Orthopaedic Institute for Children’s Rachel Thompson, M.D., Travels to Colombia to Treat Children and Give Them a Chance to Grow and Play Well

Date: 04/29/2019

As part of its commitment to advancing pediatric orthopedics worldwide, Rachel Thompson, M.D., of Orthopaedic Institute for Children, has traveled to Colombia to give children in that country the chance to grow well and play well as all children should. Dr. Thompson is associate director of the UCLA/OIC Center for Cerebral Palsy.

On her just-concluded trip, Dr. Thompson was part of an orthopedic team of the Silver Service Children’s Foundation, a group of orthopedic surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and pediatricians who travel to the Colombian city of Buga biannually to evaluate and treat children with orthopedic diseases. Since the organization’s founding in 1992 it has made more than 50 trips to Buga.

During this most-recent visit, they evaluated more than 200 children and performed 50 procedures on 36 children. “Many of these procedures gave children who did not have the ability to walk for more than a few steps at a time the ability to run and jump and play,” said Dr. Thompson. “Among those we treated were children with neglected clubfoot, untreated hip dysplasia, Rickets deformities and neglected cerebral palsy cases. In one case we constructed an ankle where there was none.

“It was truly an honor to have joined this team for the third time,” Dr. Thompson continued. “Each trip reminds me why I am a pediatric orthopedic surgeon—to make kids better.”

Dr. Thompson’s visit to Colombia is but one example of OIC’s commitment to advancing pediatric orthopedics worldwide. Through its acclaimed International Children’s Program, OIC has provided free, high-quality care to more than 150,000 children from Mexico and other countries who have orthopedic conditions (the program includes physicians from OIC making multiple visits to Calexico and Mexicali each year to see children in need). Furthermore, Jennifer Beck, M.D., associate director of OIC’s Center for Sports Medicine, recently traveled to Singapore, Malaysia and South Korea as a recipient of a prestigious traveling fellowship; and throughout the year physicians from OIC speak at international conferences, share best practices around the world, host physicians from other countries, and go where it is needed to enhance orthopedic care for children.

Dr. Thompson joined OIC in 2017 as part of an expansion of the cerebral palsy program on OIC’s downtown Los Angeles campus to complement its center housed at UCLA in West L.A. It is the only interdisciplinary clinic in Southern California that evaluates and treats people with cerebral palsy throughout their lifespan and is also heavily involved in research in the field. In addition to her role as associate director of the center, Dr. Thompson is also an assistant clinical professor-in-residence in the Department of Orthopaedics at UCLA. Her clinical and research interests are in cerebral palsy muscular pathology and in using gait analysis to improve surgical decision making and clinical outcomes.