Clinic in Rio helps stroke victims caused by fear of gun violence

World Today

Gun violence in some of Rio de Janeiro’s poorest neighborhoods happens seemingly on a daily basis. What may be surprising is that many people who are hurt are not actually shot. But they are victims nonetheless.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco explains.Follow Lucrecia C. Franco on Twitter @LucreciaFranco

Every day in Rio de Janeiro, there are an average of 16 shootouts between drug gangs and the police, according to an Amnesty International app that tracks gun violence in the city. Most happen in the Complexo do Alemao, a group of more than a dozen favelas, or slums, located in Rio’s north zone and home to some 70,000 people.

A former Alemao resident, Monica Cirne is the only physiotherapist that treats the favelas’ victims, and she does it for free, with the help of volunteers.    

“I get many people wounded by fire arms, but the vast majority are stroke victims caused by stress, fear, tension and anxiety, all because of the violence,” Monica says. She is the founder of the “Movement and Life Institute” NGO, a clinic that helps people regain mobility.

“I had a stroke followed by a heart attack, and I think it is because of what I see – a lot of violence,” a patient says.

The clinic opens twice a week and has all the necessary equipment to treat a range of ailments, from paralysis to neurological disorders.

But the number of people seeking rehabilitation at the clinic is growing as violence is on the rise, and so is the suffering that it causes.

According to data from Amnesty International, there were nearly 6,000 shootouts in Rio last year. Almost 800 people were killed and hundreds wounded.

“Since last year, the number of patients increased by 60 percent, and I don’t know what to do,” Monica says. “I have more than a hundred people on the waiting list.”

For now, Monica is giving priority to those who are in the worst shape but with no money from the government and having to rely on donations.