all these acts were recorded on CCTV which led to its discovery.
The child’s mother, Mrs Bukola Ayinde said:
It was heartbreaking to see my daughter treated by a health worker in such a barbaric act.
I watched my daughter as she fell down several times hitting her head on the tiles. There were times she hit her head on the edge of the wooden bed before falling to the ground.
Her Physiotherapist slapped her three times; the third time with her cell phone. She left her head hanging upside for 5 minutes. She twisted my daughter’s hands several times; at a point she sat on her hands, at another point she tied her hands behind her head. I watched as my daughter fell from her chair while her neck was stuck in between the space at the vertical back rest and the flat wood used for sitting down. I watched on as this lady typed on her phone 90% of the time only taking some time off to torture my daughter. Did I mention that she took out time to take her selfie? Up to five times.
Although the physiotherapist was arrested and later sanctioned by the Medical Board of Rehabilitation, she went on to secure a leadership award and scholarship recently which has ignited a petition for her recall and prosecution.
Many persons that saw the video broke down in tears and couldn’t watch it to the end.
The video which contained several graphic images was taken down from Youtube for violating community guidelines.
Nevertheless, it generated a lot of reactions such as:
”This is absolutely wicked & horrible. She needs to be punished & if you don’t name her, you are putting other children at risk of this trauma. She should serve a more tangible punishment”
Another lamented that ”accountability in Nigeria is a joke” while a lawyer offered to take up the case pro bono and petitions are on to recall her the alleged abuser from the US.
Mrs Bukola’s child had cerebral palsy which is caused by a problem in the brain that may have occurred before, during or after birth. The child has serious difficulties with movement and coordination which affects abilities to carry out basic functions. Typically, most parents realize that a child has Cerebral palsy at age 2 or 3 years due to delay in walking. Prior to this, they may found delays in neck control (usually at 3 months) and sitting (usually at 6 months). Depending on the severity, they may experience unpredictable jerky movements too. Treatment involves physiotherapist, speech therapists, occupational therapists, medications to relax muscles and sometimes surgery.
It is important to note that children with special needs are at risk of abuse by caregivers including health professionals because the huge burden of care involved. Some carers and professionals experience burnout making them irritable, depressed, angry, frequently exhausted and sometimes aggressive. Since children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities are defenseless, have poor intellectual abilities and unable to express themselves, they easily become the victims of abuse.
You may need to look out for warning signs of abuse such as:
- Sudden, unexplained changes in behaviour and mood
- Nightmares and difficulty sleeping
- Becoming clingy or withdrawn from others (this may occur more in specific places)
- Unexplained bruises and injuries
- Fear of particular persons or places
Child abuse is criminal and healthcare professionals and carers that abuse children under their care can be charged for negligence or maltreatment.
Nevertheless, prevention is much better.
In view of these, additional safeguards should be installed to prevent child abuse.
This may include use of video monitors and hidden cameras.
Additional, ensuring that the child is NOT alone with caregivers helps.