Artificial limb unit brings hope

2014-11-18 00:00

FROM matching the colour of an artificial limb to “implanting” tiny hairs to make them look more realistic, it’s all in a days work for Andile Ndletje.

He works as a technician at the Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics Unit launched at the Wentworth Hospital by the Durban University of Technology together with the Department of Health last week.

Artificial limbs and support equipment will be made at the unit, something that’s expected to slash waiting times for amputees in the province.

Based at a newly renovated facility at the hospital, it includes laboratories, teaching facilities and offices, and is the first of its kind in the province and a second for the country.

The unit aims to increase the number of registered medical orthotists and prosthetists in the country, currently 420 in total. It was established at a cost of R35 million.

Medical orthotics and prosthetics is the design and manufacturing of artificial limbs and surgical appliances such as splints, external braces and surgical shoes that support joints or body parts.

Dr Macala Moroka, who heads the department, said they work as a team in order to prepare a patient. “After a patient loses their limbs, they are looked after by their surgeons, occupational therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists,” he said.

• A four-year course in Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics will be offered by DUT’s Health Sciences Faculty, with bursaries being offered by the provincial Health Department. It will annually see 30 bursaries awarded.


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