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Posts Tagged ‘amputee patients’

By Gina Epifano, PT

There’s something about Haiti that gets into your heart and just won’t go away. It’s impossible to meet the people and not leave a piece of your heart behind. The only solution I have found is to keep going back!

I’ve volunteered as a physical therapist at Project Medishare three times since the earthquake, and am inspired by the transformation of the physical therapy department in one year.

Gina Epifano with Nadine who was recovering from skin graft surgery and walking for the first time!

In April of 2010, I had my first experience at Project Medishare’s Field Hospital as a PT. I spent my week in pediatrics, helping children learn to move and walk again.
Working at the tent hospital was a special experience…so many clinicians working together to save lives, doing whatever it took to get the job done. I knew I’d be back.

In June of 2010, I returned to Project Medishare, which had recently moved to new location and partnership with Hospital Bernard Mevs. The Rehabilitation Department at Hospital Project Medishare Bernard Mevs now consisted of two long-term American physical therapists. Jason Miller was beginning to develop an amputee program while Alyson Cavanaugh was creating a specialty rehabilitation program for spinal cord injury patients. They were also starting to train local Haitian rehabilitation technicians to assist in care provision. So much progress in two short months!

When returned to Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare this month, I was immediately aware of how far the Rehabilitation Department had come. I was whisked into an amputee running clinic that was being held as part of the grand unveiling of Project Medishare’s state-of-the-art Prosthetics Lab, built in partnership with Ossür and Knights of Columbus.

In September, Knights of Columbus began partnering with Project Medishare to provide every amputee children with a prosthetic limb and the physical therapy necessary to learn how to use the new limb. In addition, Jason has begun his own fundraising efforts through his website http://www.helpinghaitiamputees.com. Through the site Jason created, individuals can sponsor adult amputee patients to receive prostheses as well.

Rehabilitation department at Hospital Bernard Mevs Project Medishare. Photo courtesy of Gina Epifano.

Jeff Mcnutt, PT, has joined the long-term rehab team and manages the wound care program for both in-patients and out-patients. He continues to train local Haitian staff in appropriate wound care techniques. Locally trained technicians are now providing daily care in both out-patient PT and the Spinal Cord Injury Unit.

Project Medishare’s Rehabilitation Department has come a long way in a year, but there is still work to be done. Volunteers are still needed; supplies are still needed. Consider sharing your time and skills with our neighbors in Haiti. Maybe I’ll see you there…

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A volunteer Certified Prothestist Orthotist (CPO) begins fitting an amputee patient. CPO's come to work in the Project Medishare hospital and fit an average of 10 patients each week. Photo by Laurene Leger.

By Jennifer Browning

With Project Medishare’s Amputee Rehabilitation Program well underway, approximately 10 patients each week are fitted with a life-saving prosthetic limb. Once the patients are fitted, they are placed in a physical therapy program to help them learn how to use the new limb.

When Certified Prothestists Orthotists (CPO) fit Antoinette Macius, it was the first time she had seen this “fake leg” doctors had been telling her about. While she is still going through physical therapy to help her walk more securely, she is happy about getting fitted with her new prosthetic.

“I am happy to have my leg back again, and be able to walk with two legs,” she said. “I will be happy when I can feel that my life is getting back to normal. Once I get used to the leg, I will be able to walk my kids to school again, and be able to carry water to our house.”

Antoinette said her physical therapy involves a series of exercises, which involves a lot of stretching.

“The therapy is going well,,” she said. “I am starting to feel more and more stable and secure with [my new leg] now.”

Louna Degazon walks on her new prosthetic limb after being fitted by certified prosthetist orthotists. Photo by Laurene Leger.

Louna Degazon, who was a high school student before the earthquake hit, is also happy to be able to walk again.

“Before they fit me with the new leg, I always felt as if I was going to fall on the floor if I stood up. Now that I am learning to walk again,” Louna said, “I hope I will be able to go back to school so I can finish high school.”

Many patients, like Louna, say that even though they are happy to walk again, they still worry about the stigma that comes with being an amputee.

“I was stressed at the beginning, I know that the new leg will never be able to replace the old one, but I am getting used to my new leg now,” she said. “I am still afraid what people will say or think when they see my new leg, but with time I hope that I will get use to it all.”

To help patients with the stress, Project Medishare has hired Wilford Messine, who was one of the first patients to be fitted with his new leg. Within hours of being fitted, Messine began testing out his new leg playing soccer. He is now working with his fellow Haitians to overcome the physical and cultural obstacles of being an amputee.

Now four months after the devastating earthquake, amputee patients are finding hope. Project Medishare is keeping our promise to continue providing much needed medical care to the Haitian people drastically affected by the January earthquake. Such efforts are still in need of funding so that we can continue to help people like Antoinette and Louna.

Tomorrow is the Celebrity Amputee Gold Classic, where half of the proceeds will go to benefit Project Medishare’s Haitian Amputee Rehabilitation Program. For more information about the tournament click here.

If you would like to personally help Project Medishare continue our efforts in Haiti, click here to make a tax-deductible donation.

*Laurene Leger contributed to this story.

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By Jennifer Browning

Shortly after the January 12 earthquake, Spencer’s joined forces with Delta Apparel, Next Level Apparel, and T-shirt Central and offered 10,000 T-shirts in varying styles for sale to raise money for Project Medishare. Spencer’s store associated offered these shirt to every guest for a suggested donation amount of $10, $5, or $1 and raised over $38,000–all which is being donated to Project Medishare’s earthquake relief efforts.

Spencer’s donations will allow Project Medishare to supply an additional 76 patients with a new prosthetic limb.

“It is an incredible sight to see these children and adults who had lost all hope for a normal life, get back on their feet again and walk out of our hospital,” Jenna Green, Project Medishare’s Director of Development said. “We are so incredibly grateful for Spencer’s support and what an amazing result to your fundraising efforts.”

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