How to Be a Rock Star

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By Paul Prusakowski, CPO, FAAOP

Last weekend I was thinking about some of the most notable humanitarian aid awareness initiatives that have occurred over the last few decades. Farm Aid, Live Aid, and USA for Africa are just a few that came to mind quickly. I remember watching all the big rock stars on TV, some reuniting long-lost bands just to sing a few songs for the betterment of mankind. My guess is that many of the people watching these events on TV probably felt as distant and isolated from the problem or being part of the solution as I did. That still didn't stop me from being psyched to see Ozzy reunite with Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin play on stage for a few songs!

It is striking that it took these events with a full array of multi-millionaire celebrities who got on stage, sang a few songs, said a few words, and shed a few tears to raise global awareness of real issues that are affecting real people all around the world. So how in the world is a regular person going to do anything that can make a real difference? The solution is to become an O&P rock star. Skip all the fancy fanfare, skip all the wild all-night parties (well, not all of them), forget the groupies, long hair, loud music, and tour buses and absolutely forget about being a millionaire but jump directly to rock-star status by making a real difference for real people by directly assisting one of the many organizations that are providing O&P services to those in need around the world.

There's an entire community of O&P rock stars doing their work throughout the world by training local practitioners how to provide for their communities and setting up sustainable local O&P facilities.
There's an entire community of O&P rock stars doing their work throughout the world by training local practitioners how to provide for their communities and setting up sustainable local O&P facilities.

In this ultra-niche medical specialty we are in, we cannot deny the fact that there are thousands of people in need of our services, and many more who need training to provide O&P services around the world. Landmines, disease, government neglect, poverty, violence, and hostility are just some of the perpetual problems of this world that create a constant need for O&P services. While Bono and Bob Geldof are solving other world problems, there's an entire community of O&P rock stars doing their work throughout the world by training local practitioners how to provide for their communities and setting up sustainable local O&P facilities to serve the needs of third-world communities. Still others are traveling to provide direct hands-on care for patients in poverty-stricken or war-torn areas. These people are just like us, clinicians first, and maybe business owners, employees, or educators second. We all know at least one of them through school, meetings, or the OANDP-L listserv. The connection we have and the impact we can have is much closer than we sometimes think.

There are a lot of ways that we can be involved. Even without leaving the United States, we can help some of the efforts by donating used componentry to organizations that will recycle parts. And those who do travel abroad can share more of their experiences with the rest of us through the OANDP-L listserv to let us know what else we can do to help. The Humanitarian Database found at www.drfop.org is a centralized resource for all nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) providing O&P services around the world. Be sure to check it out to see how you can contribute.

For those about to rock, we salute you!

Paul E. Prusakowski, CPO, FAAOP, practices at his company, Gainesville Prosthetics, Gainesville, Florida. He also is president and founder of oandp.com.