Due to the insufficient prosthetic services and resources in Botswana, the University of Botswana in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania have embarked on an exercise to provide and rapidly fit a total of 15 Batswana living in Maun with above-knee and below-knee prostheses.
The three-day long symposium began on Wednesday and patients from Tshidilong Stimulation Centre and Motor Vehicle Accident Fund were invited for fittings while others came to witness. The symposium was held under the theme ‘Expanding Botswan’s Rehabilitation Paradigm.
The devices were a charitable donation from Professor Timothy Dillingham who is also a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation specialist at UPenn through his company, IFIT Prosthetics based in Wisconsin, USA.
Speaking during the symposium, a University of Botswana Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences (Faculty of Medicine) Dr. Maikutlo Kebaetse revealed that there are only 10 prosthetic technicians in Botswana which he said is a very low number over a large population. Owing to this he indicated that there is a very long waiting list of prosthetic patients with limb loss who need prosthetics.
Kebaetse stated that he and Professor Dillingham were initially research partners, but later collaborated to design a fully adjustable prosthesis to enhance the lives of persons with limb loss. He added that the devices cost them around P700 000 and they have already made fittings in Gaborone, Ramotswa, Mahalapye and Maun.
For his part Professor Timothy Dillingham noted the benefits of the new and improved devices are that they are adjustable and enable patients to manage most adjustable and limb accommodations by themselves. These ones he stressed are new and improved model as compared to the ones that were donated in 2021 which beneficiaries were complaining about citing discomfort and them being big and unattractive in sizes.
Professor Dillingham added that with proper care the devices also last longer for up to 4years or more. “It is advisable for patients to fit within a short period of time after the surgical wounds heal to decrease the likelihood that impairments could be triggered,” he advised the beneficiaries.
Meanwhile the Tshidilong prosthetics Technicians Isiah Moyo appreciated that the new device is time efficient, economic, adaptive, and easy to align and repair. Therefore he said patients will therefore not have to worry much and the waiting list will also reduce. According to him, after fitting 8 patients in 2018, most of them would complain of the heavy prosthetic fitting.