On 3rd and 4th June, members of the Clinical Negligence team travelled to the De Vere Staverton Estate, in the heart of Northamptonshire, to attend the fascinating and inspiring 4th Dynamic Rehabilitation Conference 2019, hosted by Dorset Orthopaedic.
With clinics in Ringwood, Hampshire and Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, Dorset Orthopaedic are the UK’s leading provider of prosthetic, orthotic, silicone and rehabilitation services. Using cutting edge technological advancements, they are working to significantly improve the lives of their patients who have suffered amputated limbs or those with conditions relating to spinal injury, multiple sclerosis, strokes and cerebral palsy.
The event kicked off with a three course evening meal and a motivational and entertaining after-dinner speech from former Paralympic swimmer Susie Rodgers MBE, who has scooped an incredible 30 international medals over her career, including a gold and 5 bronze medals at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
The packed agenda commenced the next day with an introduction from Clinical Services Director, and master of ceremonies, Matthew Hughes, before launching into a live demonstration of a below knee casting, with prosthetist Steve Cox showcasing the Symphonie Aqua System. This advanced and unique process has the advantage of enabling a patient’s prosthetic socket to be cast under full weight-bearing conditions. The very game Colin Edwards, farmer and champion of the prosthetic/orthotic cause, was the willing volunteer to be cast, and throughout the day, Matthew interrupted the agenda to go to live broadcasts of the full process, as the cast went to Dorset Orthopaedic’s Burton clinic for completion.
Before departing with the cast, Colin provided an inspiring account of his life as an amputee and his many achievements, including his charity jog around the 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path, with the 870 mile Welsh Coastal Path next in his sights.
We also heard from Josephine Bridges and the brave story of her decision to self-fund and go ahead with a leg amputation, after years of failed treatment following a diagnosis of osteosarcoma. Josephine also promoted her Instagram page, Positive Bones, specifically designed to inspire others in her position and to give a frank and realistic perspective of life as an amputee.
This was followed by a fascinating talk from Consultant Plastic Surgeon, Mr Norbert Kang, on the topic of post-amputation neurological pain. Mr Kang detailed how the pioneering surgical process of Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) – involving the reconnection of damaged nerves to re-grow into new muscles sites – was not only significantly enhancing patients’ control of their myoelectrical prosthetic devices but was also proving beneficial in reducing phantom limb pain.
Osseointegration was the topic of a further presentation in the morning, detailing the advances being made in this surgical procedure that involves a metal implant being inserted directly into the skin, and then the bone, of the residual limb. This expensive surgery, not available on the NHS, has the aim of providing patients with greater socket-free comfort and increased stability.
The morning was rounded off with Sophie Harris telling of her custom-made rowing leg, designed by the Dorset Orthopaedic team, and her dream to join the Paralympic Team GB Squad for Tokyo 2020, which appears to be becoming a reality.
The afternoon session kicked off with an entertaining presentation from John Frijters in respect of MyoPro, a futuristic, robotic upper limb orthotic brace that is making huge strides in enabling patients to move their paralysed arms and hands in order to carry out the normal day-to-day functions we all take for granted.
This was followed with a showcase of Ottobock’s C-Brace 2, another example of advances in technology which are enabling those patients using the same to negotiate tricky slopes, uneven terrain and stairs, with relative ease, as the sensor technology reacts to the environment in its path.
The remaining hours of this packed programme, deftly tied together by Matthew Hughes, dealt largely with rehabilitation, as Consultant Occupational Therapist, Alison Neal, first spoke on her tailored work with patients to ensure that they receive the correct assessment, therapy and training to meet and exceed their long term goals.
Members of Dorset Orthopaedic’s rehabilitation team then went on to detail their intensive, and highly effective, physiotherapy programme, and we heard first hand from a patient as to how the 5 day programme (which involved cycling, walking and a shopping trip to West Quay!) had changed her life.
Another ambassador of the prosthetic /orthotic cause, Hannah Moore – who opted to have her leg amputated when a minor ingrown toenail procedure led to debilitating Complex Regional Pain Syndrome – gave the final personal story of the day, telling of her incredible medal-winning achievements as a para-triathlete, boosted by Dorset Orthopaedic’s running blade and custom made cycling leg.
The conference ended with Colin Edwards’ triumphant return to the venue, complete with his newly fitted prosthetic socket.
The Dynamic Rehabilitation Conference was a hugely entertaining, educational and inspirational event, providing an invaluable insight into the lives of amputees and the treatment and technology working to ensure that those affected can strive for goals way beyond those that they may have reached for as able-bodied individuals.
Here at Blake Morgan LLP, our lawyers in the Clinical Negligence, Personal Injury and Travel teams regularly represent clients who have suffered catastrophic and life changing injuries. It is great to have the opportunity to be informed of the latest technological advances that may substantially improve the quality of our clients’ lives. Clients who have suffered amputated upper or lower limbs could potentially benefit from some of the latest, cutting-edge equipment and surgeries covered in the conference, relating to prosthetics and osseointegration, whilst clients with conditions such as those relating to spinal injury, ‘drop foot’, or cerebral palsy could be assisted by some of the braces exhibited. Attendances at conferences such as this ensure that we are kept abreast of current advancements and, where appropriate, able to include the costs within our clients’ compensation claim.