Stiff like stock-fi sh A patient with fracture of the neck and spinal cord injury was managed by a traditional bonesetter.
Th e bonesetter constructed a cage for him and had him strapped down for months, waiting for the boneS to heal.
But not very well! When he was released from the cage, he was smelly: like a pit latrine, with horrible bedsores over his back: as stiff as stock-fi sh (Panla) and unable to be rehabilitated into a wheelchair.
Oh, he was still paralysed! A useless arm Another chap, Peter, was seen at the Federal Staff Hospital, Jabi, Abuja.
He fell off a bike 2 year previously and fractured his arm.
Th e bone was broken and it damaged the nerve to the forearm.
He was unable to use his hand.
Being a menial worker, he had no choice but to visit the local traditional bonesetter for treatment.
Big mistake! Th e arm was splinted with sticks and strapped with strips of cloth material.
Here is what they did to him! The management by the traditional bonesetter! When we saw him, he had been unable to work with the arm dangling by his side.
Th e fracture had not healed as shown on the x-ray of his arm.
Th e ends of the bone had rounded off and there was no union whatsoever.
He looked miserable and life was truly upside down.
Worse, he had spent so much in return for nothing! Picture showing the ends of the bones: not healed after 2 years! Well, we could not leave him alone, now, could we? We had to prove that orthodox medicine was superior and a much better alternative in this case.
Moreover, how could we refuse a plea to help a fellow Nigerian? Even if previously misguided and misinformed! We did this Some patients are not even as lucky as Peter.
Many have gangrenous arms and legs and need amputations.
Th e doctors at the Federal Staff Hospital, Jabi, Abuja see many cases like this in their clinics daily.
Th ey are also in a great position to remedy the mishap in this case and we facilitated the operation.
Th erefore, Brain and Spine Surgery Consortium stepped in as part of our corporate social responsibility and paid his bills for the operation.
It was the least we could do! Peter underwent successful repair of his non-united fracture a few months ago.
Th e operation took a few hours and he was home a few days later.
Five months after removing the plaster cast, he is undergoing rehab and smiling again.
Th e long forlorn look and miserable aff ect long gone! Th e picture showing the arm well healed and better The charlatans Let us talk about this properly and fi nd a way out.
Th e practice of traditional bone setting is extensive in Nigeria and it enjoys enormous patronage from the people.
Traditional bonesetters are number 3 in the hierarchy of duplicitous ‘health practitioners’ coming after pastors and the herbalists.
Patent chemists and pharmacies are a distant fourth.
Regardless, Nigerians continue to throng to these cons in their millions disregarding the devastation often left behind.
In focus, the outcome of the intervention of bonesetters’ treatment is usually poor with profound eff ects on the patient.
Th e methods of treatment vary, and so complications of treatment are usually a function of the method applied.
Massive complications Th e problems caused by them are usually signifi cant with extremity gangrene being the worst.
For example, where splints have been applied, compartment syndrome, extremity gangrene and Volkmann ischemia are the regularly occurring complications.
Where massaging and pulling are the preferred treatment option, they usually lead to abnormal bone ossifi cation and non-union as in this case.
Where scarifi cations have been performed, chronic osteomyelitis, sepsis and tetanus often occur.
Th e traditional bonesetters are worse than a hurricane in the misery they cause.
But, what are we to do as these people see the majority of Nigerians seeking healthcare? Th e fact is that they are cheaper, more accessible and local to the populace.
Th ey are therefore not going to go away and will remain regardless of their poor performances and track record.
Okay, what is the way forward? Solutions Th e solution is to regulate the practice and off er training to improve the care rendered.
Th ough a number of defi ciencies of the bone setters have been highlighted above, it is possible that they can be trained to function at the primary level especially in the rural areas.
Th e Federal and State governments therefore need to take urgent steps to regulate the present practice of the trade in Nigeria.
We cannot throw away this baby with the bath water.
NB: Th e BASS consortium takes its corporate Social Responsibility seriously and we help when we can to improve access to Neurosurgery and help make high end complex operations aff ordable.
In October, as part of the Independence Day Celebrations, we will off er 5.7% discounts for operative care.