Dr Sonata Saulyte Trakymiene: Gaining and sharing knowledge across borders

For Dr Sonata Saulyte Trakymiene, providing the best care to people with haemophilia is an ongoing process: “Despite quite good prophylaxis in Lithuania, people with haemophilia did not feel able to be physically active, they were afraid to impair their health by doing something wrong or not recommended for haemophilia patients,” she explains.

Dr Trakymiene and the patient organisation knew the solution was to establish a physiotherapy service tailored to the needs of people with haemophilia. How to achieve this with limited resources within Lithuania was the challenge they needed to address. “We knew what we would like to improve in haemophilia care, however we did not have ideas how to start and be brave with physiotherapy for our patients. That’s when we decided to use our contacts to reach out to experts beyond Lithuania.”

Multi-international collaboration

This marked the beginning of an international collaboration that started with physiotherapists and a psychologist being trained at the SickKids Hospital in Canada. Physiotherapists Piet de Kleijn, Natasa Jankovic and Prof Adly Sabbour from the Netherlands, Serbia and Egypt joined the expert team, providing guidance and on-site training in Lithuania.

Having seen the benefits of sharing expertise across borders, the project team went on to create a north-eastern European network encompassing seven countries across the region. Dr Trakymiene and members of the project team passed on the knowledge they gained to this international group of healthcare professionals through regional symposia and the creation of a joint resolution on physiotherapy for people with haemophilia.

Inspiration for personal and professional growth

Within Lithuania, Dr Trakymiene is seeing the impact of these efforts: “A lot of people with haemophilia, who were not very active physically, finally became engaged and motivated to do physical activity. Physiotherapy is now in our routine regular services for haemophilia patients that helps to evaluate treatment outcomes.”

Beyond the health benefits for people with haemophilia, Dr Trakymiene’s story is one of personal growth, inspiring her to continue to strive for the best outcomes for the haemophilia community: “Through these NNHF projects I grew as a haemophilia care provider, they helped me understand my patients more deeply and develop very tight contacts, that always helps to fight all obstacles in our way when trying to improve haemophilia care in our country. I also met so many wonderful people dedicated to haemophilia care who inspired me so much and I still have warmest memories from these projects days.”