Volunteers for World Spine Care are bringing hope and healing to spine patients in under-served communities around the world.
One of our own board members, Dr. Scott Haldeman, is the co-founder of the foundation. We asked him what his medical teams have learned from running the initial pilot clinic in Botswana, and what his hopes are for the foundation in the future.
Lessons learned from Botswana clinic
In his own words, Dr. Haldeman describes what he and his volunteers have learned from their pilot clinic:
- Spinal disorders have a significant impact on people’s lives in rural communities. Most people depend on manual labor to feed their families and themselves. If their backs go out, it’s possible their families will starve.
- Spinal disorders are not being managed effectively in the communities World Spine Care has investigated, and healthcare providers in these communities are not practicing evidence based medicine.
- Patients respond better and are more interactive if you try to speak their language. They appreciate the effort no matter how bad you are at speaking.
- The same treatments and exercises are as effective in the under-served communities as they are in the developed world.
- The vast majority of spinal pain is caused by uncomplicated musculoskeletal issues that are easily resolved with manual treatments, education, and exercise.
- It is necessary to adapt exercise and education programs to the culture. For example, we used yoga in India rather than the Straighten Up program. In Botswana, we turned the Straighten Up program into more of a dance.
- There is an endless amount of work to be done. We have to be careful not to exhaust the clinicians.
- There is more serious spine pathology in these patients than is common in developed countries. Clinicians see more spinal deformity in a month than they are likely to see in a career in North America.
The pilot clinic has helped World Spine Care build a universal model of care. With this knowledge, the foundation plans to continue to expand, with the goal of training local medical providers how to run and sustain the new clinics.
How you can help
World Spine Care receives help from many different foundations. It also has the support of several industries, institutions, professional societies, and individual members and donors. If you are interested in donating, please contact World Spine Care at http://www.worldspinecare.org/take-action/donate/.