June 2002 Bulletin

President proclaims National Bone and Joint Decade

Bush proclamation a "tremendous boon" to the Decade

(l to R) Mark Wieting, AAOS vice president of educational programs, and William Tipton, Jr., AAOS executive vice president, welcomed Wyeth Pharmaceuticals representatives Peggy Webster, Director, Global Professional Affairs, and Anthony O'Hehir, Senior Product Manager, and Toby King, BJD acting executive director, to the recent meeting of the AAOS Corporate Advisory Council. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals is one of the first founding supporters of the GJD.

By Carolyn Rogers

March 21, 2002 was a pivotal day in the history of the Bone and Joint Decade (BJD). Years of hard work and persistence on the part of many people paid off that Thursday when President Bush signed a proclamation designating the years 2002-2011 as the National Bone and Joint Decade.

"This endorsement came at a crucial time in the history of the Bone and Joint Decade," says Stuart L. Weinstein, MD, chair of the BJD U.S. National Action Network. "The ball is now squarely in our court to make the goals of the Decade a reality."

Although the Decade officially began in the year 2000, until now the BJD had only a letter of support—not a formal declaration—from former President Clinton.

"We never gave up on the idea of getting a presidential proclamation," Dr. Weinstein says. "Through several members of the Academy and primarily through one person, we were able to get to President Bush and receive a formal declaration of the Decade. This proclamation has made a huge difference in this effort—people are now very receptive. It’s really a tremendous boon, and we’re ready to move forward in a much more rapid and focused pace."

A little help from a friend

Academy member and orthopaedic surgeon Charles M. Younger, MD, of Midland, Texas, played a crucial role in securing the presidential proclamation. Dr. Younger is a lifelong friend of the president as well as a jogging partner.

"I discussed the goals of the Bone and Joint Decade with the president and his staff, and they were very accommodating about it," Dr. Younger says. "But it was due primarily to the persistence and determination of Dr. Weinstein that this came about. Also, I believe we could have accomplished it sooner had not the events surrounding Sept. 11 taken the spotlight. It was before the president at that time, but understandably it got lost in the shuffle."

Dr. Younger visited with the president again in mid-May. "The president was clearly delighted to facilitate this proclamation and sign on to this important cause," Dr. Younger reports. "He himself has benefited from advances in bone and joint surgery as have his parents, both having undergone hip replacements and knee arthroscopy. He’s very active physically and he knows the importance of exercise and health and prevention and maintenance of the body—specifically the bones and joints. So he was delighted to join on to the effort."

Collaboration is the key

The BJD is a global campaign to improve the health-related quality of life for people affected by musculoskeletal conditions and to advance the understanding and treatment of these conditions through research, prevention and education. The Decade has officially been endorsed by 39 national governments and 750 healthcare organizations worldwide. In the United States, the initiative has been endorsed by 60 healthcare physician and patient organizations, all 50 states. Now, the endorsement by President Bush gives it national recognition.

The key to the success of the BJD, though, is the development of new collaborative partnerships aimed at achieving the goals of the Decade, according to Dr. Weinstein. "This isn’t just an orthopaedic movement," he says. "Its success really depends on collaborations between partners such as patient advocacy groups, industry, musculoskeletal associations, care providers, researchers and patients. We all can accomplish our goals more effectively by working with others."

U.S. National Action Network moving ahead

Although the Academy plays a leadership role in the U.S. BJD, "At this point in time, the U.S. National Action Network is a true coalition and a shared responsibility," Dr. Weinstein says.

Dr. Weinstein leads the U.S. National Action Network, working with 14 national organizations on the steering committee to plan and execute programs. Partner organizations include the American College of Rheumatology, American Osteopathic Association, American Physical Therapy Foundation, Arthritis Foundation, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and others.

"The American Academy of Pediatrics recently came on (continued on p. 44) board, and we’re very excited about that," Dr. Weinstein says. "It’s a real boost to the Decade and to childhood musculoskeletal conditions."

In February, the steering committee created the United States Bone and Joint Decade, Inc., a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, which will allow the group to conduct fundraising efforts for BJD-specific projects.

New BJD office, staff

The newly incorporated organization couldn’t move ahead sufficiently on volunteer help alone, so the steering committee voted to hire professional staff for fundraising, communication and program development.

To that end, Toby King began work in April as acting executive director of the U.S. Bone and Joint Decade. King operates out of the new U.S. BJD office, located in the AAOS headquarters building in Rosemont, Ill. Another partner organization volunteered office space as well, but that office wouldn’t have been available until late in the summer, King explains.

