Mercer Professor, Students to Present About Mission Trip to Vietnam

October 15, 2009

Media Contact:
Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

To watch a video about the Mercer On Mission Trip to Vietnam, go> .

MACON – Dr. Ha Van Vo and several students who accompanied him on a Mercer On Mission trip to Vietnam this summer will make a presentation on their trip and discuss the progress of the three-year project to develop and deliver low-cost prosthetics to the developing world. The presentation will be in the Science and Engineering Building Auditorium, Room 110, on Oct. 21 from 3 to 5 p.m.

The event is co-sponsored by Mercer’s Faculty/Staff Christian Fellowship and the School of Engineering and is free and open to the public. There will be a reception following the presentation.

Dr. Vo, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, traveled to Vietnam with a colleague from the School of Engineering and a team of students to work with Vietnamese amputees living in and around Ho Chi Minh City. In all, the team fitted 35 prosthetics and cast 27 people for later fittings. Dr. Vo and the students also treated approximately 1,000 patients for related ailments such as back problems, arthritis and sprained ligaments. In addition, the group also trained local medical personnel to adapt the prosthetics to fit individual amputees.

Next year, the program will be expanded. “We plan to take about 100 universal sockets with us on the next trip,” Dr. Vo said.

The three-year initiative by Mercer will provide amputees with low-cost prosthetics that can be fitted without having to be fully customized. Because amputees in developing countries cannot afford expensive customized prosthetics, they often must go without them. Mercer has developed a new form of prosthetics, which do not require full customization, that cost less than $200 each. Designed by Mercer School of Engineering students, the prosthetics use a universal socket technology developed by Dr. Vo, a native of Vietnam. Eventually, Mercer will expand the program to Thailand and India.

In February, the Clinton Global Initiative University – a program of the William J. Clinton Foundation – recognized Mercer’s project “as an exemplary approach to addressing a specific global challenge” during the organization’s annual conference in Austin, Texas. The University’s Mercer On Mission project was one of only four “commitments” by universities around the country to be recognized by former President Bill Clinton during the conference’s opening plenary session.

The project is addressing a worldwide problem, which is particularly acute in Vietnam. More than 2,000 Vietnamese are injured each year by land mines and unexploded bombs left during the Vietnam War. An estimated 100,000 amputees live in Vietnam today, and there are more than 18 million amputees around the world, with more than 80 percent of those living in developing countries.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit www.mercer.edu.
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