In the News
Harness of hope: Invention from mother of wheelchair-bound son helps him and other physically impaired children walk for the first time
Debby Elnatan invented the Upsee to help her son who has cerebral palsy
Harness attaches to an adult and allows child to stand upright and walk
Now on sale globally via Northern Ireland-based manufacturer Leckey
Read more:Click here
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Today we heard that former National Centre Orthotist Peter McLachlan is facing a fight with cancer and his friends have got together to start a Facebook page to help race the funds for his treatment in New York please find the details below and a note of the Facebook page. If you are able to help one of our O&P family out in his hour on need then please do.
Rag-bag – many local organisations will pay for bric a brac
Auction yourself – got a trade or skill that can be auctioned for a day/session
As Ian has posted previously I have recently had the good fortune to visit Uganda as part of the Uganda Polio Project team The aims of the project are two-fold. In conjunction with a group of developmental economists at the University of Nottingham, an impact evaluation is taking place to determine the effects of providing orthoses to disabled people on their income, education and employment, amongst other things. This type of study is important as it will hopefully show that there is a long-term impact of orthotic intervention and that the resources, both in terms of equipment and man-hours, are having an quantifiable effect on the lives of the disabled. This is unique to this project, as many such projects to do not have the capacity to undertake this type of analysis.
Further work has been done to transfer knowledge of the clinical and material technology skills which is equally as important as this will ensure that the local orthotic staff in Uganda receive more up to date skills and techniques to further the knowledge-base of their profession. Work is now underway to formally establish the project as a UK-registered charity and secure our links with the relevant institutions in Uganda, so that on a long-term basis the equipment and skills will continue to be channelled where most needed.
The project is now in its second year, although this is the first time I have been involved. For the first few days there I felt like a fish out of water. The vast majority of work we undertook involved conventional orthoses – something I have never manufactured in my time as an orthotic technician. Fortunately I had Paul Harris from the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, Oxford to guide me. After those first few days, however, I felt much happier.
Basically, the work involved drafts being taken, a “near as dammit” KAFO being found from the many UK donated goods that had been shipped over there in the weeks before. This device was then stripped and taken apart, steels and bands rebent and re-riveted, then refitted to the patient. Paul and I were the only technicians in the team of 9 orthotists, 2 physios and 1 O.T. but we were fortunate that many of the clinicians were very capable in the technical department and all of them could more than hold their own with the majority of adjustments.
Amongst the more frustrating aspects was the time spent stripping old devices before you could actually begin making the “new” KAFO. That and trying to find the tools that you had only just put down, and that someone else had picked up and walked off with!
The facilities left something to be desired too (as you would probably expect?), there was no lighting in the workshop, which was fine when the sun was shining (90% of the time), but when the clouds came over, you could barely see what you were doing. This is when everyone made for the windows to use what little light there was to carry on working. A fifth of the workshop area had no proper roofing, so when it did rain the water just came pouring through the ceiling. And let’s not even mention the toilets!
However the appreciation and sheer cheerfulness of the Ugandan staff and patients was something to behold. It is a dreary cliché, but many of the moans and worries of we have back here pale into insignificance when set against the kind of obstacles they have to contend with on a daily basis. We saw patients that crawled in on hands and knees, mothers carrying disabled teenagers into the hospital grounds across their backs. We treated over 600 patients in the 2 weeks we were there, Including many children in the last few days, who, with a vast range of issues, were helped by the team of orthotists, physios and O.T’s.
It was one of the most enjoyable, though very challenging, experiences I have ever had. I was asked in the middle of the first week if I would do it again. I said ask me again in the second week. By the beginning of the second week the answer was a resounding yes.
If any of you get the chance to go, I would highly recommend it.
Visit http://ugandapolioproject.com/ and the facebook site for more details
Many thanks to Phil for is insight to his trip, over the next view weeks we will be uploading more of his pictures from the trip.
A new state-of-the-art prosthetics service for military amputees has been launched by the Scottish government.
The service provides equipment which can anticipate movements and adapt instantly, to act as close to a natural limb as possible.
It is based in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with links to the rest of the country.
Ministers were meeting with one veteran who stood on an explosive device during a tour in the Nad-E-Ali district of Afghanistan in 2010.
Steven Richardson, from East Lothian, lost his legs and some fingers on both hands in the blast.
It is estimated there are about 66 military amputees in Scotland. The rehabilitation centres in Glasgow and Edinburgh will have telehealth links to Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee.
Visiting the Astley Ainslie Hospital Health in Edinburgh, Secretary Alex Neil said: “It is only right that our veterans, who have risked their lives for this country, receive world-class services through our NHS.
