Forty healthcare professionals from across the United States made their way for a 10-day medical mission trip to Yerevan, Armenia in September of 2021. This medical mission trip was organized by the Armenian-American community (Fresno, California), led by the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Armenia, and co-sponsored by the American Academy of Manipulative Therapy (AAMT). This year’s team consisted of physicians, surgeons, dentists, and for the first time, a team of 10 rehabilitation specialists.
The primary objective for this medical mission was to deliver pain management and rehabilitation services to the soldiers, families and communities most recently affected by the Nagorno-Karabakh war that occurred during the height of the pandemic in 2020. During the 44-day war, over 5,000 Armenian men were killed and several thousand were wounded. Mission members traveled to six different rural regions of Armenia to provide medical care, surgery, rehabilitation, and advanced clinical training to physical therapists and medical doctors.
Armenian soldiers had sustained a variety of injuries including: traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, limb loss, shrapnel pain, complex regional pain syndrome, neck pain, headaches, low back pain, untreated wounds, and other neurocognitive deficits. The physiotherapy team was able to treat 590 patients while also providing instruction in dry needling, spinal manipulation, soft tissue mobilization techniques, concussion and vestibular management, and wound care.
Occupational therapists evaluated and treated 80 patients in 3 different regions and provided educational resources, training and support to soldiers and their families. Speech therapists worked with veterans in Yerevan and also developed a strong relationship with the Children of Armenian Fund (COAF) in the Lori region providing care and support to families and their children with intellectual disabilities, developmental delay, and selective mutism. In addition, the surgical team performed 61 procedures and more than 200 patients were evaluated by the internal medicine team.
Over the past 6 years, donations of medical equipment, medication, supplies (or for the purpose medical facility renovations in Armenia) to the Armenian-American mission has exceeded $5.5 million. In 2019, the medical mission with the support of a local philanthropist was able to renovate the operating suites of the Regional Medical Center in the city of Ashtarak. The project was very important since the operative rooms lacked basic sanitation, running water and surgical instruments.
This year, the US ambassador to Armenia, Lynn Tracy joined the mission to unveil a brand-new radiographic X-ray machine at Ashtarak hospital and an echocardiogram and ultrasound machine in the hospital of Vardenis. The goal of this year is to provide the hospitals with more diagnostic medical equipment to better serve their communities.
The Armenian-American mission will continue to strive to meet the needs of this underserved population and provide the best available care to this war-torn country. Planning is underway for the 7th medical mission to Armenia which will take place from September 23 to October 8, 2022. The mission is beginning to recruit a larger number of physicians, surgeons, and physical therapists in order to meet the demands and higher level of care needed in these rural communities. If you would like to learn more about the 2022 mission, please contact Kristina Koroyan (firstname.lastname@example.org).