Written by: Michael Carroll, LCO, BSPO
In the Field: Manila, Philippines
When I was invited to join Physicians for Peace on a mission to the Philippines I was very excited. I knew that this would be an excellent opportunity to share my knowledge with others and to gain a perspective on a new culture. Admittedly I was a bit nervous to embark on this adventure but I knew that it was a great opportunity to make a positive impact on the world while working with an exceptional team of individuals. Kevin Carroll, Chad Simpson, and myself from Hanger Clinic, Mary Kwasniewski, Korrine Chiu, and Innes Boland from Physicians for Peace.
Prior to leaving the US my expectation was that our team would be providing oneway education to show tools and techniques that we use in the United States when fitting prostheses and orthoses to patients. I was very surprised during a tour of the Philippine General Hospital to see how advanced the Physicians for Peace Prosthetic Technicians actually are. I was more surprised to see the exceptional level of patient care that they provide to their patients during a prosthetics clinic in Quezon. One of the things that I enjoyed immensely about the opportunity was learning from the prosthetic technicians. Techniques that we use in the United States have been improved here in the Philippines. The entire allied health teams worked so well together and the skill level of the technicians was very impressive.
Following our morning clinic, we visited the University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center and toured their new Orthotics & Prosthetics building. The facility is very impressive with beautiful lab space and fitting areas which were full of students working with patients. I couldn't help smiling when I saw some of the first year prosthetics students making pelite inserts for transtibial sockets, a project identical to a one that was part of the curriculum at the O&P program I attended at St. Petersburg College in Florida. One of the things that I particularly like about the O&P and PT programs at UERM is that they are combined for the first few two years which seems like a great way to strengthen the relationship between O&P and PT professionals.
Later in the afternoon I presented on WalkAide FES to the Physical Therapy and Orthotics-Prosthetics students as well as several physicians at UERM. Their reaction to seeing the response that WalkAide provided to several stroke patients with Flaccid drop foot was awesome. The patient's foot that otherwise just hangs, is actively lifted by the tibialis anterior muscle through stimulation of the peroneal nerve in the patient's leg. Some of the students volunteered to set up a WalkAide for a patient and they got the hang of it quite rapidly. It's such a rewarding experience bringing a new treatment option to patients and their caregivers.