Empowering Africa’s child amputees

1 June 2018 – Three local organisations, active in the realm of prosthetic technology and sport rehabilitation, joined forces this week to host a pilot training program at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital in Ga-Rankuwa. The event, hosted from May 28th to June 1st, is geared to help SADC countries increase their level of support to children living with lower limb amputations.

Ottobock South Africa, Icexpress Progressive Prosthetics and Jumping Kids; a non-profit organisation that provides access to prosthetic equipment to child amputees locally; invited prosthetic technicians from three SADC countries (Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique) to join local technicians in a weeklong workshop aimed at ‘up skilling’ participants in the latest prosthetic products, methods and rehabilitation techniques.

In addition, each invitee was asked to nominate a child living with a lower limb amputation to accompany them. As part of the training, each child underwent an assessment, followed by the manufacture and fitment of carbon fibre sport solutions also known as running blades.

To test the equipment, athletics as a tool for rehabilitation and social integration was the focus of discussion.

“We promote what is called the three pillars of Jumping Kids; access to Mobility, Education and Sport.  We believe that access to prosthetic equipment should translate into access to mainstream education and that sport plays an important role in the integration process,” says Jumping Kids Director, Michael Stevens.

The collaboration is three-fold.

Ottobock, a leading supplier of Prosthetic and Orthotic products, provided technical product training and the components required to fit the kids. Icexpress Progressive Prosthetics, an accredited practice based at The Innovation Hub in Pretoria, lead the training with a special focus on sport prostheses, socket manufacture, and component assembly.

Jumping Kids facilitated the event.

The charity was instrumental in the rise of Rio 2016 Paralympic silver medallist, Ntando Mahlangu  (16) who attended the sport rehabilitation segment on Wednesday (30 May 2018) to inspire the kids and demonstrate physical therapy techniques at University of Pretoria’s Tuks Athletics Track.

Mahlangu had his Paralympic silver medal on hand to show to the young amputees and also handed over a ‘Team South Africa Rio 2016’ inspired shirt to Tebogo Mofokeng (18) from Winterveldt who is a bilateral below knee amputee and soccer coach.

“We have seen first-hand how exposure to sport, especially athletics, can be effectively incorporated to help children with amputations develop in an inclusive educational environment. When the kids are provided with the right equipment, expertise and motivation, they are able to develop at the rate of their peers.

The idea with this project is to show what is possible. With sufficient governmental support we could, each year, fit more kids and do maintenance on the kids already fitted. We could build an African squad over 3-5 years that could go to the Paralympics. That’s the bigger dream,” concludes Stevens.