Greater support for arm amputees through local Rehab. Centre


Arm amputees will be able to benefit from artificial, mechanical arms through the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre now that it is equipped to create these artificial arms.

According to a release from the centre, six patients have successfully received new artificial arms following a one-week Capacity-Building Programme for staff of its J.E. Simmons Orthotic and Prosthetic Appliance Workshop, and local Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists.

Importantly, one patient was fitted with a myoelectric arm – a first in Guyana.

Myoelectric refers to the electric properties of muscles. And the centre explained that myoelectric-controlled artificial limb is an externally powered artificial limb that an individual controls with the electrical signals generated naturally by their own muscles.

A myoelectric arm is operated when electrodes pick up muscle impulses from the residual limb. These muscle impulses (signals) are then translated into electrical signals that are sent to the electric hand to open or close it. A battery in the artificial limb provides the power.

It was noted that the Occupational Therapists at the centre assisted in evaluation of the potential client receiving a myoelectric prosthesis. Using a myo-testing system, strong muscle sites were identified for electrode placement, which were then used to assist the prosthetists in the fabrication process.

Upon completion of fabrication, the Occupational Therapists assisted in training the client in building independence using the device including grasp and release of various items, bilateral hand tasks and assisting them with activities of daily living.

This programme was made possible through collaboration with ProsthetiKa, a California-based non-profit organisation which utilises a global network of consultants to provide appropriate and sustainable training in the field of prosthetics, orthotics and rehabilitation services in developing countries.

Amy Souster, Physiotherapist (centre) during a session training local Physiotherapist on the use of a PPAM Aid (Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility Aid)

The centre noted that this year’s training is the Centre’s third major collaboration with ProsthetiKa, and was facilitated by a team consisting of the group’s founder and director Jon Batzdorff, who is a Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist (CPO); Estrada Fuentes, CPO; Physiotherapist Amy Souster, and Occupational Therapist Angela Gree,.

It was noted that Batzdorff previously coordinated a “Lower Limb Prosthesis” workshop in 2018 and “Lower Limb and Spinal Orthosis” in 2019. These programmes both received funding from PAHO/WHO Guyana and enabled 25 persons to be fitted with prostheses, and 18 persons to receive spinal and lower limb orthoses (bracing), respectively.

The centre’s Rehabilitation Officer Dr. Mellisa Corlette-Sengwe and Supervisor of the Appliance Workshop Kingsley Isiguzo expressed their elation at the Centre now being able to fabricate better prostheses for persons with upper extremity amputations, which it was previously limited in doing.

This training, the release noted, has significantly enhanced the skillset of the centre’s orthotic & prosthetic staff, and enables a much-needed extension in service provision.

The centre also made history by becoming the first organisation in Guyana to acquire a Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility (PPAM) Aid, making Guyana in turn one of only two countries in South America to be equipped with one.

It was explained that PPAM Aid is a device used in the rehabilitation of patients with lower limb amputations and helps to assess a patient’s ability to use an artificial limb, help the wound to heal and prepare patients to walk with an artificial limb.

Benefits of a PPAM Aid also include reducing swelling, improving balance, preparing the limb for a prosthesis, decreasing pain and decreasing phantom sensation, amongst others. Local Physiotherapists were trained by Ms. Amy Souster on the use of the device.

These achievements also come just a few days following the Centre’s 55th Anniversary. The Ptolemy Reid Centre was established on January 19, 1967 and offers a comprehensive range of rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities.

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