SRS Newsletter
June 2011
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Advocacy & Public Relations Committee Update

John P. Lubicky, MD

The Advocacy Committee has been involved in several initiatives since the last Annual Meeting. Advocacy, as defined in the committee’s charges involves efforts directed to issues concerning our patients, as well as our members.

State Proclamations of June as Scoliosis Awareness Month – This initiative was started several years ago & was successful in a number of states in which the governors proclaimed a Scoliosis Awareness Month. This was an effort to inform the public about scoliosis and the need to identify those who may have it and to seek evaluation for those who actually have it. With most states now not having mandatory school screenings, it is more important than ever to have some mechanism to make the public, particularly parents with growing children and adolescents aware of this diagnosis. When a governor takes the time to issue such a proclamation, he/she indicates by that action, they view that the issue is important and the public recognizes that. This perception hopefully then will encourage parents to seek evaluation and treatment for their affected children. Members of the committee were encouraged to pursue this initiative in their own states.

Research Capitol Hill Days – This is an AAOS sponsored two-day event that took place in Washington, DC in March during which representatives from the AAOS membership, as well as some specialty societies (and their patients, if desired), visited with their states’ senators and representatives to push for continued funding for musculoskeletal research through the NIAMS section of the NIH. Patients and others spent the first day in meetings and visiting NIH. That evening, physicians, patients, our DC liaisons and featured speakers met for a conference and dinner. The second day, participants spent the day running to senate/house office buildings around the capitol meeting with their respective senators, representatives or their staff people. Lawrence Lenke, MD and I represented the SRS and were paired together to visit the Missouri and West Virginia politicians. Visits with the actual representatives or senators were quite interesting, and in general, were more rewarding than just meeting with staffers. However, all we met were quite cordial and seemed genuinely interested in what we had to say. The visit to the lawmaker’s lair was an eye-opener in how the government works, its complexity and how all special interest groups (like ours) continually petition these people. It also demonstrated the great breadth of issues they must deal with daily to address the needs of their constituents. A short amount of free time between visits allowed us to visit the House chamber during a debate on the war in Afghanistan – another eye-opener into the workings of our government.

Alternative Treatments – The Advocacy Committee has teamed up with the Non-Operative Committee to investigate various but mostly unproven remedies for spinal deformity. These run the gamut of legitimacy, but are available to our patients who prefer to reject standard methods of management. Our efforts are being aimed at identifying these methods and then hopefully providing accurate information and assessment of them, via the website, for those seeking information. This collaborative effort is in its early stages and no doubt will continue in the foreseeable future.

Collaboration with the Presidential Line and our DC Liaisons in Matters of Interest & Importance for our Members – This committee, as well as others, is made aware of developments, such as the threat of very restrictive guidelines for coverage of spinal surgery by South Carolina BC/BS, in an effort to take appropriate action to clarify and address these issues.

Revision of the Textbook of the BMUS – The USBJI (US Bone & Joint Initiative) has replaced the USBJD as an agent to maintain awareness and provide education on issues of musculoskeletal health. A book was published a number of years ago under the auspices of the USBJD that addressed various MS conditions and served as a source of information on the Burden of Musculoskeletal Disease in the US (BMUS). It was felt that an update was in order to provide more current information. The members of the Advocacy committee were asked to review the current chapter addressing spinal deformity and provide input to the chairman, so that a revision of the chapter could be done as deemed necessary. This task is well underway, with the expectation that that revision would be completed by the next annual meeting.

If any SRS fellows have any issues that could be addressed by the Advocacy Committee, he/she can communicate directly with the chairman or through the SRS office.

Chair: John P. Lubicky, MD, Members: Daniel W. Green, MD, William C. Lauerman, MD, Jochen P. Son-Hing, MD, Richard Holt, MD, Vishwas R. Talwalkar, MD, Jose Herrera-Sota, MD, Brian G. Smith, MD, Baron S. Lonner, MD, Steven M. Mardjetko, MD.