21 June 2016
With busy caseloads, LOC’s orthotists are always on the go. But they’re also very proactive about raising awareness amongst their medical colleagues about how the latest orthotics can help patients. On the 15th June 2016, LOC orthotist Alan Hews and general manager Jo Wyatt joined forces to exhibit at BABICM 2016 Summer Conference – for the British Association of Brain Injury Case Managers. We spoke to Alan to find out what the event was all about, and how bespoke orthotics can assist in promoting mobility and rehabilitation after a brain injury or trauma.
LOC: You have a heavy caseload every week here in our Kingston upon Thames clinic. Why is it important to attend events like BABICM 2016 as well?
Alan: Yes, it’s certainly a challenge fitting everything in sometimes! I was in clinic all day on Tuesday, then we (myself and Jo) travelled up in the evening and attended the event all day Wednesday before travelling back on Wednesday evening - so it was a busy couple of days. But, although this conference wasn’t directly focused on orthotics, I think it was well worth doing. This was an event targeted towards case managers dealing with cases of brain injury, so we spent our time talking to delegates and making them aware that, when patients might benefit from the orthotic provision, they can come to LOC for help. Orthotics can play a significant role in aiding mobility and building quality of life for these patients, so it was great to have the chance to liaise directly with the case managers who are at the sharp end of handling these cases and to make them aware of what’s possible.
LOC: So when we’re talking about brain injury, what types of conditions does that refer to?
Alan: Cerebral palsy is one of the common brain injuries that can occur either before or after birth. We do a lot of work with cerebral palsy patients. Many brain injuries are traumatic. They can be a result of anything from a car accident to drowning - these types of injuries are known as hypoxic brain injuries, where the brain is deprived of oxygen. Brain injuries typically interfere with the brain’s ability to communicate with the spinal and nervous systems, leading to poor positioning, reduced mobility function and also the risk of trips and falls, which can in themselves further compound stability problems. The correct use of orthotics can help to stabilise the limb segment or to facilitate movement, which then gives the patient more independent activity and allows more active function.
LOC: And in these cases, what types of orthotic treatment tend to be most relevant?
Alan: By and large, we’re talking about the application of lower foot and ankle bracing as well as foot orthotics to assist patients who are experiencing contractures as a result of brain trauma. At BABICM 2016, we spoke to a lot of delegates about the potential of those treatments, but we also encountered a fair bit of interest around Lycra garments for patients who require additional stability, whether it be in their wheelchairs or during walking. The case managers who are dealing with brain injury patients liaise heavily with physical and occupational therapists, and those clinicians typically have patients who are in need of the orthotics we provide. So it was great to have the opportunity to signpost those case managers towards our ability to manufacture the devices they know will really help their patients.
LOC: What are the benefits of LOC being able to manufacture our own orthotic devices on-site?
Alan: It’s really all about the speed of provision and the quality of the product, along with the fact that orthotic interventions can potentially be a source of frustration for the patient if they’re poorly manufactured, ill-fitting or ineffective. Because we manufacture our devices onsite we can minimise those three bugbears. Imagine that you’ve got a patient who’s experienced an injury and their foot isn’t allowing them to mobilise in the way they were previously able to. If they then also have to struggle with the very device that’s intended to help them, that can further exacerbate an already difficult situation. The provision of timely and bespoke orthotics is a way of minimising that. If the case manager (on behalf of the patient) is well advised and supported in terms of their medical-legal report then the cost of the orthotics can be covered, allowing them to access gold standard care. Of course, it depends on the individual case, but for us, it’s about going on a journey with the patient that’s designed to achieve the best care and outcome that’s possible in those individual circumstances.
LOC: Helping patients who have experienced a brain injury or trauma must be a difficult experience for you personally. How do you cope with the emotional impact of seeing people, sometimes children, in such a tough situation?
Alan: You do feel it and it can undoubtedly be difficult. But, with time and experience, you become more capable of dealing with it. We’re professionals and our patients rely on us to make the right decisions for them, so it’s very important that you don’t let your personal feelings interfere with your clinical judgements. If I was in contact with people in these circumstances and I couldn’t do anything to help, then the tragedy would be even more difficult to bear. But I am able to help in a very practical way - and that ability to make a positive impact on people’s lives does help you to cope with the emotional impact of working with patients who have often experienced a sudden or serious accident that has profoundly impacted on their quality of life.
