Health Services,

Cameron takes first steps with help of allied health

Learning to walk is one of life’s earliest milestones, but re-learning how to walk as an adult, when both legs have been amputated, is a challenge few would anticipate.

However, with the help of Latrobe Regional Health’s (LRH) Orthotics and Prosthetics Department, Benambra resident Cameron Guyatt is taking the first steps to a new life.

“My right leg was amputated several years ago due to vascular complications. In March this year my left leg was removed below the knee and for one reason  or another, it’s taken  until now for my new prostheses to be fitted. And it’s amazing,” Cameron said.

For a prosthesis to be effective there is a measuring, casting, fitting and trialling process to make sure the new limb meets the needs of the patient.

“We take casts of what remains of the leg and then mould and shape the cast so that the patient can wear it comfortably, LRH Prosthetist Rhys George said. “Following that, there is the fitting and adjustment of the prosthetic legs to make sure Cameron can stand, walk, climb stairs and do all the other things for a full life.”

LRH’s orthotics and prosthetics service covers an area from outer Melbourne to the NSW border and works with approximately 200 patients each year to assess, build and fit prosthetic limbs, mostly legs.

Together with colleagues in other health disciplines such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy, the orthotics and prosthetics team works with the patient to reach their goals.

“It’s an individualised approach. It has to be. Not only is every patient a unique personality, but the requirements to fit the prosthetic mean that it’s never a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

All prostheses for our patients are custom-made on site here at LRH, and normally takes around 6-8 weeks to complete the process from start to finish. The customised sockets are made from fibre glass or carbon fibre, and are used with aluminium or titanium components to make a completely unique device for the user, Rhys said.

For Cameron, this individualised approach meant a prostheses with a bit of extra flair.

“Cameron expressed an interest in changing up the colour scheme a little so we were happy to work with him on it,” Rhys said.

The result is a quite stunning pair of prostheses reflecting what Cameron calls ‘fire and lightening’.

“Having two prostheses, I didn’t want to get them mixed up and put the left one on the right leg, so Rhys was able to come up with a pretty cool design incorporating flames and ice designs. They look great!” Cameron said.

Aesthetics apart, Cameron is looking forward to getting back home and on with his life.

“This means I can get back home, see my family and not have to be stuck at home all day. I can go shopping, round to a friend’s place. Just enjoy life again,” he said