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Changing the lives of people with an amputation

Dr Juleen Lim, Prosthetist Nick Chiswell, Carlyle La’Brooy and Physiotherapist Kim Urmston.

Dr Juleen Lim and Physiotherapist Kim Urmston are part of the multi-disciplinary team at Peninsula Health helping people with an amputation achieve their goals and function with a prosthetic limb.

“We see clients at various stages in their rehabilitation journey – some have had an amputation recently and others may have had an amputation 30 or 40 years ago,” explains Kim.

“Having a prosthetic leg you have to regularly come in for maintenance and repairs and there are often issues to deal with so we have a lifelong relationship with our clients,” adds Juleen.

Majority of the amputee clients that come to the Peninsula Health Prosthetic Clinic have a prosthetic leg, although they do see a few people with prosthetic arms.

Juleen and Kim both agree that working with people to help them be able to use a prosthetic leg, and walk again, is extremely rewarding.

“Some people have the outlook that my life is over once I’ve lost the limb, then equally you have some people who have the attitude that it’s just a prosthetic leg – just strap it on and away I’ll go,” explains Kim.

“There’s a lot of work involved in being able to use a leg but we see some really amazing outcomes with patients who put in the effort and hard work and become quite mobile – sometimes more mobile than they were before if they’d been living with an ulcer or an injury for a long time.”

Carlyle La’Brooy had his leg amputated from his knee down in 2005 and has had great success using a prosthetic leg.

“I got my prosthetic and ever since I have been travelling to various parts of the world,” explains Carlyle, who regularly drives himself down from Koo Wee Rup to attend the clinic.

“I have led trips to Israel four times since having my prosthetic leg and I am about to go for a fifth time in April next year.”

October 4-11 is National Amputee Awareness Week. There are 28 amputations performed every day in Australia due to diabetes, cancer, vascular disease infection and congenital differences.

“Ninety per cent of the people we see have had an amputation due to diabetes and peripheral vascular disease,” says Juleen.

“We see people as young as in their twenties, right through to people in their nineties. Age has nothing to do with how well someone can use the prosthesis; it all comes down to their outlook. We’ve had 90-year-old clients do really well and get their mobility back.”

The multi-disciplinary team is also made up of a nurse and a prosthetist, who all work together to help amputees on the Mornington Peninsula to successfully manage having a prosthetic leg and get back to doing the things they did prior to the amputation.

National Amputee Awareness Week

  1. Approximately 10,000 Australians lose a limb each year
  2. 60% of all amputations occur in people over 60 years of age
  3. 50% of all amputations occur in people with type 2 diabetes