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  • War amputee footballers tackle, shoot, score in rebel-held Syria

    first_img0Shares0000Syrian amputees who were injured in the war take part in a football match organised by a centre for physical therapy in Idlib, the last province in the country outside government control, on January 15, 2018 © AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOURIDLIB, Syrian Arab Republic, Feb 13 – At the referee’s whistle, the young forward leans on his crutches and punts the football with his only leg, kicking off a match between war amputees in Syria’s battered northwest.What follows is a different take on the beautiful game: men of all ages, some using crutches, deftly pass the ball back and forth as they sail across the field. The ball reaches the attacker, who steadies himself on his crutches and uses his sole leg to send it flying towards the goal.The keeper, who is missing his right arm, dives to his knees to make a save, but the ball bounces past him into the net amid cheers and whistles.For the past month, a physiotherapy centre in Syria’s northwest Idlib province has been training 19 war-wounded men and boys to establish a football team.Idlib is the last province in Syria still outside government control and has faced a weeks-long regime assault backed by Russia.Syrian amputees who were injured in the war warm up for a football match organised by a centre for physical therapy in Idlib, the last province in the country outside government control, on January 15, 2018 © AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOURSome players are civilians, others are fighters — but they have been brought together by their impairments and their shared love for football.“Sometimes, the ball crosses right in front of me and I want to shoot it with my left leg, then I feel sorry for myself because my leg’s amputated,” says Salah Abu Ali, sitting on the sun-soaked edge of the football pitch.“Some things are still hard, like running or being fast.”The 23-year-old player was wounded nearly a year ago in a bombardment on his native Raqa, a northern Syrian city recaptured from the Islamic State group.He woke up in the hospital to find his leg had been amputated and decided to seek safety to the west in rebel-held territory.– ‘Ole, ole!’ –“When I first arrived in Idlib, I didn’t know anyone. I just thought of the past. I didn’t want to work, go out. I didn’t like to see people or let them see me,” says Abu Ali.But when he found the football team, he says, it was like getting “a new life”.Syrian amputees who were injured in the war warm up for a football match organised by a centre for physical therapy in Idlib, the last province in the country outside government control, on January 15, 2018 © AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR“I lost a limb but life goes on — I want to live my life as positively as possible. I want to play football, swim, come and go.”Founded just over a year ago, the rehabilitation centre that runs the football sessions is housed in Idlib’s Specialist Hospital.It has treated some 900 war-wounded, including men and women of all ages with injuries ranging from simple fractures to amputations, says physiotherapist Mohammad Marea.“We had a psychological objective in training these guys but also wanted to target their morale,” Marea tells AFP.“Thank God, they responded quickly and happily, accepting the idea wholeheartedly,” says Marea.Next the centre plans on setting up bodybuilding and swimming classes.Footballers train two or three times a week, for sessions of up to two hours.Those that have prosthetic legs prop them up against the metal fence — they move faster without them — and wrap amputated limbs in protective gauze.Syrian amputees wounded in the war take part in a football training session organised by a centre for physical therapy at a pitch in Idlib, the last province in the country outside the government’s control, on January 12, 2018 © AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOURAt a recent friendly match, opposing players wearing mint-green and red jerseys grappled over the ball on a pitch set up by charity association Shafak.“Ole, ole, ole!” team members cheered, their arms around each other’s shoulders and hopping on one leg.Added to the usual cacophony of cheers and referee whistles was the clinking of crutches as players darted across the field.– ‘Life doesn’t stop’ –At home after his match, Abdulqader al-Youssef drapes his medal around his toddler son’s head.“Look at what Daddy won today!” says the beaming 24-year-old, a lifetime football lover who played on his local team.Syrian amputees wounded in the war bandage their injured limbs prior to a football match organised by a centre for physical therapy in Idlib, the last province in the country outside the government control, on January 15, 2018 © AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOURYoussef hails from Homs, a central Syrian city known as “the capital of the revolution” that erupted across the country in 2011.He joined the uprising as a rebel fighter and even played football on breaks from the front, but he lost his right leg in clashes against government troops in 2015.“Being wounded was a huge shock to me. There were so many things I could do before my injury that I couldn’t do afterwards,” says Youssef, his dark curly hair pulled back by a black headband.Carrying groceries seemed an impossible task, until he joined the physiotherapy football team.“Since beginning training, I can do things I couldn’t do before. I used to say it was too hard, but now I can lift a gas canister and other things,” he says proudly.Syrian amputees wounded in the war take part in a football training session organised by a centre for physical therapy at a pitch in Idlib, the last province in the country outside government control, on January 12, 2018 For the past month, a physiotherapy center in Syria’s northwest Idlib province has been training 19 war-wounded men and boys to establish a football team. © AFP / OMAR HAJ KADOUR“Life doesn’t stop at an injury. Don’t lose hope or get sad at losing a limb,” he adds.“As our trainers told us today, there’s no handicap of the body — just of the mind.”Still, war is never far away. On Saturday, one trainee player was killed in a bomb blast in Idlib city.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)last_img read more

