Where to Begin?

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By Karen Henry

In this issue we take a look at O&P and humanitarian and education efforts in developing countries around the world. On the surface, this seems cut-and-dried enough, but when we dug a little deeper, we started asking ourselves, "Where to begin?"

According to the Landmine Survivors Network (LSN), approximately 18,000 people (an average of 49 people per day) are killed or maimed by landmines every year, and fewer than 10 percent of those victims have access to proper medical care and rehabilitation services. That number does not include the thousands of casualties that go unreported because victims are in remote areas where they do not have access to assistance or a means of communication. It also does not take into account the myriad of other world problems that result in the need for O&P care-poverty, poor healthcare, disasters, war, and other forms of violence.

Every victim, every survivor, has a story, and for survivors their stories may also include others who reached out to that person in his or her time of need to help facilitate access to medical and rehabilitative care. A quick scan of the O&P Humanitarian Database of the Digital Resource Foundation for the O&P Community (DRFOP) reveals more than 30 organizations or projects that have as part of their service offering providing O&P devices or care to amputees in developing countries across the globe. A number of organizations go a step beyond providing care-some also provide critical training and education in populations where there aren't enough O&P practitioners to serve the need.

While there's no way to tell every story, we have focused on a few to give you a taste of the amazing efforts being undertaken by organizations and practitioners to address the global need for O&P care and education programs, as well as some of the people who have benefited from those efforts.

Sherry Metzger provides an overview of some of the projects that Rotary clubs and districts have helped to facilitate, including a focus on the LN-4 Prosthetic Hand Project ; Brady Delander takes a look at Clear Path International (CPI), a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to serving survivors of unexploded ordnance; and Miki Fairley explores the role that the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) is playing in raising the standard for O&P education programs in developing countries.

For those looking for something on the technology side, check out the robotic tendon' prosthesis currently in development that is expected to provide functionality with enhanced ankle motion and push-off power comparable to that of an able-bodied person, and the new hand and partial-hand solution that is now available, which looks and acts like a real human hand.

We're also introducing a new department-and a new writer-in this issue. Ronald Roiz, MSPO, just started his residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC), Illinois, and will be providing the O&P community with a look into his experiences as he completes his residency.

Karen Henry
Editor, The O&P EDGE