June 2010

Out on a Limb: Thinking globally

Thinking globally

by Jordana Bieze Foster, Editor

There are a lot of reasons you might not want to leave the country these days. Terrorism. The economy. Language barriers. Maybe you just feel there’s no need – you can have a perfectly good vacation, and even update your professional credentials at the same time, without the hassle of renewing your passport or trying to remember where you put the darned thing.

Valid reasons, all. But one of the best things about modern technology is that we can stay in touch with what’s happening in other countries without ever having to leave home. Unfortunately, too many of us can’t be bothered to do that either. Which means more than not having anything to contribute when someone mentions the Greek economy at a cocktail party. It means missing out on research developments that could help your patients. And it means missing out on opportunities to  make a difference in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

This issue of LER offers a sample of what you might be missing.

International research presented at the International Society of Prosthetics & Orthotics meeting in Leipzig, Germany, and the International Federation of Podiatry meeting in Amsterdam, gives us new perspective on clinical issues that practitioners face every day.

Sure, you struggle with management of Charcot neuroarthropathy, just like everyone else does. You’re constantly thinking how much easier it would be if we just had a way to diagnose Charcot early, before the structural effects become irreversible. Well, researchers in Germany and the U.K. are one step ahead of you, identifying biomechanical cues that signal the onset of the Charcot process while it’s still early enough to intervene.

You know that obesity is becoming more and more common in children, and you know there is some evidence suggesting that the prevalence of pediatric flexible flatfoot is increasing as a result. But researchers in Hong Kong aren’t just theorizing about what these trends mean in terms of patient management. They’re actually quantifying how obesity affects children’s response to orthotic therapy.

And then there’s Haiti. Even if you never leave the house, you’ve heard about Haiti, about the January earthquake that left a destitute country beyond destitute and its people homeless, penniless and too often limbless. Maybe you were even moved to make a donation.

But what’s no longer common knowledge is that outreach efforts are still going on now, six months after the quake. You may not know about the challenges still faced by volunteer rehab specialists, with many amputees who have yet to even touch their residual limbs months after amputation. About which types of donated prosthetic components will make the biggest difference, clinically and financially. About how a new pair of shoes can put a smile on the face of a boy who has lost both legs.

We can all benefit from paying more attention to the world outside our own national borders. It might make you a better practitioner. It might make you a better person. And you don’t even need a passport.

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