The current U.S. model for addressing spinal and musculoskeletal ailments is dysfunctional, to say the least. Most patients either self-refer or begin with their general practitioner (MD).
MDs generally medicate a spinal pain patient or refer them to other specialists, which could be even worse. If the patient self-refers, it is likely based upon what they have heard, rather than an understanding of their choices. Either way, chiropractic is many times the last choice after other "remedies" have failed. If only we could wipe the slate clean and start over...
While this isn't really possible in the U.S., health care in much of the rest of the world is less political and more focused. Without the money to waste on ineffective drugs and harmful surgeries, those in underserved communities are seeking health care that works at a cost that makes sense. Debilitating back pain is not an option for people in most of the world. As they lack health insurance and "sick days," their only choice is to stay working or starve.
World Spine Care (WSC) is a nonprofit public charity registered in the U.S. with the goal of helping people with spinal disorders in underserved communities throughout the world. The WSC model is simple: establish primary care clinics in these underserved communities "for any person seeking help with a musculoskeletal and more specifically a spinal complaint."
The vast majority of patient complaints will be managed within World Spine Care clinics. These clinics will be staffed by doctors of chiropractic and other clinicians who have "special training in low-technology, low-cost, evidence-based protocols that include education, exercise and manual therapies directed at spinal conditions and musculoskeletal pain." This model puts chiropractors at the forefront of the spine care model because DCs have the ability to provide the most effective care for most spinal ailments without unnecessary expenses.
WSC is also funding research on the effectiveness of this model. This could have a profound impact on how chiropractic care can best be utilized, potentially supporting needed changes in our country.
The first clinics have been established in rural communities in Botswana and India. You can read more about their progress on the WSC Web site (www.worldspinecare.org). In addition to the doctor of chiropractic on-site, the clinic in Botswana has other DCs rotating through for a few months at a time. You can read about the recent experience of Sarah Potthoff, DC, on her blog (http://drsarahpotthoff.wordpress.com). Dr. Potthoff just completed her rotation and reported on it in our July 1 issue ("Pursuing a Purpose: My Botswana Experience With World Spine Care").
The WSC is endorsed by a growing list of impressive organizations: the Bone and Joint Decade; North American Spine Society; EuroSpine, the Spine Society of Europe; International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine; World Federation of Chiropractic; South African Spine Society; and the Chiropractic Association of South Africa. The WSC also has a number of organizations financially supporting its work:
- DePuy Synthes (a Johnson & Johnson company)
- Palladian Health
- NCMIC Foundation
- Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College
- Palmer College of Chiropractic
- Elite Chiropractic Tables
- Skoll Foundation
- Musk Foundation
- Vickie Anne Palmer Foundation
- Bechtel Trusts
There are a number of ways you can participate in this important work. As the WSC is looking to open new clinics in other parts of the world, you might be interested in spending a few months (or even a few years) serving in one of them, seeing firsthand what chiropractic can accomplish in an environment unfettered by politics and managed care.
If you'd rather practice where you are, then you should become a member of WSC. For a modest $150 donation, you can become a founding member and have an important impact on health care globally. Not only will you provide funds for care of people in underserved communities, but you also will be part of a project that will establish a new model of care destined to impact health care for decades to come.
This is your chance to help provoke a paradigm shift in health care while providing care for underserved people. Please go to www.worldspinecare.org and join the effort. Yours will be a lasting impact on the world.
Click here for more information about Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher.