New Hope For The Handicapped

Shirlee Kempner


Beginning with this issue, the Inter-Clinic Information Bulletin will publish brief descriptions of organizations actively engaged in rehabilitation programs, particularly those geared to the needs of the child amputee. The initial article describes the activities of the World Rehabilitation Fund.

The World Rehabilitation Fund engages in a variety of projects throughout the world designed to aid handicapped persons, particularly emphasizing the treatment of children. Eugene J. Taylor, Secretary-Treasurer of the Fund comments that the new treatment techniques emerging from the Child Amputee Research Program and the twenty cooperating clinics in their studies of amputee management are applied extensively in programs for children.

There are many ways that the Fund helps the handicapped on an international basis. One is by expanding educational opportunities, that is by providing training for physicians, orthotists, prosthetists and rehabilitation workers. Other means of assistance are the provision of additional facilities for patient care; the production of braces and prostheses; and supplying prosthetic and orthotic devices to the needy.

In order to accomplish its various objectives, the World Rehabilitation Fund cooperates with many national and international agencies.

One of the Fund's educational projects provides fellowships and residencies for foreign physicians at the Institute of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. The Institute, in cooperation with various hospitals, offers the trainee a concentrated program in the care of the disabled. In the year 1964-1965 the Fund provided full or partial fellowships for advanced training in the care of chronic illnesses and disabilities resulting from disease, trauma and congenital anomalies. Thirteen foreign rehabilitation workers also received advanced training. The students came from a variety of countries, including Australia, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Germany, Hong Kong, India and Iran.

In underdeveloped countries various courses in prosthetics and/or orthotics are given by Mr. Juan Munros, Instructor for the World Rehabilitation Fund. They range in length from a few weeks to four months. Mr. Munros also provides consultation services in establishing prosthetic and orthotic shops throughout the world.

Among the popular activities conducted by Mr. Munros are intensive four-month "crash programs" to train additional prosthetists and orthotists. An intensive orthotics course of this type was recently given in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Mr. Munros instructed the students in the construction of braces. This was the third intensive course given in Brazil. Additional courses will be given in 1966 and 1967.

Intensive courses were also conducted in Vellore, South India, Haiti and Peru.

Consultation services and shorter courses have been provided in Haiti, Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Egypt and Tunisia.

In many of these underdeveloped countries the handicapped cannot afford prosthetic and orthotic devices. For this reason the World Rehabilitation Fund and other agencies are participating in a continuing project to send used but serviceable artificial limbs and braces to these needy countries. The beneficial effects are seen in Figures 1 through 6. These children, at the Hospital E. Deformes in Valparaiso, Chile, show the devices they have received through this program.

These photographs show children who were fitted with orthotic devices at the Hospital E. Deformes, Valparaiso, Chile.

Fig. 1 Fig. 2 Fig. 3 Fig. 4 Fig. 5 Fig. 6

Under a contract with the Agency for International Development the World Rehabilitation Fund is providing aid to the handicapped in Vietnam. As a result of the war there are many new amputees, both military and civilian. To meet the needs of these new amputees the existing rehabilitation facilities will be expanded and more equipment and supplies provided. Mr. Munros will train the personnel needed for the enlarged program.

Presently, sixty new limbs and braces are being produced each month. With the enlarged personnel and additional facilities, production of these devices will be increased. New techniques will also be introduced, and the heavy, cumbersome limbs now being made will be replaced by modern, lightweight plastic limbs.

The Department of State awarded the World Rehabilitation Fund a grant to aid the handicapped in Southeast Asia. Under this grant, the Fund is planning a sixty-bed center in Hong Kong for children with cerebral palsy. A six-year old child named King Ming Chan is one of many children who will soon have a chance for a better life because of this project. King and his family live in a resettlement flat on the Kowloon side of Hong Kong. He has been handicapped by cerebral palsy since birth. King cannot walk, his movements are uncontrolled, his speech is blurred, and he could not go to school this year with the other six-year olds in his community.

A multipurpose day center for persons with all types of disability will also be built in Hong Kong. This center, which is expected to serve 400 people daily, will provide vocational rehabilitation and sheltered work. The land for both these projects is being donated by the Hong Kong government.

When the facilities are completed and in operation, Hong Kong will have the finest complex for the rehabilitation of the physically handicapped in Southeast Asia.