One of King’s first duties was to work on raising funds for the Decade. The first two U.S. BJD "founding supporters" are Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Smith & Nephew, King reports.

"An increasing number of significant BJD project ideas are coming forward," King says, "but it’s going to take us many months, probably a year or 18 months, to build those up. That’s why we need founding support—we really can’t do it without the sustenance to get through those 12 to 18 months."

"This is our moment"

In 1990, President George H. Bush proclaimed the 1990s to be the "Decade of the Brain." According to Dr. Weinstein, that decade was a phenomenal success from a research standpoint, generating greatly increased funding for brain research. Now, with the ink still wet on the President George W. Bush’s proclamation of the Bone and Joint Decade, "this is our moment," King says. "It’s time to spread the word and take advantage of the special attention bone and joint conditions have been afforded.

"Now is a golden opportunity for every member of the Academy to spread the word about the Decade to their colleagues, other physicians, specialists, nurses and, of course, their patients," King says. "If you’re involved in chapters or specialty societies, spread the word there. Print the BJD logo on your letterhead, brochures, or other material you’re involved in publishing, wear a BJD button, or use the Decade as a platform from which to be invited to talk to groups about your particular area of expertise."

Interested members can contact Toby King to obtain camera-ready samples of the BJD logo for use in their print materials.

BJD projects and activities

While awareness is crucial to the success of the Decade, real value is brought to it through projects and activities, King says.

"The first way groups can take advantage of the Decade is by looking at activities they’ve already got in place to see how they might tie in to the Decade. In turn, they can benefit from the communication network that the Decade is increasingly creating, in order to share and distribute more information about bone and joint diseases."

Dr. Weinstein points to the Academy as an example. "The Academy—particularly the Council on Communications —has incorporated the BJD into everything we do," he says. "Public relations has done a phenomenal job with BJD projects like the USA Today supplement and the e-Motion Pictures art exhibition."

Another way for groups to develop BJD projects is to look at ideas they haven’t been able to advance to their full potential, King says. "With the Decade in place, perhaps these could become BJD activities, or you might want to partner with the Decade on to advance the projects beyond original expectations. The Decade is not averse to partnering on an idea and going out to get the funding for it."

Developing "cross-horizontal partnerships" is a third way of developing projects.

"The hip fracture conference was an outstanding example of this," King explains. "Eleven groups came together last year to create the ‘National Consensus Conference on Improving the Continuum of Care for Patients with Hip Fractures,’ which was sponsored by the Academy, four of the BJD partners and six other organizations."

Forty organizations attended the conference, which sought solutions to the morbidity, mortality and loss of independence faced by patients with hip fracture and to make recommendations for improving the continuum of care.

Any number of associations, big or small, can come together in the same way to address a common problem, King points out. "For instance, Decade partners that deal with arthritis, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis are now coming together to study whether there are pertinent issues they could partner on and address in a way similar to the hip fracture conference," he says.

Media teleconferences

One BJD project already moving ahead is a regular media teleconference that will address a different musculoskeletal theme each time. In May, the AAOS partnered with the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation to present a teleconference on back pain. Different musculoskeletal organizations will partner for future teleconferences, depending on the topic.

The teleconference themes will be fairly broad, such as spinal disorders, trauma, osteoarthritis, and women in sports. The 30-minute teleconferences will feature four physicians, each taking a different approach to the subject. Individual presentations will last 2-3 minutes, after which the media will be invited to ask questions.

BJD National Awareness Week

Another BJD project—National Bone and Joint Decade Awareness Week—will take place Oct. 12-20, 2002. "Ideal activities for this week will be broadly-based grassroots activities that include all ages, and that can happen right across the country, " King says. "Bone density testing in retail stores and presentations in schools, for example. The more people who can get out there in schools, clubs and colleges talking about what they’re involved in, the better."

A third U.S. BJD activity "in the works" is a program of clubfoot clinics to be held across the county. "Four clinics will be presented in different areas of the country to teach surgeons how to fix clubfoot using the Ponseti Method," King says. "If we can make a success of it nationally, then we’ll take it to the international BJD group."

Contact the BJD

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions concerning the Bone and Joint Decade, please contact Toby King at U.S. BJD headquarters at (847) 384-4010; or e-mail him at tobyking@usbjd.org.

The global Web site for the Decade is www.boneandjointdecade.org; the U.S. Web site is http://www.usbjd.org/.

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