  • Health care shabby for all

    first_img Blacks and Hispanics as a group each got 58 percent of the best care, compared with 54 percent for whites. Those with annual household income over $50,000 got 57 percent, 4 points more than people from households with income of less than $15,000. Patients without insurance got 54 percent of recommended steps, just 1 point less than those with managed care. As to gender, women came out slightly ahead with 57 percent, compared with 52 percent for men. Young adults did slightly better than the elderly. There were narrow snapshots of inequality: An insured white woman, for example, got 57 percent of the best standard of care, while an uninsured black man got just 51 percent. “Though we are improving, disparities in health care still exist,” said Dr. Garth Graham, director of the U.S. Office of Minority Health. Graham, who is black, pointed to other data showing enduring inequality in care, including a large federal study last year. He also said minorities go without treatment more often than whites, and such people were missed entirely in the survey. Some experts took heart in the relative equality within the survey. “The study did find some reassuring things,” said Dr. Tim Carey, who runs a health service research center at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. But all health experts interviewed fretted about the uniformly low standard. “Regardless of who you are or what group you’re in, there is a significant gap between the care you deserve and the care you receive,” said Dr. Reed Tuckson, who is black and a vice president of United HealthGroup, which runs health plans and sells medical data. Health experts blame the generally poor care on an overburdened, fragmented system that fails to keep close track of patients with an increasing number of multiple conditions. Quality specialists said improvements can come with more public reporting of performance, more uniform training, more computerized checks and more coordination by patients themselves. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! BOSTON – Startling research from the biggest study ever of U.S. health care quality suggests that Americans – rich, poor, black, white – get roughly equal treatment, but it’s woefully mediocre for all. “This study shows that health care has equal-opportunity defects,” said Dr. Donald Berwick, who runs the nonprofit Institute for Healthcare Improvement in Cambridge, Mass. The survey of nearly 7,000 patients, reported in today’s New England Journal of Medicine, considered only urban-area dwellers who sought treatment, but it still challenged some stereotypes: The blacks and Hispanics actually got slightly better medical treatment than whites. While the California-based researchers acknowledged separate evidence that minorities fare worse in certain areas of expensive care and suffer more from some conditions than whites, their study found that once in treatment, minorities’ overall care appears similar to that of whites. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 “It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter whether you’re rich or poor, white or black, insured or uninsured,” said chief author Dr. Steven Asch at the Rand Health research institute in Santa Monica. “We all get equally mediocre care.” The researchers, who included U.S. Veterans Affairs personnel, first published their findings for the general population in June 2003. They reported the breakdown by income, racial and other groupings on Thursday. They examined medical records and phone interviews from 6,712 patients, picked at random, who visited a medical office within a two-year period in 12 metropolitan areas from Boston to Miami to Seattle. The group was not nationally representative but does convey a broad picture of the country’s health care. The survey examined whether people got the highest standard of treatment for 439 measures ranging across common chronic and acute conditions and disease prevention. It looked at whether they got the right tests, drugs and treatments. Overall, patients received only 55 percent of recommended steps for top-quality care – and no group did much better or worse than that. last_img read more