ROSEMONT, Ill., July 21, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Volunteers from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) returned to Vietnam again this year to provide corrective surgery for children and adults with lower extremity deformities and disabilities. For four weeks in June, AOFAS volunteers traveled to hospitals and rehab centers in Hanoi and the northern provinces of Vietnam, treating patients and working with local orthopaedic surgeons.
This year's volunteer group evaluated more than 212 patients in clinics and performed surgery on 79, all at no cost to the patients. Since the first AOFAS Overseas Outreach Project to Vietnam in 2002, more than 1,100 patients have benefited from surgery performed without charge by AOFAS volunteers, and more than 2,600 patients have been seen in the clinics. Many patients are from impoverished areas and lack access to care. Others are unable to afford advanced medical services.
"The patients and families were so grateful for our care, and the Vietnamese surgeons were eager to learn from us," said volunteer Aaron Guyer, MD, of Tallahassee, Fla. "I am always amazed at what can be accomplished with the limited resources physicians there have available."
Scope of Volunteer Work
Patients with untreated congenital deformities are common in the clinics and have a range of challenging problems not often seen in the United States. Volunteers used basic orthopaedic principles to accomplish specific surgical goals because many of the implants, instruments and imaging tests used in the United States for diagnosing and treating orthopedic foot and ankle problems are not available in Vietnam. However, some hospital conditions have improved over the years.
"This was my second visit to the Orthopedic Rehabilitation Center in Thai Nguyen and the nationally famous Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi," said Naren Gurbani, MD, FACS, of Downey, Calif. "I was impressed by structural improvements in operating room lighting and flooring. More importantly, as with previous years, the OR staffs were welcoming, dedicated and always ready to participate, and always on time."
The AOFAS surgeons volunteered their time and paid for their own travel to Vietnam. In-country expenses were supported by the AOFAS Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Outreach & Education Fund with charitable donations from individuals and industry. This was the 13th annual project sponsored by the AOFAS and its partner organization, Mobility Outreach International, formerly known as the Prosthetics Outreach Foundation.
During the month-long project, which ended in mid-June, the volunteers worked at orthopaedic rehab centers in Hanoi, Thai Nguyen, Vinh City and Yen Bai. They also worked with residents at Viet Duc Hospital in Hanoi. In addition to Guyer and Gurbani, the AOFAS volunteers included Angus McBryde, MD, Columbia, S.C.; Minoo Hollis, MD, Navarre, Fla.; L. Daniel Latt, MD, PhD, Tucson, Ariz.; and Naomi Shields, MD, Wichita, Kan.
Education is an important part of the outreach project, and the AOFAS volunteers presented at the annual educational conference on Surgery of the Lower Extremities held on June 7 in Hanoi. Co-sponsored by the AOFAS, Mobility Outreach International and Viet Duc Hospital, the conference utilized simultaneous translation and was attended by 125 Vietnamese orthopaedic surgeons. The AOFAS volunteers also presented at smaller seminars in the hospitals where they worked.
About the AOFAS
The AOFAS promotes quality, ethical and cost-effective patient care through education, research and training of orthopaedic surgeons and other health care providers. The Society creates public awareness for the prevention and treatment of foot and ankle disorders, provides leadership, and serves as a resource for government and industry as well as the national and international health care communities.
Mobility Outreach International is a Seattle-based leader in orthopedic rehabilitation in developing countries. MOI seeks to ensure that children and adults with limb loss or limb deformities have access to high-quality orthopedic and physical rehabilitation services so they can enjoy lifelong mobility. MOI staffers support developing countries in their effort to provide prosthetic care, orthopaedic surgeries and treatment for children with clubfoot through hands-on teaching and training.
About Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Surgeons
Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons are medical doctors (MD and DO) who specialize in the diagnosis, care and treatment of patients with disorders of the musculoskeletal system of the foot and ankle. Orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons use medical, physical and rehabilitative methods as well as surgery to treat patients of all ages. Relying on four years of medical school training, five years of post-graduate training and often a fellowship in foot and ankle care, orthopaedic foot and ankle surgeons perform reconstructive procedures, treat sports injuries, and manage and treat trauma of the foot and ankle.
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SOURCE American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society