Vicon and NOC support CURE International to create first gait lab in Ethiopia

For more than 20 years, CURE International has helped bring medical treatment to children in developing nations where modern medical technology may not be readily available. In an effort to help the nonprofit combat specific issues plaguing children in Ethiopia – including large numbers of children with cerebral palsy – Vicon has donated a complete optical system to CURE’s Addis Ababa location, creating the first gait lab in the country and helping to bring a new level of healthcare to children in need.

Since opening its doors in 2008, CURE Ethiopia has become the premiere children’s orthopedic hospital in the region. Along with modern facilities and dedicated experts on staff, CURE hosts volunteers from around the world to teach classes and lend their medical expertise. For the last decade, members of the internationally renowned Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (NOC), located in Oxford, England, have been among the most dedicated volunteers. NOC doctors, nurses and administrators have brought with them unmatched surgical and diagnostic abilities in the field of orthopedics, helping CURE to treat patients and identify how and where they can improve their services.

While orthopedic issues are as common in Ethiopia as they are anywhere, managing children with cerebral palsy is a particular challenge. Cerebral palsy is a debilitating movement disorder that often leaves sufferers unable to walk without assistance. There is no cure for cerebral palsy, but surgical remedies can help to significantly restore mobility. Planning for that surgery, however, demands precision equipment to identify joint contractures, torsional abnormalities and muscle weakness.  That requires a gait lab fitted with motion capture cameras capable of recording the movements of a patient, and an electromyographic (EMG) system that can capture the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles. That’s where Vicon came in.

After traveling to Addis Ababa and determining the impact these systems could have, the NOC’s Mr. Tim Theologis reached out to Vicon to discuss the possibility of creating a full gait lab for CURE Ethiopia, similar to the NOC’s Vicon-equipped gait lab in Oxford. Vicon quickly saw the difference the equipment could make, and soon donated a complete system – including 10 Vicon Bonita cameras and its Nexus software, along with an electromyographic system – to CURE International.

On behalf of CURE Ethiopia Children’s Hospital, we are very grateful for Vicon’s generosity. This is already helping us to better understand how to help our patients with neuromuscular disorders through surgery and therapy. This faculty will be instrumental in helping many children live more independent lives.”

CURE Ethiopia’s Dr. Rick Gardner

Founded in 1996 in Salt Lake, Michigan, CURE International opened its first hospital in 1998 in Kenya. It now operates nine hospitals around the world, along with specialty programs designed to help treat clubfoot and hydrocephalus in an additional 19 countries, making it one of the leading nonprofit medical service providers in the world. Its focus continues to be on helping children and teenagers in developing areas suffering from orthopedic and neurological conditions.

Since opening, CURE Ethiopia has become one of the preeminent pediatric orthopedic hospitals in the region, offering training in advanced orthopedic techniques. It maintains a dual focus on pediatric orthopedics and pediatric plastic reconstruction, including treatments for cleft lip, club foot and other limb deformities. A recent expansion to the hospital introduced new facilities for patients, including the gait lab, the first of its kind in Ethiopia. The hospital is staffed by several trained surgeons and continues to receive support from organizations like the NOC.

Dr. Gardner said:

The NOC continues to offer vital support to our work in Ethiopia. The ongoing collaboration with the NOC is having a wide-reaching impact in orthopedic surgical services in Ethiopia, through service expansion and by training the next generation of surgeons.”

CURE Ethiopia’s gait lab opened its doors on March 4, 2019, and is now seeing patients.

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