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Rehabilitation Centers Set up for Quake Victims

Every inch he bent down, caused Liu Chang pain. He sat on a hospital bed doing rehabilitative exercises after losing both of his legs in the May 12 earthquake in China.

"It is tiring, but I feel comfortable after practice," said the 22-year-old man.

For five days, Liu was trapped under a cement board in Beichuan county of the southwestern Sichuan Province, one of the worst hit areas. One leg was fully amputated and the other was cut off at the thigh.

Liu is among some 370,000 injured in the earthquake. Thousands still face a long healing process.

Liu's muscles are weak after a long time in bed. Rehabilitation doctors at the Sichuan Renmin Hospital in the provincial capital of Chengdu designed a recovery plan for him. It includes daily exercise.

One month ago, Liu managed to sit up on his own. Today, he can stand- up with crutches for a short time.

"I am waiting for a pair of good artificial legs. The hospital has ordered them for me," Liu said. "I need to improve my waist strength before I use them, but I am confident of standing and walking again with help from my doctors, family and friends."

In Sichuan, about 7,400 people still need physical therapy like Liu. Some are in hospitals others recover at home.

"The health authority has set up a medical file and monitors service to every one of the injured ," said Zhao Wanhua, deputy director of the provincial health department. "They were rescued and survived. Now we will have them stand up and live a good life."

By the end of this year, Zhao said all victims will get free medical treatment, wheelchairs and artificial limbs.

So far, 158 amputees received artificial limbs. 341 people are now equipped with assistive devices, Zhao said.

The health department also planned to set up rehabilitation centers for the injured.

"The provincial and city hospitals have better doctors and resources than lower level facilities. Some hospitals are good in rehabilitation and some are not," said Zhao.

Three provincial centers with 300 beds were founded in Chengdu to treat the most seriously injured. Six quake-hit cities have sub-centers and 44 counties have therapy branches for patients.

In addition, about 100 rehabilitation experts from all over China are now working in Sichuan.

Money has also been spent to help quake victims restart their lives in other ways. For example, in June, The Sichuan Disabled Persons Foundation pledged 2 million yuan (US$293,000) annually for three years to help the disabled start their own businesses.

The government also announced, in May, that employers would get tax cuts or subsidies if they hired disabled quake victims.

(Xinhua News Agency September 9, 2008)

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