From the Field: Manila, Philippines
Written by: Michael Carroll, LCO, BSPO
Before boarding the flight to Manila, I was expecting to only see patients that were in need of new prostheses and orthoses. I was pleasantly surprised to see many patients that have not only already received their prosthesis or orthosis, but that many of them were doing so remarkably well!
Similar to some of our patients in the United States, the initial prosthesis that the patient is fit with following an amputation is only used for a brief period of time before they are fit with a more definitive prosthesis. In the Philippines patients will typically first be fit with a Jaipur prosthesis and after 6 months to a year, they will then be fit with an endoskeletal prosthetic system using components that were donated to Physicians for Peace in the United States.
The Jaipur prosthesis was originally developed by Ram Chander Sharma in 1968. It is an inexpensive, waterproof rubber-based foot made for amputees in the developing world. While functional, it remains inferior to many of the advanced carbon fiber modular-based definitive prostheses that most patients in the US are provided.
For definitive prosthetic componentry, PFP receives donations from private individuals and O&P companies in the United States. A good percentage of the donated componentry originally came from Hanger Clinic, where Chad Simpson, Kevin Carroll and I work. Many of our patients donate their old prostheses to their local Hanger Clinic which is then sent to Physicians for Peace for distribution to the Walking Free Program sites around the world.
Physicians for Peace trainer fitting Jessica for a new prosthetic leg.
It was wonderful using these donated components that have already made an impact in the United States to benefit patients in the Philippines Physicians for Peace Prosthetics Lab. During a prosthetic clinic at Philippine General Hospital we met with Jessica, a young girl that had recently undergone a hip-disarticulation level amputation due to osteosarcoma. Using donated components, we were able to cast her for a new prosthesis and fit it to her later in the afternoon allowing her to walk within a matter of hours. Truly a remarkable experience.
One of Physicians for Peace outreach initiatives in the Philippines aims to supply prosthetic legs to all physically disabled citizens who cannot afford the cost of prosthesis. This includes the essential need for rehabilitation, the establishment of a processing laboratory that sustains the continuing refitting and adjustment of the prosthesis and workforce of trained technicians through a landmark opening of a prosthetic and orthotic school in 2011.
Today, in partnership with Physicians for Peace (Philippines), Rotary & Clark Development Corporation and Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the prosthesis laboratory is now capable of producing 20 to 30 prosthesis per month. Since 2008, the lab has already given more than 400 prosthesis to indigents.
Physicians for Peace can reach those in greatest need in a country comprised of 7,000 islands. Your gift of $100 provides training or clinical supplies to ensure that people with disabilities have opportunities to be part of a larger community.