“Scotland is already leading the way in prosthetic care and this new specialist service is a fantastic example of the NHS using innovative technologies to deliver 21st Century healthcare.”
The service follows recommendations set out in a report by Dr Andrew Murrison on NHS prosthetics for veterans, particularly those from recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The UK government asked Dr Murrison, a Conservative MP, to review prosthetic services after concerns were raised by some charities that the NHS may not be able to provide care to the same standard as the Defence Medical Service provided by the Ministry of Defence.
Ian Waller, director of support and communications at the British Limbless Ex Service Men’s Association, said: “We are encouraged by the clear message this sends to our members in Scotland; that their needs have been recognised, considered and are being addressed.”
A student has designed an artificial limb with a changeable cover to reflect the wearer’s mood, inspired by a friend who lost a leg. Nottingham Trent University undergraduate Jonathan Bradshaw wanted to provide amputees with an affordable way of reflecting their sense of style. It followed research in which he found appearance to be as important as comfort among younger people. School friend and amputee Amy Bosley described it as “a stroke of genius”.
Jonathan’s prototype features a removable casing system which provides protection to the prosthetic leg’s internal components.It has aluminium brackets and the casing clips on and off by hand with a quick release mechanism.
The changeable covers are attached to the casing with press studs and the quick release casing allows people to change the covers with ease by avoiding the need to bend down.
The different looks can be changed in a matter of minutes and the fabric is washable.
It will go on public display at the university’s Art and Design Degree Shows at the city site campus between 31 May and 8 June.
The 23-year-old came up with the idea for a product design project after becoming intrigued by some amputees who use wheelchairs rather than artificial legs.
Read more on this here at the BBC website >>
While looking around the web I found this new patient group who were unhappy with their local Orthotic service so set up this group to help improve their service and it appears to have worked. Why not have a look at their web site.
North Staffs Orthotic Campaign
We are a group of service users and their families and carers, who feel let down by the level of Orthotics Service provided at the University Hospital of North Staffordshire. Together we want to work towards improving the situation.
Click here to view their web site.
Murray Hambro is no ordinary motorcycle racer. For a start, the 33-year-old is racing in a national championship after just a handful of races.
Secondly, he and his team are all novices.
Finally, he is a double amputee, with no legs from just below the knee.
In December 2010, Hambro was serving as a Lance Corporal in theSecond Royal Tank Regiment in Afghanistan when his tank drove over a 65kg roadside bomb.
Hambro, who was at the top of the tank in the turret, was sent flying by the force of the explosion. So was a passenger in the tank.
“The explosion blew all the doors off and the passenger was projected out of the vehicle,” explains Hambro.
“He lost one of his legs and his spleen. I was sent 40 feet up in the air, came down and landed on my side. My injuries included breaking all the bones in my feet, breaking my pelvis, ripping my liver and spleen, six fractured vertebrae at the top of my neck, and the all-important one, I cut my nose.
“It was a pretty big one.”
The driver was also injured, suffering a broken arm and a broken ankle. “He got lucky,” says Hambro.
First on the scene was a colleague from the vehicle directly behind.
“He leapt out and did the whole Baywatch thing,” Hambro recalls. “Running in slow motion through the dust and dirt.
“He gave me first aid and just sorted me out. He told me not to look at my legs and made sure I got out of there alive.”
Hambro gave his son Harley, who was born in March 2013, the middle name Nicholas, after the friend who risked his life to give him that first aid.
After being evacuated under fire to Camp Bastion in Helmand Province and then being transported on to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Hambro remembers the feeling of relief when he was told by a consultant he had fractured both feet in the explosion.
“I was happy with that,” he says. “I thought: ‘Well, a bit of plaster for maybe six to eight weeks and I’ll be up and about again.’
“But then he said: ‘The right one is a no-brainer, it’s got to come off. We could try to rebuild the left but you will be in and out of hospital for the next two to three years and the end result could be you lose it anyway.’
“So I thought: ‘While they’re at it they may as well have both feet.’ Within 48 hours of getting to hospital, I was a double amputee.”
The naturally optimistic Hambro admits having “a few bad days” coming to terms with losing his legs. After 11 years in the army, he was facing an uncertain future but was determined to walk again by August 2011, in time for his wedding.
In fact, he managed to take his first steps by the end of February, just three months after his double amputation.
He was back out on the roads on a newly-modified motorbike by April of that year, against the advice of his surgeons.
“After my operation, the surgeon asked me what my hobbies were,” he remembers. “I told him: ‘I ride motorbikes.’ He looked at me and told me to get a new hobby.”
