When Miss Wendy Ng was still in school, her grandmother suffered a stroke that caused permanent physical impairment. Miss Ng recalls the amount of effort it took her father to move her grandmother from a chair to her bed.

When her grandmother went for treatment at the hospital, a physiotherapist worked with her to improve her mobility. That experience sparked Miss Ng’s interest in the profession, and she later applied for a SingHealth scholarship to do a four-year course in physiotherapy.

Since her graduation in 2008, she has been working at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), one of the institutions under the SingHealth Group, handling mainly paediatric and adult orthopaedic cases.

In the area of paediatrics, Miss Ng works with young patients to maintain or restore physical movement that has been impaired by pain or injury. The aim is to bring their mobility levels as close to the original state as possible.

One of the ways to do so is through hydrotherapy, which involves exercising in the water. This form of treatment is useful for both adult and child patients, who require decreased pressure on their joints.

Lasting about 30 minutes per session, this form of water-based exercise is beneficial for a varied range of musculoskeletal and neurological conditions.

Miss Ng finds great joy in working with children. “They are very truthful and have adorable personalities,” she says. “You can tell instantly when they are happy or sad.”

However, it is also a challenge dealing with young patients because in many cases, they may not understand why they need to do the exercises. Miss Ng thus has to explore different treatment approaches and try to add an element of fun to the therapy sessions.

Indeed, when the children are doing their exercises and enjoying themselves at the same time, their smiles and peals of laughter give her a great sense of satisfaction.

Changing lives

In her three years as a physiotherapist, Miss Ng has had the opportunity to treat a wide spectrum of patients — from young children, adolescents to senior citizens.

She remembers two patients fondly. One was a four-year-old boy who had been born with club feet, a condition where the child’s feet are structurally deformed.

The boy had never learned to walk properly. He had surgery to correct the problem, followed by intensive physiotherapy. After several sessions, he managed to walk perfectly and his mother was overjoyed. When he ran for the first time, she was thrilled.

The other patient was a woman who had end-stage cervical cancer. Miss Ng met her daily to help her get out of bed and do a bit of walking. One day, she asked the patient what she wanted to do and she replied that she simply wanted to be out in the sunlight.

She discussed her request with the patient’s doctors and arranged for her to walk in the garden. The patient was elated to have her wish fulfilled.

She says: “As a clinician, it is always important to remember the human touch. Even small victories spur us on to go that extra mile for our patients. Physiotherapy involves hard work but if you are passionate about helping people, this is definitely a profession for you.”