Mum digs pit on Aksa beach daily for physically challenged baby's hot sand therapy

Updated: Dec 07, 2016, 13:28 IST | Mamta Padia

Moving! A mother regularly makes her physically challenged child sit inside 2-feet deep pit on Mumbai's Aksa shore every day in the hope he will finally be able to walk

Will my son ever be able to walk?
Pratibha Joshi with her son Vansh at Aksa Beach in Malad. Pic/Shadab Khan

Even as revellers frequent Mumbai’s beaches for a cool dip, a mother spends her time daily at Malad’s Aksa beach, digging a two-feet-deep pit for her toddler. One would assume that the mother is indulging her kid with some good-old sand-digging game. But, Pratibha Joshi, who makes her two-year-old sit in the pit for hours together, says she is only trying to get her child to walk.

According to Joshi, her son Vansh feels no sensation in his feet. After medical intervention didn’t help, a medical expert at KEM Hospital advised her to try hot sand therapy, she said.

Joshi suffered several complications during childbirth due to which she had a vacuum-assisted delivery. The procedure, she said, impacted Vansh’s mental development. "He was placed in an incubator for seven days after his birth, and another 22 days in the ICU," said Joshi. As a three-month-old, he wasn’t able to respond to stimuli. "His gaze would always be locked on the ceiling," the mother added.

At Wadia Children’s Hospital, doctors warned the parents that Vansh, who is unable to walk, also suffers from frequent fits, and needed regular physiotherapy. Twice a week, Vansh is taken for physiotherapy sessions and vision-improvement exercises to a school for the disabled, run by the Muskaan Foundation in Charkop. But, Joshi said the treatment is proving expensive for the family. "My husband earns only around Rs. 8,000. How does one juggle livelihood with my son’s medical treatment?"

Following the advice of a doctor at KEM Hospital, Joshi said she has been religiously bringing her son to Aksa beach, where she digs a pit and makes him sit for nearly two hours. "Hawkers who frequent the beach have told me that another mother would bring her child for similar therapy here. After over a year of sand therapy, her child began to walk again," she says, adding, "This story gives me hope."

When mid-day asked Dr Paras Kothari, paediatric surgeon from BMC-run Sion Hospital, about the effectiveness of this therapy, he said, "I can comment on the case only after checking the patient’s records."

The ultimate hot tub?
Sand therapy is popular in West Asia, especially among Egyptians. In the height of summer, people usually bury themselves up to their necks for desert sand baths. It is said to be a natural remedy to cure everything from rheumatism, joint pain and infertility to impotence.

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