Haitian Earthquake Amputees
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, in February 2010 for our first world focus we aimed our attention on Amputees.
The Haiti earthquake, which is thought to have killed up to 200,000 people, is also estimated to have injured 250,000 more and the number of injuries is increasing steadily. Although no precise figures are available, it is evident that the need is very high and among them about 1/3 will potentially develop secondary disabilities. The lack of professional Physical Therapy in Haiti does not allow proper rehabilitation. Artificial limb fitting will be needed in Haiti on a massive scale, and the country’s lack of healthcare infrastructure means disability rehabilitation will be difficult to provide.
As a result of the disaster, the best estimate is that 2,000 to 4,000 people required emergency amputations and now need prosthetics. Some hospitals have been performing between 30 and 100 amputations a day, many of these on children. Many people commute by foot or bicycle in Haiti, making amputations especially difficult to live with and accept. While children in particular are at risk of losing an education, amputees of any age are at a disadvantage as the environment consists of roads and sidewalks that are in bad shape, and wheelchairs, crutches and canes that are limited.
The need for prosthetics and mobility aids
There are going to be many more disabled (now), and among them a large population of newly amputated patients, and that population is going to grow. Organizations such as Physicians for Peace, Handicap International and Healing Hands for Haiti International plan on collecting prosthetics, crutches, canes, walkers and wheelchairs, as well as producing between 300 and 400 emergency prostheses, and setting up a prosthesis production facility in Haiti.
How you can help
If we can't fly out to Haiti to help first hand or donate the needed prosthetics and mobility aids, we can help by developing the amputee section of Physiopedia to provide open information for all the health care workers and families assisting in the rehabilitation of these unfortunate people.