A group of Iraqi doctors and technicians are at St. Petersburg College to take part in advanced orthotic and prosthetic education to improve the level of care provided to their Iraqi patients.
The training is a collaborative effort between the SPC College of Orthotics & Prosthetics; SPC Continuing Education Health; the CE Health Advisory Committee; the Florida Association of Orthotics and Prosthetics; Trulife; Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics; and others.
The Iraqi group is made up of two doctors and two “bench men” – a term the Iraqis prefer for what Americans would probably call “technicians.” They will learn new technologies that will improve the quality of care provided to war-injured Iraqi citizens.
The visit stems from a Rotary International program that gathers used prosthetic devices to ship to an Iraqi clinic for rework and reuse.
The Iraqi group is sponsored by B.A.S.R.A. (Bringing Assistance and Support to Recovering Amputees) Prosthetics for Life Project, an offshoot of an earlier Rotary International effort. The effort was so successful the U.S. State Department asked Rotary to expand it to include training for Iraqi doctors. Rotary, in turn, approached SPC.
There are about 50,000 amputees in Iraq, many of whom are women and children. Health care is barely accessible and Iraqi prosthetic technology is perhaps equivalent to American technology of 20 years ago. Used prosthetics and orthotics are the norm.
SPC’s Continuing Education Health Program has been working on a three-week training program for the Iraqi clinicians. They will study upper and lower extremity prosthetics, ankle and foot prosthetics as well as orthotic structures for congenital birth defects.
Besides the time at SPC, the Iraqis are expected to meet with area surgeons and physicians.
They are to be officially welcomed Nov. 8 at a reception at Bankers Insurance Group Building, home of SPC’s J.E. Hanger College of Orthotics and Prosthetics, at the Caruth Health Education Center building, 7200 66th Street N, Pinellas Park between 5 and 7 p.m.
They plan to stay in the area until Nov. 19.