RESOURCES

Upper limb prosthetic services post Haiti earthquake


Upper limb prosthetic services post Haiti earthquake

From "MEC 11 Raising the Standard," Proceedings of the 2011 MyoElectric Controls/Powered Prosthetics Symposium Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada: August 14-19, 2011


We present here the early results of the upper limb amputation program provided by Healing Hands for Haiti and Handicap International, in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.
The International Society of Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have estimated that people needing prostheses or orthotics and related services represent 0.5% of the population in developing countries. In pre-earthquake Haiti, there was a paucity of data available on persons with amputations, although it was recognized that the services available were not sufficient to meet the needs of the population. In one survey, the most common cause of amputation was infection, followed by motor vehicle accidents, and only 25% of persons had received prosthetic rehabilitation.
At the time of the earthquake, Healing Hands for Haiti (HHH) operated the only full time prosthetics and orthotics laboratory, with on-site rehabilitation therapy and medical services. Six technicians had been trained in apprenticeship format through visiting expatriate CPOs, and by December 2009 participation in a credentialed training program through Don Bosco University in El Salvador was in the process of being finalized through a collaborative effort of Healing Hands, Physicians for Peace and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Early after the earthquake estimates of over 2000 persons newly amputated as a result of injuries and secondary complications, coupled with significant media attention, led to an unprecedented international response, with over 20 organizations pledging support for prosthetic services. Coordination of these actors represented significant challenges, and many groups did not seek to collaborate with the World Health designated leads for Rehabilitation, or with those providers already operating in the country pre-earthquake. This led to many types of fabrication techniques, prosthetic components and service delivery models, including some that functioned exclusive of any national provider.