A patient in the magnetic therapy bed.
A patient in the magnetic therapy bed.

Elio Delgado Legon

HAVANA TIMES — Faced with the reality of an aging population in Cuba as a result of the increased life expectancy, which is already close to 80 years, the Ministry of Public Health decided some years ago, under the guidance of then Cuban President Fidel Castro, to establish a Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center in each of the country’s polyclinics.

Previously, such facilities only existed in specialized hospitals, which were unable to meet the demand for the service and also required the transfer of patients over long distances.

At the gym, physical therapists help you do the exercises prescribed by the doctor.
At the gym, physical therapists help you do the exercises prescribed by the doctor.

In Cuba, the polyclinic is the second stage of primary health care, in between the neighborhood family doctor’s office and secondary care at hospitals.

In each Cuban municipality there are one or more polyclinics, according to population density, which in recent times received an overhaul and expansion, including the installation of the physical therapy facilities.

A gym area.
A gym area.

In these centers, patients receive care after injures from accidents, or simply age-related conditions or disabilities, including joint swelling or pains.

Recently, as a result of some bumps that I received on my knees, from falls or other causes, and possibly also by age, I had a sinovitis in my right knee, which caused me severe pain when walking. I went to the clinic to see the physiatrist and she recommended, among other things, 10 physiotherapy sessions, which gave me the opportunity to learn first-hand about these centers.

There I received excellent care, starting with the secretary, which controls the shifts and greets patients, to each of the technicians who assisted me. I also received electrotherapy in the affected knee and magnetism in both knees. Later I would go to the gym for the required exercises to improve my condition.

Elderly improve their conditions with outdoor exercise in front of the rehabilitation center.
Elderly improve their conditions with outdoor exercise in front of the rehabilitation center.

The gym has all the equipment and technicians to oversee patients correctly doing their exercises. There I also received excellent treatment as one in a group of elderly men and women, who for various ailments of the bones should exercise consistently.

The physical therapy area has several electrotherapy apparatuses that can treat two patients each; a magnetic therapy bed, ultrasound equipment and infra-red lamps to warm the part of the patient’s body that needs it.

Comprehensive Rehabilitation Centers have even reached remote communities in the mountains so that patients do not have to travel to the city to receive their treatment, which like all health care in Cuba, is received for free.


Elio Delgado Legon

Elio Delgado-Legon: I am a Cuban who has lived for 80 years, therefore I know full well how life was before the revolution, having experienced it directly and indirectly. As a result, it hurts me to read so many aspersions cast upon a government that fights tooth and nail to provide us a better life. If it hasn’t fully been able to do so, this is because of the many obstacles that have been put in its way.

4 thoughts on “Cuba and its Physical Therapy Centers

  • I am a U.S. licensed physical therapist, specializing in treating children. I am considering traveling to Cuba for the first time this winter. I would like to partner with a clinic or child welfare agency before I go. Can anyone give me some ideas on who I should reach out to?
    Thanx!
    P.S. I speak Spanish.

  • I want to study My masters in Physiotherapy in Cuba which university I good and name

  • Looks like a facility in the “government / health” tourist part of the Cuban medical apartheid system. Can the author provide us with photos lof a facility for Cubans lets say in Santiago de Cuba?

  • Elio has an uncanny way to describe Cuba. If I hadn’t seen no less than 10 polyclinics in Havana, Cienfuegos, Camaguey, and Guantanamo with my own eyes, I would envision from his description these clinics to be cheery, brightly-lit, clean and well-equipped and well-staffed. None of the above. Elio did not mention waiting time. He did not mention how many polyclinics are now closed or operated with severely limited hours. How clean was the clinic near his home? How much did he give the doctor/nurse/receptionist in ‘propina’ to receive his ‘free’ service in a timely fashion? Nothing about leaky roofs, poorly lit rooms, and filthy bathrooms. Not a word about broken equipment and lack of supplies. The truth is that the service does exist and some service is better than no service at all. So it is not ALL bad. But, Elio, for goodness sakes, it is not at all like you portray it either.

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