Stroke survivor gives free physio to the poor

The survivor of a stroke is providing the poor with free physiotherapy, a medical service government has failed to avail to the needy. NELSON SIBANDA reports.


Bigboy Madzivanzira, 46, is a trained Medical Rehabilitation Technician with a calling. He identifies needy people, visits their homes and assess their disabilities before providing them with necessary physiotherapy to make their lives bearable again.

If need be, he provides them with wheelchairs and walking aids such as crutches. The beneficiaries of his help are mainly from urban high density suburbs and rural communities.

Madzivanzira, who is the only physiotherapist holding the advanced certificate in wheelchairs and seating studies in the country, said he had a calling to assist less-privileged handicapped people.


“I will do everything possible to ensure that health conditions of those in poor communities do not deteriorate further due to their failure to access physiotherapy. My free home-based physiotherapy covers medical assessments, exercises, therapy and provision of walking aids if need be,” said Madzivanzira, pointing out that his goodwill has saved hundreds of patients whose disabilities could otherwise have deteriorated.

He is the founder of the Health Promotion Clinic Trust and also works with other organisations such as Mwana Africa of Mutare and Zimbabwe Parents of Children with disabilities.

These organisations invite him to conduct assessments on economically disempowered patients. He also provides child counselling and development services.

In light of the liquidity crunch taking its toll across all social classes in the country, Madzivanzira negotiates affordable fees with those patients who can afford to pay.

“In most cases the economically better placed patients provide transport to enable me travel to their homes,” said Madzivanzira.

Good Samaritans often offer to foot therapy bills for the marginalised. Madzivanzira urged parents with children in need of physiotherapy to visit government rehabilitation centres for advice. These health institutions would refer the patients to him if there was need for advanced therapy.

Free wheelchairs

To help children living with disabilities get accommodated at schools, Madzivanzira assists schools to design chairs for use by children with special seating requirements.

He is regularly invited to give lectures on diseases such as stroke and other disabilities at church services. A strong believer in knowledge sharing, Madzivanzira trains community nurse aids and equips them with rehabilitation skills.

Poor families without means to purchase wheelchairs are urged to contact him for assistance. If the specific walking aids required are not in stock he will help to source them from donors.

According to Madzivanzira, a wrong wheelchair might worsen the beneficiary’s degree of disability, since a wheelchair is a prescriptive item. He therefore cautioned parents to seek specialist recommendations before allocating wheelchairs to children. Without a proper prescription a wheelchair can even cause deformity.

Last year alone Madzivanzira donated some 300 wheelchairs sourced from Motivation UK.

Miracle worker

Obedience Chikaka, 25, of Budiriro in Harare, said he survived a stroke in South Africa in 2011 and was bed-ridden for years before he met Madzivanzira back in Zimbabwe. “I was fortunate to benefit from Madzivanzira’s free physiotherapy. In less than a year I got off the wheelchair and was able to walk without aids,” testified Chikaka

Beauty Tinarwo, the wife of stroke survivor Cleopas Tinarwo, described Madzivanzira as one of the most dedicated physiotherapists around.

“Though we paid a minimal fee for the physiotherapy, Madzivanzira performed miracles on my husband. He suffered the stroke on July 12, 2014 and was admitted in hospital for six days. Madzivanzira attended to him for five consecutive days and later three days per week, until he (Leopas) got off the wheel chair last Monday,” said Mrs Tinarwo, wondering what would have become of her husband if Madzivanzira had not come into their lives.

She said some stroke patients would take over six months to recover but the ‘Madzivanzira miracle was too effective to believe’. In recognition of Madzivanzira’s skill, several international institutions have invited him to give presentations at various fora. He was invited to the Eastern Cape in South Africa to help evaluate wheelchairs for specific categories of people living with disabilities.

India invited him to be part of a team formulating wheelchair guidelines for developing nations, and he is a reviewer of the World Health Organisation manual for wheelchair training.

At the Tanzania 2007 Wheelchair Congress, he presented a paper on Zimbabwean legislation on disabilities. In 2009, Madzivanzira made a presentation in Zimbabwe on the country’s Supportive Seating for Children with Disabilities.

He is a regular presenter at the University of Zimbabwe’s Department of Occupational and Physiotherapy, and has also trained rehabilitation and wheelchair technicians in Matabeleland on wheelchair assembly.

Zimbabwe has ratified the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and as a nation it is expected to fulfil its obligation and embrace basic principles as stipulated in the convention to enable an inclusive society.

Section 25 of the Convention states that: “State parties should recognise that people with disabilities have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health and have access to health services including health related rehabilitation.”

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