Special guests visit Health Sports Human Physiology, Psychology Classes
Athletic trainer Alecia Good and Saviour
November 14 was, for Pinewood's Head Athletic Trainer Alecia Good, a member of the MUSC Health Sports Medicine Team, "a wonderful reminder" of why she is a teacher. Good scheduled her friend Maurice Johnson, CO, BOCO, C.Ped, a certified orthotist and certified pedorthist from Floyd Brace Company (and Pinewood parent), to guest lecture in her Human Physiology and Psychology classes. Johnson asked to bring a model to help explain what he does for a living. The model was Saviour, a 10-year old boy from Ghana, Africa, who was born with cerebral palsy.
In Saviour's tribe, if babies are born with an anomaly (birth defect, maternal death, disease, or even twins or triplets), these babies are considered "spirit children" and are thought to have evil spirits that will be bad for the rest of the tribe. The parents are forced to make a difficult decision of moving the entire family to a "witch camp," where food and water are scarce, or getting rid of the "spirit child" and poisoning the baby.
Saviour was rescued by a local nun, Sister Stan, who cares for 57 other spirit children. Saviour could not walk or talk and got around by dragging himself by his hands. The scars on his knuckles mark the daily struggle he endured.
Sister Stan, through her charity, reached out to a retired nurse, Joan Tucker, who traveled to Ghana and advocated for surgery for Saviour. A long and difficult process finally brought Saviour to Shriners Hospital in Greenville, where he underwent a major reconstructive surgery at the end of June. He worked with a physical therapist to help build his strength and mobility. The physical therapist then referred him to Johnson for ankle foot orthotics.
Johnson, his assistant, Tucker, and Saviour all visited Good's classes that day. "Saviour spoke few words, but his smile lit up the room," said Good. He donned traditional attire as worn by chiefs in his tribe. He also had specially made New Balance shoes that provided a lift for a shorter leg. He had some orthosis on, but Johnson wanted to mold him for a new pair.
During Physiology class, Johnson explained the process of fitting, fabricating, and molding orthoses. He made casts on the ever-smiling Saviour and explained how they would help him walk. Saviour demonstrated his ability to walk across the room with one crutch and assistance from Tucker.
During Psychology class Johnson talked about the ability to allow his patients to participate more fully in life. Through the orthosis and a crutch, Saviour would now be able to move around and will not have to be carried or crawl.
Saviour's smile got even bigger when Tucker spoke about how excited he was to show his brothers and sisters in the orphanage how he could walk. Saviour plans to head home to Ghana in January, and Tucker will stay with him for a month while he learns to transition back into his regular life.
During the visit, the class also discussed the challenges Saviour will face after returning home. He will continue to grow, which creates the need for new shoes, braces, and longer crutches. Saviour and his team are hopeful these needs will all be met in time.
Said Good of the experience, "I'm not sure who learned more yesterday, my students or me. I thought that I was bringing in a guest lecturer to talk about a healthcare profession, but it was so much more. Instead of being the model, Saviour became the teacher.
"His story moved many of us to tears. His smile spoke volumes. His faith that has been instilled in him through Sister Stan was unshakable. The few words that he did speak brought joy to all our hearts. Saviour's presence was more impactful than any textbook could ever describe, any guest lecturer could ever explain, or any lesson I could ever plan."
Anna King, '18, also reflected on the visit: "It was an eye-opening experience that I will never forget. It was awesome to see how the things we are learning right now can help so many people in need."
For more information about Sister Stan's work, visit www.sisterstanschildren.org.