Sharing Medical Advances in Paediatric Orthotics
Last week saw a major conference for public health workers, Primary Care and Public Health 2016, open its doors to thousands of healthcare professionals. So we’re excited that our very own Orthotist, Sam Walmsley, was invited to speak about the ground breaking work we’re doing with our Gait Laboratory and the Elaine Owen Clinic – and demonstrate the impact our techniques are achieving for our patients.
Sam took the opportunity to tell delegates all about how our Gait Laboratory (a facility that would usually only be available in teaching hospitals), combined with Elaine’s internationally renowned expertise, is achieving real results for patients who are dealing with conditions that affect their strength and movement. Elaine is already widely known for her work with children with movement disorders – often caused by conditions like cerebral palsy and spina bifida - which she has been pioneering for 20 years in the NHS.
Movement Disorders: How the Gait Laboratory and Elaine Owen Clinic Help
The Gait Laboratory equips us to analyse movement to a very sophisticated level. That in turn enables us to produce orthotic devices that give children the rigid support they need to develop bone and muscle strength correctly. This is so important not only in ensuring that children can achieve the maximum movement possible, but also in improving quality of life for not just individual children but for the whole family.
The correct orthotic devices don’t just facilitate improved movement. Any parent whose child needs intensive physiotherapy will know that, nowadays, a lot of the exercises, massage and stretching falls to the parents to conduct on a daily basis. It’s a lot to handle and can put a lot of strain on everyday life. But, in many cases, correctly designed and fitting AFOs, splints and braces can help to achieve ongoing physical benefits simply through the process of wearing the device.
Not to mention the benefits of ensuring that children are comfortable and confident in their orthoses. Knowing that your child is not in pain, that their device fits properly, that they feel confident going about their everyday life, can participate at school and feel generally happy with their treatment can make a huge difference to parents and siblings alike.
In orthotic treatment, our priority is to ensure the correct development of bones and muscles – which also has the impact of reducing the likelihood of invasive surgery later in life. At LOC we are extremely committed to the results that Elaine has demonstrated through her innovative techniques, which are born out of a lifetime’s experience as a practitioner.
One example of this is our lovely young patient Aran, aged 10, who first visited us after undergoing selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery in the USA. Diagnosed with diplegia cerebral palsy, Aran was in need of intensive rehabilitation on his return to the UK, as is the case for the majority of patients who undergo this surgery.
Orthotics play a large part in this rehabilitation, but medical opinion varies as to what the best course of action is. In the USA, the belief is that recovering patients should be put into normal footwear as soon as possible. Elaine’s approach is different, providing bespoke AFO devices that give much more rigid support to different areas of the lower body.
The result? After years of very limited movement, Aran took his first independent steps just a week after receiving his first AFOs from LOC. Two months later and Mum Kurda tells us that he can now walk for five metres independently – something that until recently she never thought he would do.
We’re proud of what Aran has achieved through a combination of his and his family’s determination and perseverance, surgical intervention and our orthotic rehabilitation programme – and Sam was delighted to be able to share these advances with the UK’s health professionals at Primary Care and Public Health 2016.