At the simple mention of work, Carina Botes’s eyes light up.

Growing up in South Africa as the daughter of a nurse, Carina was always confident that she wanted to be in the healthcare industry and had a special passion for rehabilitation. However, it wasn’t until Carina was at the young age of sixteen, when her cousin visited from the United Kingdom after completing his studies in physiotherapy, that her calling was triggered.

Years later, Carina has successfully accomplished her goal. She spends her days working as a physiotherapist at Amana Healthcare, a specialized provider of long-term acute care, post-acute rehabilitation, transitional care and home care services. Carina currently looks after seven patients: four pediatric and one adult in long term care; and two adults in post-acute rehabilitation who are regaining their ability to walk, speak, and eat on their own after suffering a stroke and spinal cord injury respectively.

When asked why she chose to work in the United Arab Emirates when she had options to choose from all around the world, Carina responds with a wide smile. “I had received a post in the mail for the role of a physiotherapist. When I was trying to make the decision, the amount of sunshine here definitely helped,” she laughs. “For a start, I wanted to work at a hospital that is accredited at US and international standards. Amana Healthcare has both CARF and JCI accreditation, which really represents the top western quality of medical care in the region,” she states.

“Also, one of the fundamental reasons I chose Amana Healthcare was the ability to develop a close relationship with the people I care for each day. I spend at least one to two hours daily with each of my patients, which is on par with the best rehabilitation hospitals in the world. Working with the same therapists through their rehabilitation program is hugely beneficial to patients and is far better than seeing a different therapist each day, which happens when resources are constrained. Amana Healthcare makes this possible.” Carina also enjoys the multidisciplinary team approach to patient care at Amana.  A specialist physician, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, and dietitian meet every morning to develop or review a customized plan for each patient. Carina’s spinal cord injury patient is 23 year old Emirati Sultan from Al Ain who incurred the injury as a result of a recent car accident and had previously spent five years serving his country as a soldier. One of the key constituents of Botes’ relationship with Sultan is her interaction with his family.

“We have family meetings in the first two weeks of a patient’s stay where the physician, physiotherapist, speech therapist, nurse, occupational therapist, and dietitian come together to review the patient’s progress and explain where things stand. The reason for this interaction is both practical and informative. It’s important to answer any questions they may have and to make sure the family is fully educated on the patient’s case for when he is discharged back home,” she continues.

Aside from the medical care, Carina regularly uses cutting-edge rehabilitation technologies to help improve the patient’s care.  She hoists a patient into the REX Bionic Exoskeleton, a self-supporting and self-balancing robotic device that allows people with severe mobility impairments to walk independently. The device, which originates from New Zealand, is the only one of its kind in the entire MENA region and is used exclusively at Amana Healthcare. When Sultan craves an outing, Carina joins him for a visit to the mall or to the park for a change of scenery, which also plays a role in improving Sultan’s state of well-being and his quality of life. Sultan is surprised by the progress he’s made since starting rehabilitation with Carina and is already contemplating his next goals. Despite his circumstances, he remains appreciative of his environment and the work people like Carina are doing for him.

“The staff are good and they’re fun,” he states. “Thankfully, my friends and family can also support me here as there is plenty of room for them to visit, stay and participate with me in various activities”

Explaining her role as a physiotherapist, Carina describes her typical routine from morning to evening.

7:30 am > Staff meeting to plan day ahead for each patient and highlight any important information

8:00 am > Treating long-term care patient

9:00 am > Treating one post-acute rehabilitation patient (currently Sultan) for his spinal cord injury.

Sessions focus on strengthening and endurance training of upper limbs, lower limb passive movements and stretches, transfers (between wheelchair, bed, gym bed, and floor), wheelchair mobility, pressure relief techniques, and cardiovascular endurance. Teaching patient exercises, such as strengthening and stretching, which he can practice on his own.

11:00 am > Treating long-term care patients

12:30 pm > Lunch

1:00 pm > Treating one post-acute rehabilitation patient: post-stroke with left sided weakness.

Sessions focus on core and left hip stabilization exercises, working on safe and independent transfers, gait re-education using different assistive devices, and wheelchair mobility training.

3:00 pm > Treat long-term care patients

5:00 pm > Responding to emails and completing statistics

“The satisfaction of seeing your patients’ progress after they have experienced trauma is indescribable. Helping them transition from our post-acute rehabilitation service to homecare services to eventually return to their regular routine at home work is our goal for each patient.”

“The joy of this success is unparalleled,” she concludes.