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PT Spreads Hope Overseas

Tuesday, August 1, 2017   (9 Comments)
Posted by: Matthew Nicholas
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How One PT is Spreading Hope Overseas

“I love my job because this is where my passion and skill set meet.”

For as long as Nick Veltjens, PT could remember, all he has ever wanted to do was practice physical therapy – or physiotherapy, as they say in his native country of Australia. It wasn’t until Veltjens was working on his Post-Graduate Diploma in Ministry Studies when he asked himself “How can I use my skills to impact the world around me for good and for God?”

This is when Nick discovered Mercy Ships.

Mercy Ships is a non-governmental faith-based organization providing humanitarian aid such as free treatment and health education to patients that have little to no access to healthcare.

The Ship’s crew is composed of medical volunteers from across the globe providing lifesaving surgery and treatment to those with nowhere else to turn. They work with the host nations to strengthen the local healthcare delivery system while serving the surgical needs for hosting countries.

With more than 70% of the world’s population without access to adequate treatment, Veltjens and the Mercy Ship crew bring hope and the power of healing to the impoverished.

Currently, Veltjens works as the Ponseti Clinic Coordinator on the ship.  When docked in each of the African nations Mercy Ships visits, Veltjens mentors local clinicians on how to treat clubfeet using the Ponseti Method. The Ponseti Method is a manipulative technique that has been accepted worldwide as the gold standard of treatment for congenital clubfoot, without the need of invasive surgery. The Ship’s Rehab Team also provides free surgical intervention for musculoskeletal conditions and offers physical therapy onboard and trains local partners on how to cast and manufacture braces.

“The most rewarding experiences have been when I realized when we are no longer needed” says Veltjens. By the end of the ships 10 months in port, the rehab team leaves confident that they have left behind a lasting impact and a very strong Ponseti Clinic, capable of treating future cases of clubfeet.

“After we leave, I love getting updates from the local clinics and clinicians about their continued success.”

Even when he’s half way across the globe, Veltjens stays current with the physical therapy events in Illinois - and even connected.

As a current member of the IPTA, Veltjens often tunes into our monthly #THIRDTHURSDAY and Spotlight on Research webinars.

“My heart and life are very much based in Africa and being an IPTA member keeps me up to date with what is happening in USA and allows me to maintain my continuing education requirements whilst being overseas.”

To learn more about Mercy Ships, or to donate to the cause, visit

If you are interested in having an inside look into what life and work is like on a hospital ship in Africa, visit Nick Veltjen’s blog at


Michael T. Vogel PT says...
Posted Monday, August 21, 2017
Nick, what a great story! Thank you for your hard work and dedication. Best wishes on your continued journey. God Bless, Michael
Linda Griffith, Special Programs Manager says...
Posted Monday, August 14, 2017
Thank you for being such a positive role model and bringing hope to those who are so often hopeless and forgotten! Good luck and thanks again for making such a difference! Linda Griffith
Jeannette Elliott PT DPT MS says...
Posted Sunday, August 13, 2017
Faith + Action = passion! Great to read the article Nick and knowing how your faith in action brings hope to others. Really enjoyed your blog about where you and Suzanne have been and where you're going. Safe travels/sailing to Cameroon!
Gail R. Johnson PT says...
Posted Friday, August 11, 2017
What an inspiration and advocate you are, Nick, for our profession and those of us driven to serve! Thanks for sharing and God bless! Gail
Lisa M. Zemaitis PTA MBA says...
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2017
Nick, Thank you for sharing your experiences providing help to those who may have only dreamed of these treatments. On behalf of your Illinois PTA's, we are proud and inspired by your service in the therapy profession. Kind Regards, Lisa Zemaitis, PTA Director
Michael R. Riley PT says...
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2017
Nick, Truly an amazing story that continues. I thank you on behalf of all PT's in Illinois. I can only imagine the gratitude that the individuals and families have for the services provided by your organization. Physical therapy can and does make a difference. Mike Riley PT
Julie L. Rosen PT says...
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2017
Nick thanks for sharing your experience and doing this much needed service. Julie Rosen, PT
Colleen Flannery, Executive Director says...
Posted Thursday, August 10, 2017
Nick, Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us. You are truly a special person and I hope you will continue to update us on your work. Kind regards, Colleen Flannery
Jennifer M. Ryan PT DPT MS says...
Posted Thursday, August 3, 2017
Nick, I am so glad that you shared the story of your work since it is so inspiring to those who already know and love the profession as well as those who need to know how physical therapy can touch lives. Thank you for bettering our profession by using your skills to make the greatest impact. Best, Jennifer

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