Through the challenges together

The year 2020 was a game-changer.

In a world that is still adapting to ‘new normal’ conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to move fast to find new ways to continue to safely deliver essential services to our clients during lockdown.

From traveling across provinces for home-visits with elderly clients who are particularly vulnerable at this time, to receiving clients in the safety of The Innovation Hub precinct, with all necessary protocols in place, we could continue to address the unique prosthetic and rehabilitative needs of each individual.

“The lockdown experience heralds change. I think we will continue to see interesting new ways of doing things. For me, taking the service to the client during those early lockdown months certainly highlighted a few things to consider going forward,” says Johan Snyders, Chief Executive of IceXpress Progressive Prosthetics.

For prosthetic users, remaining physically fit is an important consideration. A healthy lifestyle helps amputees get the most out of their prosthetic equipment. The year 2020 was not the best year for that.

During lockdown, we had to find innovative ways to stay active – especially important to prosthetic users who need to use their equipment regularly, or run the risk of experiencing changes in the residual limb that may affect the prosthetic fit.

“We are grateful to our Para athletes for keeping us motivated during lockdown by sharing their ideas on how to stay active with fellow prosthetic users via social media and other channels. It is important to send a positive message in difficult times,” Snyders adds.

Towards the end of 2020, lockdown restrictions eased.

For the first time, since the start of the year, athletes aiming to qualify to represent South Africa at this year’s Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games, had the opportunity to return to their preparations under ‘new normal’ conditions.

Free State Sport Association for the Physically Disabled (FSSAPD) hosted a Para athletics event that saw many of track and field’s emerging talent in attendance.

The event also included two showcase races – 100 and 200 meter sprints for five young bilateral lower limb amputees who run in the same competitive class as their role-model, T61 Paralympic sprinter, Ntando Mahlangu.

“It is important to continue to grow the sport,” says Snyders. He further explains, “The showcase races are meant to give the new kids a fun taste of track and field athletics. It is an opportunity to test their equipment, and hey get to meet role-models with similar challenges that are good examples of what is possible through sport. It was a great way to celebrate an ease in the lockdown restrictions”.

Ending a challenging year with a new sense of what is possible; Ruan Kaps visited us before Christmas to be fitted with a bionic hand. The Pretoria-based teen spent his stay-at-home vacation honing new skills at his fingertips to get ready for the school-year ahead.

“Someone recently pointed out that people living with physical disability already had to learn to adapt and are, in a sense, better equipped to stay motivated in these challenging times. Ruan’s enthusiasm to explore the possibilities of his bionic technology is great inspiration for, what we hope will be, a better new year,” Snyders concludes.