August 2000 Bulletin

‘We can make this the greatest decade’

By Carolyn Rogers

Praise from the President, inspiring speakers, international dignitaries and representatives of the "family" of musculoskeletal organizations gave a celebratory tone to the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade Inaugural Luncheon held on June 7 in Washington, D.C.

It was a fitting start to what is hoped to be a vital decade filled with numerous advances in the understanding and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.

Forty-seven different musculoskeletal organizations mingled with ambassadors from the Czech Republic and Hungary and representatives from the embassies of Australia, Brazil, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Saudi Arabia and Sweden.

President Clinton’s letter praised all the groups involved for their efforts to raise awareness of the magnitude and impact of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries and for their efforts to improve prevention, treatment and rehabilitation and commitment to research through participation in the Bone and Joint Decade, 2000-2010.

The letter presented by Barbara Wooley, special assistant to the president and associate director for public liaison, reads, in part, "I commend the many volunteer, professional, and patient advocacy organizations who are devoting their time and energy to increasing awareness of the seriousness and widespread impact of musculoskeletal diseases and injuries. Through your efforts to improve prevention, treatment and rehabilitation, your commitment to research, and your participation in a variety of Bone and Joint Decade activities, you are bringing hope to countless people around the world and helping to create a brighter, healthier future for us all. Best wishes for a successful observance."


Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, chair of the Academy’s Bone and Joint Decade Committee and convener of the United States National Action Network, effectively "rallied the troops" while presenting the facts about all that has been accomplished so far. Dr. Weinstein also summarized the current "burden of disease" data, pointing out that musculoskeletal conditions restrict the ability of more than 36 million Americans to perform activities of daily living.

Citing data analyzed by the Academy, Dr. Weinstein noted that each year in the United States:

"Major breakthroughs during the Bone and Joint Decade will improve people’s mobility and healing," Dr Weinstein added.

"Our journey over the next 10 years will benefit millions of Americans, and obviously hundreds of millions of individuals around the world who now suffer or will suffer from disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

"As we all realize, the key to success in the Bone and Joint Decade is the development of new collaborative partnerships. These new alliances between musculoskeletal associations, patient advo- cacy groups, practitioners, researchers and industry are critical to accomplishing the goals of the Bone and Joint Decade.

"To date there are 57 United States organizations, medical associations, patient advocacy groups, scientific journals, funding agencies and data collection agencies that have endorsed the Bone and Joint Decade. This is added to the more than 800 organizations worldwide that have thus far endorsed the Bone and Joint Decade effort."

Twenty-one world governments have officially designated the next decade as the Bone and Joint Decade. In the United States, 34 states have proclaimed support of the initiative.

AAOS President S. Terry Canale, MD, focused his comments on the importance of the patient-physician partnership. "Together we can make this–borrowing from [a book written by] Tom Brokaw–not the greatest generation but the greatest decade," Dr. Canale said. "The Bone and Joint Decade is a wonderful opportunity for patients and physicians to work together–I believe we have a great deal to learn from each other…the patient physician partnership is a key part of the Bone and Joint Decade."

Keynote speaker Dorothy Rice, ScD (hon), professor emeritus of health economics, University of California, San Francisco spoke of the need to raise awareness of the immense burden that musculoskeletal disorders place on all societies throughout the world.

"This is an exciting challenge, worthy of a new century, " Rice said in her keynote address. "Musculoskeletal conditions affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.… We need to harness all the resources at our command to raise awareness and educate the world on the increasing societal impact of musculoskeletal injuries and disorders."

Lars Lidgren, MD, PhD, chair of the Bone and Joint Decade International Steering Committee and a central force in starting the international initiative, reported on the global activities of the Bone and Joint Decade. "Our original idea was for the first time to bring patients and professional musculoskeletal organizations to the same table," said Dr. Lidgren. "Joint programs for improving prevention, health care, education and research have proven to be successful for the Decade of the Brain. I’m certain that the Bone and Joint Decade will be a tide that will raise all boats–irrespectively of whether they are small or big–when the passengers are both patients and medical professions."

Amye Leong, a rheumatoid arthritis patient and advocate, spoke eloquently about her disease from the patient perspective.

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