Mary Barnes, MOT, CHT, CIDN, and Adam Crelling, MS, OTR/L, CHT, were honored to join the 2023 Surgicorps Mission in Ho Chi Minh City. In addition to fabricating custom orthotics and providing education for post-operative patients, Adam and Mary provided conservative care to non- surgical patients. Mary and Adam were very grateful to have the opportunity to work, collaborate and learn from Surgicorps hand surgeons Cathy Tang, MD, Rich Montilla, MD, and Warren Schubert, MD.
Having the benefit of previously serving in Vietnam, the hand therapists were able to bring much needed supplies including shoulder pulleys, custom neck supports, stockinette, scar management tools, home exercise programs, and education for scar management. All supplies were purchased or procured by the hand therapists.
Patient performing pulley exercises one day post-op axillary burn scar release.
Mary and Adam were joined by Alexei Lyapustin, PT. In addition to assisting in the OR, Alexei provided important post-op care to neck and shoulder patients.
Making a lasting difference
Adam and Mary were excited to work with PT and OT employees of Ho Chi Minh City Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Hospital. These skilled and compassionate therapists assisted SurgiCorps as interpreters and shadowed Adam and Mary. They were eager to follow-up with our patients to ensure great continuity of care. SurgiCorps hand therapists donated all leftover supplies including thermoplastic material, Velcro, OTS orthotics, silicone putty and foam for scars, pulleys, scissors, goniometers, theraband and therapy tape.
Surgicorps volunteer helps establish Vietnam’s first Hand Therapy Society.
Surgicorps volunteer Mary Barnes has taught hand therapy and orthotics courses in the United States and internationally through the American Society of Hand Therapists and other organizations.
This year Mary taught a two-day Hand Therapy and Orthotics course at Ho Chi Minh University of Medicine and Pharmacy, sponsored by the following professors:
- Pham Ngoc Dat, MOT, BPT, professor of Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation at the Ho Chi Minh University of Medicine and Pharmacy, specializing in orthopedics and musculoskeletal conditions;
- Nguyen Huynh Ngoc Mai Tram, MOT, BPT, professor of Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation at the Ho Chi Minh University of Medicine and Pharmacy, specializing in Mental Health and Psychosocial Rehabilitation; and
- Le Thanh Van, Msc. PT, Head of the Rehabilitation Department, Ho Chi Minh University of Medicine, and Pharmacy.
Over thirty eager professionals completed the course, including the following OTs and PTs from Ho Chi Minh City Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Hospital: OTs Pham Thi Quynh Quyen, Hoang Thi Diem, Tran Trieu Vuong Dung, and Ho Le Trung, and PTs Phung Khai Vinh and Pham Nguyen Tu Uyen. Many of these dedicated professionals also volunteered as interpreters for SurgiCorps.
Providing training in the use of materials that have limited availability locally is not a sustainable solution. In addition to teaching orthotic fabrication with thermoplastics, Mary purchased and donated a 3D printer to the university. The cost of the 3D printer was around $300 USD, but the cost of the plastic is very inexpensive (pennies per orthosis). In addition to orthotics, 3D printers can also produce assistive devices and equipment such as goniometers, grippers, cup holders. The possibilities are endless.
With the support and encouragement of the International Federation of Societies of Hand Therapy (IFSHT), the course participants are forming Vietnam’s first Hand Therapy Society and joining IFSHT as an Associate member. IFSHT also noted a goniometer to the university.