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ADVANCE Perspective: Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine

PTs Will be Urgently Needed in Haiti

Published January 25, 2010 2:49 PM by Lisa Lombardo
Volunteer medical professionals who are working round-the-clock in Haiti managing a now overabundance of doctors are reporting a new, urgent need: For physical therapists and PT assistants, rehab nurses and aides.

According to a Jan. 25 story on CNN.com, thousands of amputees will need significant, specialized help from physical therapists, but few are available.

Doctors who want to assist those severely injured in the earthquake-ravages nation are being encouraged to stay home and wait a few months before enlisting a volunteer effort. But PTs are sorely needed as so many of those who managed to survive have severe limb injuries or total limb loss.

Just as the war fronts in Iraq and Afghanistan have yielded an escalating need for care for amputees, those with severe traumatic brain injuries and head trauma, the natural disaster that left so many structures crushed and collapsed on Haitians who were rescued will likely result in ongoing care for survivors.

Physical therapists are the often most crucial line of defense in recovery efforts. Once doctors can determine which survivors will live following medical care, the rehabilitation options for these survivors could be brutally slim without necessary therapy, prosthetic aids and the qualified professionals who are trained in teaching the victims how to use them.

Therapists continually write to ADVANCE telling their stories of volunteer efforts around the globe, so I am sure there will be no shortage of willing physical therapists and PT assistants who will head to Haiti to help its people in the coming months. If you are a therapist who is thinking of joining a volunteer effort, keep us posted as to your encounters and how you were able to make a difference.

posted by Lisa Lombardo

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