We have the following facilities and amenities at our Kingston Upon Thames location:
We also have the Gait Laboratory for orthotics patients and Onsite Manufacturing for speedy turnarounds and adjustments whilst you wait.
We have the following facilities and amenities at our Cambridge location:
For more information about The Beechwood Complementary Medical Practice, please visit The Beechwood Practice.
We have the following facilities and amenities at our Bristol location:
For more information, visit Litfield House Medical Centre.
We have the following facilities and amenities at our Romford location:
There is NO parking directly outside the clinic. These spaces are reserved for residents.
The nearest parking can be found at Billet Lane public pay & display opposite Queens Theatre, a 2-minute walk from the clinic.
Click here for more information about Best Health Clinic
LOC’s clinic is based in the University of Salford’s Podiatry Department and provides treatments for orthotics, scoliosis, pectus deformities, positional plagiocephaly and club foot.
It is also the base for LOC’s northern OSKAR clinic which is run by Sam Walmsley, clinical director of LOC, in conjunction with Elaine Owen MBE MSc SRP MCSP.
Due to COVID-19, we have had to temporarily close the Salford clinic and are operating out of another clinic in Bolton.
508 Blackburn Rd,
For more information, please visit The Good Health Centre
Clothing worn is dependent on which clinic you are attending. You will be sent a letter detailing what clothing to wear along with all other details prior to any appointment at the clinic.
Working with LOC and Elaine has been a great experience – they really take the time to look at your child and understand their individual challenges and needs. For parents who are in the same position that we were, I would say do your research – see what clinics are available near you and what the costs are, but my feeling is it’s worth every penny.
After 10 years of daily physiotherapy and swimming, not to mention SDR, hamstring and tendon lengthening, we have finally achieved independent walking – it was a mother’s day gift that would take some beating.
LOC’s video vector technology measures exactly where Austin’s weight is being distributed, how his hips are moving and how his legs are moving. It’s those insights that have made his new AFOs so effective. Even within a few days, LOC’s splints have had more impact on his independence of movement than anything else we have done.
Since his new orthoses, his change has been remarkable. He is more mobile and can walk independently. Jason is now walking indoors and outdoors and is unrestricted. He is now properly enjoying the summer sunshine for the first time in a few years with no complaints of pain.
It has been a breath of fresh air – LOC’s ability to accommodate Sophie’s circumstances and manufacture her orthotics so quickly has taken a huge amount of potential stress away. Alan talks to Sophie as well - she looks forward to seeing him. He has even been able to fulfil her request to have her SMOs decorated with unicorns! It makes her feel special and much happier about wearing them.
I can now go a mile without having to stop, so it is a lot better and I’m walking in a regular pattern now. The orthotic fits perfectly because LOC took proper mouldings and photographs; they were very thorough.
Amelia was always looking for something to hold on to, now she runs around. Sam really puts in that extra effort to make the clients happy. I’d recommend LOC because they have all the equipment and extremely professional staff who have been trained by world-renowned physiotherapist Elaine Owen.
Lilac just flits about now. Every day she's getting stronger and our expectation now. We are absolutely with The London Orthotics Consultancy for the long haul now. We’ve found a business that can provide what we need and who we trust, and it’s the trust that's the most important thing to us.
My left knee hyperextends and Sam felt he could improve that condition with a different design of brace and also improve my gait with some other adjustments. The brace was such a success that I used it solely after receiving it. I am most thankful to Sam and his colleagues for their dedication to my case and their prompt assistance, which changed a potential disaster into a great tourist visit.
Multidisciplinary teams in business will sit down together and discuss a project with all parties concerned, each adding their particular expertise and insight. This is what it is like at London Orthotic Consultancy (LOC) but on a more personal level: Teamwork is evident. The camaraderie and mutual respect are undeniable. The attention to the smallest achievement is uplifting.
The orthotics help support my foot. Not only that, they have endured daily use, training for the Marathon des Sables, the race itself and they are still going! I am amazed that they survived the MDS and they are still being used today.