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La Pradera: Restoring body and mind

La praderaThe intensive, comprehensive rehabilitation services for children and adults offered to visitors from abroad, are the central focus of the La Pradera International Health Center, located west of Havana, specializing in supporting patients recovering from neurological damage, heart attacks, orthopedic problems, and hearing or language disorders, among other health issues.

The clinic features personalized service provided by highly qualified professionals with a wealth of experience in their fields, offering hydrotherapy and sauna, massage, natural-traditional medicine, podiatry, exercise programs, as well therapies based on play and horseback riding, and those using paraffin, magnets, and heat, along with various medical treatments that require advanced technology.

Dr. Jenry Carreño Cuador, center director, informed Granma International, that over its 20 years of existence, the institution has treated some 70,800 patients from 112 nations in different programs, in accordance with their specific needs or as expressly requested of the Center.

He mentioned quality of life programs; those directed toward supporting patients with osteoporosis; others designed for older adults; and those for individuals suffering respiratory ailments caused by exposure to toxic substances, principally in mines.

Likewise offered are anti-stress treatments; others for menopausal women; weight loss programs; and health plans for high performance athletes who have retired from professional sports but want to continue an active life, and appreciate the tranquil environment at La Pradera, far from the sensationalist press.

Also available is rehabilitation for patients who have received cochlear implants, with an emphasis on children and therapeutic procedures.

“As a result of outcomes in this area, in February of 2016, we received

the World of Hope award granted by the International Special Education Association,” Dr. Carreño said.

This hospital-hotel was inaugurated November 1, 1996, by Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro, and currently has a staff of some 540 workers and 152 rooms with all of the amenities needed to ensure a comfortable stay, 17 of these accessible to patients with disabilities.

The Center is distinguished by its welcoming environment, in which tranquility, order, cleanliness, light, and greenery reign. the rooms are air conditioned and equipped with cable television, hot and cold water, safes, telephones with domestic and international service, and mini-bars.

Common areas include restaurants and cafes, pools, sports fields, a store, post office, barber shop, hair salon, international pharmacy, travel agency, and special events halls for rent.


Among the portfolio of medical programs offered at La Pradera, one of the most popular is that of quality of life, focused on the prevention and early detection of disease, promoting healthy lifestyles, well-designed and directed toward reducing risk factors for chronic, non-infectious illnesses.

Physical therapist Romárico Arjona Rodríguez, explained that many older adults are interested in the Center’s program because it includes a comprehensive evaluation of the individual and recommendations for the adoption of new measures to reduce risk factors for disease, which have been shown to add years to one’s life.

Rehabilitation service providers at La Pradera work with patients who have experienced neurological damage, heart attacks, orthopedic problems, hearing loss, and language disorders, among other health issues. Photo: Jorge Luis González
The doctor added that a full clinical history of patients is made, stating, “To evaluate them, we depend on an integrated review with other specialists to reach a consensus on treatments to be administered. We develop a program, explain it to the patient to establish consent, and then initiate the first stage of treatment.”

Thus therapies begin, supported by various types of equipment, techniques, and procedures, already successfully used in Cuba’s public health system to address a variety of illnesses. Work is done in multi-disciplinary teams to share knowledge with the goal of resolving pathologies diagnosed. Natural remedies are also included to complement treatment.

Dr. Daniel Barrero O’rrelly, specialist in Natural and Traditional Medicine noted that used at the Center are acupuncture, acupressure, tai chi, cupping, moxibustion, laser therapy, herbal remedies, and a great variety of alternative and complementary treatments, practiced in Cuba under a legal framework established in the 1990s within the public health system, from the neighborhood family doctor’s office to the hospital level.

These less invasive practices reduce dependence on chemical pharmaceuticals, and improve health using natural elements such as the sun, water, light, oxygen, biological energy, cold, and heat. These concepts and practices, passed down from generation to generation, are part of universal culture.


More than 70 university trained professionals implement rehabilitation programs at the La Pradera International Health Center, some are founding veterans like

Maritza Recio Hernández, who works in the adult gymnasium as the lead specialist.

She reports that upon receiving a new patient, a rotating schedule for therapies indicated is developed, including morning and afternoon activities. Generally a cycle of 24 sessions is planned before a first complete evaluation is conducted, to determine next steps and more work in the gym if necessary.

She adds, “We interact with the patients very cordially and the relationship becomes one of friendship. I have received cases referred by neurology and orthopedics of patients who couldn’t move or be independent. We trained them with much patience, and it makes you happy to see them walk. We create a collective social environment, including companions, which is very positive for the improvement of patients.”

Another founding member of the staff is Néstor Mora Alfonso, in charge of the area, who had the privilege of personally meeting Comandante en Jefe Fidel Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who visited on several occasions. Cultural and sports figures, like Argentine football star Diego Armando Maradona, have been treated here, as well, he recalled.

Mora explained that collective exercise is promoted, along with outdoor sports, and educational games for children, offered six hours a day in different sessions.

Additionally encouraged is specialized professional development for staff to learn new therapies offered around the world.

Young staff members Tania Fajardo Vicario, Daysi Pérez Morales, and Wendy Sosa Carrero fondly recall the recoveries of their patients, mentioning in particular stories of children with motor disabilities who were very dependent on their families to carry out daily activities. The majority left the clinic walking on their own, much more social, and enthusiastic about living a full life.

Sharing her testimony was Panamanian Fatima Batista Lezcano, who had brought her 16-year-old paraplegic daughter to the clinic. She noted positive changes in the young woman’s posture, muscle control, balance, and coordination, since beginning treatment here, and described the attention received as excellent, highlighting the comprehensive approach used, with various kinds of equipment and techniques.

Offering similar opinions were Mario Daniel Ramones Vera, from Venezuela, who suffered a spinal injury during an automobile accident; Mexican Benito Mirón Lince, a high performance athlete who is recovering from injuries to the lumbar region; and Juan Sánchez Rodríguez, from Spain, who suffered a stroke.

All wished to emphasize the improvements they have noted thanks to the passion and determination of La Pradera staff, wishing them well and long careers, to continue helping people like themselves.


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