Today Kevin walked up the driveway, up the ramp, and into our clinic, wearing a broad smile that was mirrored by his parents. Two months ago his long-leg braces had been fabricated by our technician, Ivan, and his walker made by our machinist, Luis.
Now at age nine this young boy with spina bifida is finally able to walk. Kevin is a star student in math with a bright future.
Cristian Jesus, age 8, with cerebral palsy, also walked for the first time this week, surprising both himself and his mother.
Cristian walks with short-leg braces
Previous patients, Carlita and Alex, are now 3 and 4 respectively and are expert walkers; they have returned for their second prostheses. As you will see from the photos, we are lacking in children’s prosthetic parts and often must substitute adult components. As soon as one child received his new prosthesis , the foot from his old prosthesis is reused for the next child’s prosthesis. We are very much in need of all children’s components: feet, pylons, tube clamps, adapters, foot adapters, and pyramids. Oftentimes families in the US keep their children’s older prostheses as they grow, but if they would donate them, it would benefit another child.
A woman who traveled many hours from central Ecuador received a BK prosthesis after losing her foot due to walking on the side of it for many years, secondary to a congenital deformity. While she practiced walking with her new prosthesis, we made a brace for a young woman who walks on the side of her foot due to polio, and is now walking more upright and protecting her foot from further damage.
We continue to have trials with new components which have been developed for this part of the world. We are working with the Ital arm, the RE:Motion Designs knee, and the LIMBS knee.
These high quality and less expensive components have potential to bring prosthetics within the reach of more individuals. Durability and functionality are of course our highest priority. We also see benefits in terms of ease of fit, universality of fit, and potential for manufacture or assembly outside the US.
Nina Bondre, volunteer from Duke University, aligns a prosthesis
The clinic is operating 52 weeks a year and with donated and purchased materials, and is able to provide orthotics and prosthetics for about 100 Ecuadorans per year. We are very pleased with the improvement of follow-up care and with the patients’ desire to overcome barriers of finances and travel to return. Each adult patient is asked to determine if there is a donation they could make to the clinic, no matter how small. Many people are able to receive assistance from family members, church, community groups, or employers to make a donation. In this way, the efforts of patients help to continue the work of the clinic. In addition, the local branch of the Ecuadoran government supports the prosthetic and orthotic needs of all children and helps to defray costs of materials and salaries. We work toward the day when the clinic is self-sufficient within Ecuador but meanwhile continue to provide donated components and professional collaboration, generously supported by A Leg to Stand On Foundation in the United States.
–Kit Frank, OTR