Improving health for people with disabilities

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The phone call from Ghana clinched Asare Christian’s career path. His grandmother was exhibiting sudden, puzzling symptoms including loss of balance, coordination, and bladder function. To Christian, who was learning about brain injury in his clinical rotation in rehabilitation medicine at the Medical College of Wisconsin, this sounded like a case of hydrocephalus, fluid accumulation within the brain. His diagnosis was confirmed and she received surgery that saved her life. But with no physical rehabilitation services available to help her through the first months of recovery, she became disabled.

Although her physicians did all they could for her, they — along with physicians across sub-Saharan Africa — lack the resources to provide rehabilitative care, said Christian, a rehabilitation physician who is graduating this month with an MPH in Health Policy and Management. “There is a huge need for these services in this part of the world, he said. “I always wanted to contribute solutions to improving  health infrastructure in environments where the need is greatest. It became clear to me that this was it.”

While he was still in medical school, Christian began working on a plan to create a medical rehabilitation program in Ghana, which has now been submitted to the Ministry of Health. He hopes eventually to return to Ghana to help oversee the training of sub-Saharan Africa’s first physicians to specialize in the field.

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