COPE works in partnership with the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation to provide people with disabilities access to services. From 2009-2010 the COPE Connect outreach program assessed and developed treatment plans for 430 people from eight Provinces. In 2012, COPE provided over 1000 orthotic/prosthetic devices. COPE also provided Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy services for many adults and children.
Unexploded Ordnance (UXO)
During the Vietnam War (1964-1973), conflict spilled over into Laos in a secret war where more than 500,000 bombing missions dropped over two million tons of ordnance on the country.
More than 270 million bombies were dropped and with an average failure rate of 30 percent, it is estimated that as many as 80 million of them failed to explode. So, while the bombings stopped four decades ago in 1973 in Laos, the country is still littered with a significant amount of unexploded ordnance, or UXO.
Around 30% of the people provided prosthetic devices through our service have been injured by an unexploded ordnance (UXO). UXOs are still a significant problem in many villages - children and adults trying to make a living from collecting scrap metal are particularly at risk. Many of the areas are remote and getting proper medical attention is difficult. With a prosthesis and rehabilitative care many people are able to return to undertake important livelihood activities, such as farming, and thus support their family.
Children with Disabilities
COPE also provides specific rehabilitation services for children with disabilities. COPE is working with the paediatric department at the CMR to create a child-friendly environment where children with a wide range of disabilities can receive support. A range of disabilities are treated through the clinic including cerebral palsy. As well as supporting the clinical development of the services at both the national and provincial centres. This project also provides free rehabilitation devices and teaches parents to continue exercises with their child at home. POWER International supports this on-going work.
Although Lao PDR was declared polio free in 2002 there are still many people living with the effects of polio. Orthoses (supportive devices) can assist people with their mobility and reduce the chance of deformities occurring which can be painful and make daily life more difficult. A COPE partner organisation provides people with tricycles, where appropriate, as a means to be able to travel for study or work.
People can be affected by leprosy in different ways and there is still a lot of misunderstanding and stigma around this disease. Monty is a good example of what can be achieved. He was born in Sam Neua which is in North Eastern Lao PDR. He lost his leg due to leprosy and has learned to manage well with a prosthetic leg. He also has significant problems with his hands and uses a tricycle to get around for longer distances. He is currently studying in high school and dreams of one day becoming a teacher.
The rate of industrial and traffic accidents is on the rise in Lao PDR. We support the rehabilitation of people injured in such accidents, suffering spinal injury, complex orthopedic problems, head injury and amputation. COPE also supports the development of rehabilitation services for people following stroke and other medical conditions.
It is estimated that up to 2000 children under five years old in Lao PDR have club foot. Club foot is an relatively easily treated condition if seen early enough in the child's life. When not treated club foot is a common cause of mobility impairment in Lao PDR. COPE employs the Ponseti technique to treat club foot in Lao PDR. In high income countries this treatment is normally begun at a week old, but the same technique has ben used on children up to 13 years old in Lao PDR. Local staff have been trained in the technique in each of the five rehabilitation centres. In cases where adults with club foot have not been able to access this treatment, surgery is not an option. Custom-fit shoes are made in the workshop to fit an adult with club foot.