The Earthquake Experience for Christchurch's Disabled Refugees and Migrants

The Disability Rights Commissioner, Paul Gibson, says Christchurch's Refugee and Migrant communities who are also living with disabilities are struggling more than many realise in the aftermath of the quakes.

The Human Rights Commission convened a workshop to listen to their stories and to help develop an Earthquake Recovery Plan for all Christchurch people with disabilities.

Our South Island producer, Katy Gosset, joined the delegates and heard their ideas for the city's future. 

These thoughts will feed into a Disabled Persons Recovery Programme to be written by Ruth Jones of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's Community Forum.

She says the programme, funded by the Canterbury District Health Board, will urge community leaders and local authorities to involve the Disabled Community in all aspects of decision making and should bring greater awareness of the many challenges the disability community is facing in post-earthquake Christchurch.

LSVT-BIG Therapy for Parkinsons Disease

Katy Gosset drops in on a physical therapy session with Jimmy Jagit Dillon who has Parkinsons Disease.

The 71-year-old first noticed the symptoms of the disease three years ago. Since then he's taken his own small steps to retain feeling and movement in his muscles and to keep up basic skills such as writing and cutting up food.

However his latest step is a big one. Jimmy is thought to be the first person in New Zealand to trial a physical therapy technique called LSVT- BIG.

The programme was adapted from the Lee Silverman Voice Therapy technique known as LSVT-LOUD which is used by speech therapists to help patients with Parkinson's disease. Sufferers often speak quietly and the programme aims to improve their articulation and volume. LSVT-BIG uses the same idea, but instead of amplifying their voices, Parkinsons patients are encouraged to amplify their movements.

A Christchurch physiotherapist, Tara Martin, decided to offer the treatment in New Zealand, after becoming frustrated that she couldn't do more to help Parkinsons patients.

Tara took Jimmy through a four-week intensive programme in his own home. He is now reporting greater speed in performing basic functions such as buttoning his shirts and putting on his watch strap. He has also noticed improvements in his ability to complete more than one task at the same time.

Produced by Katy Gosset for Radio New Zealand