I felt honored earlier this year when asked by a friend in Africa to teach Fascial Distortion Model in Africa. In early November I spent a week on the ground in Burkina Faso, a small land-locked country in west central Africa, just north of the Ivory Coast. A political coup canceled the last teaching trip there, and a terrorist attack happened when the class would have been going on. This time the security situation was different, with checkpoints everywhere on the roads. I felt mostly safe and secure after a couple of days there.
Teaching Fascial Distortion Model
We traveled by car from the capitol of Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou, to the small town of Gaoua, in the south part of the country. There, we taught a 3-day Fascial Distortion Model (FDM) class to 25 participants from 2 countries. For the first time since FDM teaching started in this country eight years ago, most of the participants were physicians, not physical therapists. I had seen the appreciation for FDM from the African delegation in the past, as FDM fits perfectly into the African healthcare system. It doesn’t require any special tools, and it allows you to work with patients speaking any language. FDM is based off of interpreting the hand gestures patients universally use when they describe their symptoms.
It was beyond gratifying to me to be able to treat a local woman with shoulder pain who was speaking Lobidi, and not have to wait for the translation of her words to come through French, then to English. I just treated, and she was raising her arm better. No words are needed when you see the smile on a patient’s face when pain is reduced and function improves.
We also treated patients in the local hospital in Gaoua, and at a physical therapy clinic in Ouagadougou. I treated a local man who had a stroke and was walking with a severe limp and assistance from a friend. Within 10 minutes of FDM treatment his balance and strength on his weak leg improved to where he didn’t need help with his walking.
On our fifth day there we had a little time for sightseeing on the way back to the capitol. We stopped by the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the country, Loropeni. It’s a walled city 105 meters in length and width dating back to the Iron age, at least 1,000 years.
I was struck at how poor many people were throughout Burkina Faso and yet how content with life they seemed to be. Many people in Burkina Faso live on the equivalent of $100 US per year. They subsist on farming and bringing wood to the markets.
However, there is a big change happening in the country especially in the capitol city. Many people have decent clothes, shoes, and surprisingly – cell phones. The painful condition of “Text Neck” is everywhere! They are also starting to pave more of the roads, which will help somewhat with the ever present red dust that comes off the Sahara. Dust and soot from fires made air quality dangerous most every day we were in the capitol.
Despite taking pride in their appearance with clothes and hair (“coiffure shops” were everywhere), there is a cultural issue of throwing all trash onto the ground. Trash was literally everywhere, although some shop owners would clear it out of their dirt storefronts.
Thank you to all that donated to the GoFundMe to help cover the cost of my airfare to Africa. I was able to bring a whole suitcase of medical and physical therapy supplies to my friends there. It was all greatly needed and greatly appreciated.
It’s hard to put into words the feeling of being in Africa to help their medical community and how appreciative and desperate they are for help. I feel like a part of me is still there, living out a parallel separate African life to help my new friends. I know I’ll be back.
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