Who We Are

Summer 2007

The Foundation “Osteopathy Without Borders” was created to help bring osteopathy to developing countries. We are funding the full osteopathic training of two physical therapists, a couple from Lahore, and sending groups of osteopaths for 2-week humanitarian missions once or twice yearly. The CEO (College d’Etudes Osteopathiques) of Montreal, the central school of a network of 8 schools in Canada, Germany and Switzerland, has organized missions in Peru for the past 4 years and embarked on its first mission to Pakistan this year.

The volunteers working in Pakistan pay for their own expenses. The Foundation was created to channel funds to allow the training of local osteopaths. When they complete the five-year part-time program, we are planning to send teachers from the CEO to start teaching in Pakistan, with our two students acting as assistant-teachers. They will then be fully ready and able to start an autonomous Pakistani osteopathic school. Our mission will have reached it’s goal.

The story below, of our 2007 mission, can illustrate how osteopathy can be helpful in a developing country like Pakistan.  As time passes, we’ll be able to collect data and possibly allow others to replicate the model in other countries.

In July 2007, our small team of three osteopaths including Katia Isaac-Villette, DOMP, Faisal Naqvi, pDOMP, and Sylvie Erb, DOMP, all trained at the CEO, left for Lahore, Pakistan despite daily news of violent events in the country.  In actuality the unrest was very localized and life was continuing as usual for the majority of the 165 million Pakistanis in great need of improved health-care. Our goal was to provide treatment to the underprivileged population in the city of Lahore and in a remote village in the mountainous Northern Areas.

In Lahore, Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal, Orthopedic Surgeon and Professor, invited us to the public teaching hospital of Shaikh Zayed.  Dr. Pervaiz quickly understood how osteopathy could improve the health of people as a complementary form of medicine in his country. Professor Anwar Khan, the Chairman of the hospital and a Gastro-Enterologist, was also very welcoming and enthusiastic as he came to understand and experience the benefits of osteopathy.

Thanks to their full support, we were able to work in various departments of the hospital. Mornings were spent at the Physical Therapy Outpatient Department treating those who were coming for their regular physical therapy sessions with mostly musculo-skeletal complaints.  Afternoons were spent in various departments including Orthopedics, Pediatrics, Gastro-Enterology and Neurology.  Our team was embraced and the results were quite spectacular.

The Osteopathy Without Borders team worked with a young boy who suffered from an Ischemic Contracture; a condition where the arm is fixated in flexion and the hand is close to the shoulder. After his 45-minute treatment, his elbow and fingers almost totally recovered their extension and only the wrist stayed in flexion. Because of his productive session his surgery was cancelled.  We were able to treat amputees with phantom pain. We met with a man who had a non-union fracture 3 years after his accident, the day before his third surgery. Our team treated what was interfering with his central axis and circulation and we expected him to be able to finally fuse his bone during his next surgery. And we learned a year later, that in effect, it did happen.

Two days after working at the Pediatrics department, we returned to check how our patients were doing. Many of them had been discharged and cured of their pneumonia, diarrhea or urinary problems.  Those who had development delays improved, but needed more therapy, as their self-healing physiological systems, that osteopathy supports, were weaker.

The Gastro-Enterology department results were very impressive.  Many patients suffered complications from chronic liver disease (post hepatitis).  The severe ascitis (fluid in the abdomen) was easily alleviated and we could see their bellies go down during the treatment. The following day we saw one patient had recovered normal coloring, sat up and displayed increased energy. We will document our successes on our next mission so we can present data validating the support of using osteopathy in the hospitals in Pakistan.

In addition, we presented our work to two other hospitals including Shalamar hospital, a private general hospital offering affordable health-care, and Shauqat Khanum hospital, a charitable cancer hospital.  With enough volunteers for our next mission, we will be able to work at both hospitals.

The village of Hoper, in the Northern Areas, located 5 hours of rough driving from the main mountain town of Gilgit, was a drastic change in setting. That’s where we spent our second week of volunteer work.  Just one doctor working at a BHU (basic health unit) treats approximately 70 to 80 patients per day. Dr. Wajahat’s means are limited and he embraced our team and was extremely interested in being able to offer access to osteopathy to his patients.  We saw many chronic orthopedic cases and at least a dozen children suffering from infections and development delays.

Osteopathy is a precious addition to the offering of health-care modalities because of its efficiency and low cost. As shown during our mission many patients are completely cured of their afflictions or, at minimum, are helped tremendously while they receive allopathic treatment.

Thanks to the work of the Foundation we can insure that osteopathy becomes available to developing countries and allow the population to reach higher levels of health and well-being.

If you want to help us reach our goals, please visit our Support Our Work page.
Thank you for your support and interest,
Sylvie Erb, PT, DOMP