Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Bone Healer Story in Nigeria

The holistic pain management clinic in Zoller and Dutta (2008), and the bourgeoning popularity of Acupuncture as an efficacious healing method remind me of Mathew, a famous bone healer in a neighboring community in my home country Nigeria. Mathew was famous for miraculous fixing of broken bones resulting from different kinds of injuries, namely car accidents, football games, and more recently commercial cyclists. Accident victims with different degrees of injuries found succor in his magical skills.

Mathew’s popularity assumed a crescendo in the 1990’s when the influx of motorcycles popularly known as “okada” a local coinage for a fast means of circumventing traffic in big cities led to rising cases of road traffic accidents and fracture injuries.

Particularly interesting is the treatment of patients from orthopedic hospitals reputed for plaster of Paris (POP), which was a standard mode of treating patients with bone fracture. POP, which is a biomedical treatment, lasts for several months occasionally resulting in the amputation of the arm or leg.
Although Mathew has passed on, the skills were transferred to his sons, and grand children. To date, there is an influx of patients in their dingy apartment in the rural community. Interestingly, referral to Mathew’s bone healing home is by word of mouth, yet patients continue to troop in. So I ask: does Mathew’s inability to articulate his technique in lingua franca render his skill less efficient?

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