Sister Francis DeSales Provancher on Physical Therapy Treatments, 1998

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Sister Francis DeSales Provancher on Physical Therapy Treatments, 1998


Sister Francis DeSales Provancher




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Carville, LA - Hansen's Disease Center, RG 11-2-8-4, Audio-visual, Carville - Sister Francis DeSales Provancher interview, Box 48, Folder 5

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Sr. Francis DeSales: “They put up a big— In the museum, they put up a big counter like this with windows, you know, and they had in there all different instruments that physical therapy had indented, and one with a handle on a big fork and a spoon so they could eat decently. Otherwise they couldn’t hold on to anything.”
Interviewer: “Yeah, we have pictures of some of those in the collection. There’s one that kind of attaches to your wrist...”
Sr. Francis DeSales: “That’s right.”
Interviewer: “...It’s like a screen that goes like this and attaches to your wrist, and the idea is that you put your hands around it like this, and they strengthen your fingers that way.”
Sr. Francis: “Yeah we had some wonderful-- Well, when I first went they did not have physical therapy.”
Interviewer: “No?”
Sr. Francis DeSales: “No! They didn’t have physical therapy. They had occupational therapy-- well they had a tiny little form of physical therapy. Excuse me– now, I remember now. They had a room and the patients used to go in there to have ultrasound and different treatments. But of course then it became very modernized and they hired physical therapists-- actual physical therapists, because before that the patients used to help with the physical therapy, but then they went to all regular people that were already trained.”
Interviewer: “Did they– Was physical therapy something made specifically for patients who had Hansen’s disease or was it-- Did they need the same kind of physical therapy that regular people needed? I mean, were there certain things that helped the Hansen’s disease person better?”
Sr. Francis DeSales: “Well, they tried everything. Some– some had heat, but the heat brought out more leprosy and– they did have other instruments, you know, that they could sort of work on and try to get their hands working.”
Interviewer: “So it was specific to patients who had lost their hands...”
Sr. Francis DeSales: “Yea the hands...
Interviewer: “...due to the disease.”
Sr. Francis DeSales: “...and their feet but of course they couldn’t do much about the feet, but...”
Interviewer: “Were there things they could do before this happened? Like to prevent it?”
Sr. Francis DeSales: “Well some of them had careers when they came in...”
Interviewer: “No, I mean, I mean as far as therapy. Like say a person had the illness already, did they have any kind of preventive physical therapy to keep them from progressing more or losing more use of their hands and feet?”
Sr. Francis DeSales: “They tried to, but if they had the disease, you know, for a long time it would be ineffective. But some of them got better, you know, with that especially if they were young people. But the older ones, it had already taken hold of them, you see, so they couldn’t– you couldn’t help learning to love them.
Sr. Laura loved them, and Sr. Hilary. Those two were very modeled. They were real models for me. So Hilary would do blood sugars on the patients that she knew she knew had diabetes even though the doctors wouldn’t order it for months, and she would make sure that they had that report on their charts. She was really a doctor, I’d say. She was magnificent.



Sister Francis DeSales Provancher, “Sister Francis DeSales Provancher on Physical Therapy Treatments, 1998,” Daughters of Charity, Province of St. Louise Archives, accessed March 4, 2024,