When left untreated, congenital clubfoot and developmental dysplasia of the hip will cause permanent disability and deformity, drastically affecting a child’s mobility and quality of life. These two conditions have been the primary focus of the orthopedic team headed by Dr. Brian Snyder as part of the Healing the Children mission to Neiva, Colombia. Over the past eight years Dr. Snyder and his team have worked as a part of a joint mission in this resource poor setting treating hundreds of children a year with both maxillofacial and orthopedic conditions. Neiva, a small mountain city in the department of Huila, Colombia has seen many years of armed conflict between the government and anti-government rebel forces. The strife has left the most vulnerable in the area without consistent access to medical care, and treatable conditions (like clubfoot and hip dysplasia) often go uncorrected. This past year, the orthopedic team expanded to three pediatric orthopedic surgeons, with the additions of Dr. Collin May and Dr. Mathilde Hupin. Working alongside Colombian orthopedic surgeons, nurses, and a team of volunteers, they performed nearly 50 procedures.
With expansion of the team, the research and educational aims have also expanded. Dr. May, a pediatric foot and limb deformity specialist, has engaged local community health providers to begin a program for screening children for clubfoot and hip dysplasia in an attempt to improve early detection and treatment. The development of a registry to track surgical outcomes, a push to improve follow up, and ongoing improvement in the relationship with local providers has focused the long-term goals on improved orthopedic care for the region both during, and between, trips.