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3 December 2019
CHS Department Of Physiotherapy Trains Rehab Workers To Deal With Lower Limb Amputation Rehabilitation

There are currently no accurate statistics on the number of persons with lower limb amputations in the Western Cape or South Africa

(Published - 3 December 2019)

On Tuesday, 26 November 2019, the Department of Physiotherapy in partnership with Ossur South Africa hosted a course on lower limb amputation rehabilitation for rehabilitation community care workers. This course is a continuous professional development opportunity specifically aimed at rehabilitation care workers (RCWs) who have completed their 18 months of training, and are currently employed either by the Western Cape Provincial Department of Health or NPO's in the Western Cape.

“There are no accurate statistics on the number of persons with lower limb amputations in the Western Cape or South Africa, but amputation is the most common complication of diabetes mellitus. Currently, approximately 5.4 % of the South African population (3.5 million) are diagnosed with diabetes. Globally, every 30 seconds someone with diabetes suffers an amputation, so it is very common,” said Dr Ennion.

People with a lower limb amputation require extension rehabilitation in order to potentially prepare them for prosthetic fitting, and where there are not enough physiotherapists to provide this service, the help of rehabilitation community workers becomes valuable.

The purpose of this workshop was to train the rehabilitation care workers to be able to provide basic rehabilitation to patients in the community with lower limb amputation to enable them to potentially be fitted with a lower limb prosthesis. The workshop was facilitated by Dr Liezel Ennion, Senior Lecturer UWC’s Department of Physiotherapy.

The course was partially sponsored by the Western Cape Provincial Department of Health which employs many of the RCWs, and Össur South Africa (https://www.ossur.co.za/) which is a private prosthetic and orthotic solution company. Courses and workshops of this nature prove that the Faculty of Community and Health Sciences goes the extra mile to empower and skill the community and those professionals involved in the health and wellness sector. 

“I am currently a community rehab practitioner. Now I have a clear understanding of how the bandaging of the stump and health status and fitness level, muscle strength and age impact your chances of qualifying for prosthesis. So now I am equipped to help clients prepare to qualify,” said one of the delegates.

In 2020, the Department of Physiotherapy will host more workshops and training for Physiotherapists and mid-level care workers.