Conditions we treat: neglected, broken bones

Chances are you’ve either broken a bone before or you know someone who has broken one of theirs. Broken bones are relatively common worldwide, but access to comprehensive medical care is not. Likely, the difference between your experience and the children at CURE hospitals is your access to treatment. If you’re badly hurt, you go to the hospital, the doctor or surgeon sets your bone, you get a cast, and a few weeks later, the cast is removed. However, in the countries where CURE serves, a quick visit to the local doctor isn’t typically accessible or affordable. Hence, the importance of CURE’s sponsored surgical care. 
Many of the children at CURE with broken bones were involved in motor vehicle accidents, a rough tackle in a soccer game, or just fell while with friends. At CURE Malawi, accidents that are unique to the country, like crocodile attacks are common. This was the case for Samuel.

Samuel, with the frame to correct his leg, after surgery.

Samuel was bitten by a crocodile while playing in the river with his friends. He was bounced between local hospitals that didn’t have the equipment and the ability to treat complicated broken bone cases. It took Samuel weeks to receive the proper treatment that should’ve been given within hours. Thankfully, Samuel was successfully treated at CURE Malawi! 

As rough as Samuel’s experience finding adequate care was, he’s lucky. Due to a lack of local specialized care and sometimes a lack of resources, some children don’t receive treatment for their broken bones until years after the initial break occurred. As a result, a child lives with unbearable pain and discomfort with the risk of infection. The bone eventually heals with time, but it often heals incorrectly and in an awkward position, causing more problems down the line.

Children with neglected, broken bones are often in pain and cannot participate in activities with their friends. Life at school often becomes difficult, and many children are bullied and made to feel worthless. Understandably, the academic performance of a child facing this kind of abuse declines, and it’s common to hear of children with this condition dropping out of school.

The good news is that even when broken bones are neglected, they can still be treated! It’s more complicated than treating a freshly broken bone, but it can be done. The treatment often involves installing an external metal frame onto the child’s appendage. The pins from this frame are drilled directly into the bone during surgery, and for several months, skilled technicians slowly adjust the frame and pins until the broken bone is corrected.

Kennedy, as a preteen, suffered from a broken leg that healed incorrectly. While playing football with his friends, he fell and injured his leg. He told his family, but they did not understand that it was broken and thought it would heal on its own. A month later, they saw that the bone was protruding and took him to a local hospital, where they referred him to CURE Malawi for specialized treatment. Kennedy had a frame placed on his leg to straighten his bones and is now walking pain-free with straight legs.

Correcting a neglected, broken bone can be a long and intricate process, which can be expensive. For many families, this specialized treatment isn’t financially available to them. But with your help and partnership, children in Malawi are receiving treatments they never thought possible. Bones are being corrected, and children are being restored to health.  

One of the beautiful things about CURE is that it allows everyone to participate in the life-transforming surgeries that are provided daily at CURE hospitals all around the world. You don’t need to be able to understand words like bilateral, ventricle, genu valgum, congenital, or cerebral-spinal fluid to take part in the life-changing and life-saving work that is done. But with this said, having an understanding of the conditions CURE treats does allow a deeper appreciation of just how important your donation is.

To support a child’s surgery, click here.