But Hambro, who had started riding motorbikes at the age of seven in fields near his home, was not to be deterred. After a particularly bad day of pain and discomfort, he treated himself to a new Triumph motorbike.
He did not know if he would even be able to ride without legs but set about finding out.
The rear brake, which is normally operated by the right foot of a motorcyclist, is now housed on the right handlebar and is controlled by Hambro’s thumb.
The gear lever, usually operated by a rider’s left foot, has been replaced by up and down shift buttons on the left handlebar. A similar system is used on Hambro’s race bike.
Moving about on the bike was the biggest problem, as he found his feet were slipping off the footpegs. So he drilled a hole in his boot to allow him to ‘attach’ it to the bike. That helped a lot.
Being back on the road was an important step in proving that his disability would not prevent him leading the life he wanted to.
“I was nervous the first time I went out on the road,” Hambro says. “I didn’t know what to make of it.
“But my family were just as keen for me to get out on the bike as I was. My wife and I used to go out together a lot before, with her on the back, so to be able to do that again was great. She loves it. It gave us some normality back.”
After getting married, Murray was introduced to Phil Spencer, who asked if he would be interested in joining his race team, True Heroes Racing. Hambro had never ridden competitively before.
The team is run in association with theAfghan Heroes charity , which was set up by Denise Harris, the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, and aims to help wounded service personnel who have returned to the UK.
Despite admitting that they had no real idea what they were doing, Spencer and Hambro managed nine weekends of club racing last year before securing a place in this season’sTriumph Triple Challenge, a support class in the British Superbike championship.
“My first race was very daunting,” Hambro admits. “I still had my road riding head on, guys were coming up to lap me and I was just pulling over and letting them through.
“I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. I then got chatting to the other racers and they told me I had to be more aggressive and hold my lines. So I adopted that philosophy and stuck to it.
“Overtaking my first rider felt like a race win.”
This season has not been straightforward for True Heroes Racing. They have suffered technical problems, struggled to set up a new bike after it arrived late, while Hambro slid into a tyre wall at Thruxton after an 80 mile-per-hour crash.
He has approached all these obstacles with the same black humour. After all, this is a man who has “LEGLESS” embroidered on the back of his race leathers and a tattoo of himself being blown up on his back. He also has a personalised number plate that spells out “No Feet” on his car.
When he says he doesn’t do “self-pity”, he certainly means it.
True Heroes Racing are already looking to expand next season and hope to be able to help other injured serviceman who are coming through rehab get a new lease of life.
“My job used to involve people throwing grenades at me. so I guess it makes racing less scary,” Hambro says.
“I still get nervous on the track but you’d be crazy if you weren’t. I know that nothing serious will happen to me. The worst-case scenario is a broken bone or two.”
He says his naturally positive mindset and “sick” sense of humour have been key in adapting to his new life.
“In Afghanistan, everyone is out to kill you so it’s a different ball game altogether,” he says. “There are low points, days when it is painful and you struggle to get up and think: ‘Why isn’t this working?’ But I don’t have too many.
“If I feel like I’m having a bad day, then I do something to cheer myself up. The team name is True Heroes, but I don’t consider myself a hero at all. If anything, I was stupid enough to get blown up.”
LimbPower Trustee Damian MacDonald lined up with thirty thousand other eager competitors to take part in the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, but Damian had the added challenge of doing this as a below knee amputee.
Damian had his left leg amputated below the knee in April 1987 as the result of injuries sustained during a road traffic accident. Damian spent the next 20 years managing his life but without a network of support from others in the same situation.
All that changed in 2008 when he attended the Amputee Games (now the LimbPower Games) and got involved with cycling. He was overjoyed to discover a whole community of amputees and has been dedicated ever since to expanding that community and reaching other amputees who are isolated as he once was.
In 2010 Damian was invited to become a Trustee of LimbPower and has since completed many challenges on behalf of the charity, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2010, cycling from London to Paris in 2011 and completing the 100km NightRider event last year.
However, running was a new challenge for Damian and it was with some trepidation that he took his place on the start line for the London Marathon. “It was a fantastic experience. The support from the public and other participants was even greater than anticipated and without a doubt helped keep me smiling through the discomfort over the last 25 miles…” Damian recalls, “I can now tick ‘Complete A Marathon’ off my bucket list.“
LimbPower were very proud to see Damian achieve such an ambitious goal and were there to cheer him on. Chairman Kiera Roche said; “This was such a personal goal for Damian and it was fantastic to see him do it. He’s an inspiration for so many amputees and we are very grateful to have him as part of our team.”
For more info on LimbPower visit their website: limbpower.com