From the Editor: Improving Life for the Disabled

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Two major organizations at both ends of the spectrum--providers and patients--meet this month.

The International Society for Prosthetics & Orthotics (ISPO) is holding its 11th World Congress in Hong Kong August 16.

Begun in 1970 in Copenhagen, Denmark, ISPO is a multidisciplinary organization composed of persons with a professional interest in the clinical, educational, and research aspects of prosthetics, orthotics, rehabilitation engineering, and related topics. The organization now has about 2,500 members worldwide in 75 countries. Among other endeavors, it supports international orthopedic technology education and training and works to facilitate high-level uniform practice through developing adequate international standards. For more information about ISPO, visit www.ispoweb.org

The Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) meets August 57 in Nashville, Tennessee. Established in 1986, the organization has worked hard to achieve its mission: To reach out to people with limb loss and to empower them through education, support, and advocacy. The organization sensitizes healthcare professionals, the general public, and government policymakers to the issues, needs, and concerns of amputees.

The ACA provides a wealth of information to assist amputees and families. Besides its magazine, inMotion, the ACA provides educational resources, such as booklets, videotapes, and fact sheets. In cooperation with the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), the ACA operates the National Limb Loss Information Center (NLLIC). For more information, call 888.AMP.KNOW (888.267.5669) or visit www.amputee-coalition.org

Both these organizations have achieved much to benefit persons with disabilities. And as has been said, the disabled comprise the only minority group that anyone can join in an instant.

Taking Risks; Helping Others

Why do amputees pursue risky sports and other activities--even if they caused the injuries leading to amputation in the first place? This month's feature article, "Defying Death Twice: Why Amputees Take Risks" explores this aspect of the unquenchable human spirit.

Generally, in the US we aren't too worried about being hit by sniper fire, missiles, grenades, and assassination attempts as we go about our daily routine. But such is not the case in much of this war-torn world. It's good to know that many rehabilitation professionals and other caring individuals are out there trying to repair the damage people suffer from fellow humans as well as disease, hunger, and poverty. Read about how a medical team meets this challenge in "Medical Teams Can Do Spirit Aids Colombians."

We hope you enjoy this information-packed issue.