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In the News

St. Louis’ Dr. Spitznagle Named to Worldwide Fistula Fund Board

February 26, 2015

WU Associate Professor Improves Health Care for Women in Africa

WFF Headquarters: Schaumburg, IL — Local Associate Professor and Residency Coordinator at Washington University joins the Worldwide Fistula Fund (WFF) Board to bring health services to underserved women in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr. Theresa M. Spitznagle is currently both Associate Professor in Physical Therapy and Residency Coordinator in diagnosis and management of impairments in women’s health at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Spitznagle leads the WFF Rehabilitation Advisory Council and a national team of physiotherapy professionals in developing best practices and protocols for post-surgical fistula rehabilitation.

After graduating from Marquette University, Dr. Spitznagle completed both her Masters of Health Science in Physical Therapy and her post-professional Doctorate in Physical Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis. She’s a proud member of the inaugural class of board-certified Women’s health Clinical Specialists (WCS) and received the 2011 Women’s Health Elizabeth Noble award. She looks forward to improving outcomes and accelerating the recovery of women who have suffered fistulas across Sub-Saharan Africa through her WFF Board Membership.

Additionally, Michael Wittek is named Chair; Chris Payne is named Vice Chair; past Board Chair, Nancy Muller, now serves as Treasurer and Terry Wall is named Secretary. Our Founder, Lewis Wall, has made time to rejoin the Board as Director Emeritus.

WFF is dedicated to eradicating obstetric fistula, a devastating childbirth injury sustained during prolonged, obstructed labor when a baby cannot fit through a mother’s birth canal. Pressure from obstructed labor destroys tissue normally separating the mother’s vagina from her bladder or rectum – leaving a hole with continuous, uncontrollable leakage of urine or feces.

A woman suffering an obstetric fistula is often abandoned by her husband, shunned by her community and living in isolation. An estimated two million girls and women in developing nations currently suffer from an obstetric fistula. Obstetric fistula is both preventable and treatable.

Built by WFF, Danja Fistula Center (DFC) in Niger has performed over 500 surgeries to date at no cost to the patients. All surgical and clinical care is provided by our African expert fistula surgeon. With local partner, TERREWODE, WFF supports treatment and fistula survivor training through the Women’s Reintegration Center in Uganda. A network of community advocacy groups identifies and refers Ugandan women in need of care, provides support through survivor peer groups and prevents fistula through community education. WFF empowers fistula survivors in both Niger and Uganda with literacy education and skills to earn income once they return home. Tailoring, commercial food preparation, creating perfume and making jewelry are some of the vocational classes available.

By Training OB-GYNs in Ethiopia, WFF helps prevent obstetric fistulas in sub-Saharan Africa and increases access to expert care. WFF Founder, Dr. Wall, helped Mekelle University in Ethiopia develop collaborative partnerships to: enhance residency training in obstetrics-gynecology, bring experts in reconstructive pelvic surgery to Ethiopia, develop Ethiopia’s first sub-specialist fellowship training program in urogynecology and conduct research to improve future clinical treatment protocols.

To interview Dr. Spitznagle or learn more about WFF please contact Director of Communications, Soja Orlowski, at or call (847) 264-5971 (day), (312) 342-8896 (eve).

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