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Latest News 1 November 2013

Blesma Support Officers Training

A recent prosthetics awareness-raising session for Blesma Support Officers (BSO) at the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre in Preston on 16 – 17 October was a runaway success.

It was suggested by the Trustees to bring our regional Support Officers up to a collective level of knowledge within prosthetics.

Over the course of the first afternoon, Blesma staff were briefed by clinicians and then given a demonstration of the different casting techniques used in socket manufacture by a qualified prosthetist at the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre in Preston.

It was a perfect opportunity for those who may have had reason to visit a prosthetist with a Blesma Member, to have their doubts/questions resolved in an informal setting.

The BSOs were also joined by Alison Treadgold - Head of Armed Forces Health for NHS England (right) on both days. Though she has substantial experience in this sector relating to policy, Alison saw this as an opportunity to learn and understand how exactly sockets and prosthetic limbs are created and manufactured.

Blesma Member and our BSO for the Midlands - Charley Streather was a real sport.  Thanks to him, the staff had an opportunity to try casting a stump for themselves. They were then shown the workshop where the sockets are made and the pros and cons of the different methods to make them. This again provided participants with an open environment where they could ask questions without disturbing the process itself.

A presentation followed by the Commanding Officer of 42 Brigade (Personnel Recovery Unit) where he highlighted the Army’s recovery capabilities and the work that they do with the limb centres.

Alison started off the second day with a presentation to the BSOs in Blesma’s Blackpool Home. She spoke in some detail about the current NHS England structure, prosthetic commissioning, the Veterans Prosthetics Panel (VPP) and the nine named prosthetics centres that will have key role in supporting service veterans, especially those recently discharged from Headley Court.

Alison said, “I was delighted to come and talk to the Blesma Support Officers about the work NHS England has been involved in to improve veterans prosthetic services. I am especially pleased at the success of the VPP with over 172 applications from 29 centres since April 2011, although I recognise that this is a small number of veterans who might benefit from the VPP. I urge all Members to make sure they are discussing their prosthetic needs with their prosthetist to ensure that they are getting the best technology to suit their needs.”

She was supported in this presentation by Mrs Sue Charlesworth, the Manager of the prosthetic centre in Preston and chair of the National Prosthetic Centres Managers Group.

Some of the attendees, including Alison, were given the opportunity to try on a specially designed prosthetic leg that can be worn by people who have not had an amputation, to allow them to get a feel for what it is like to look down and see a prosthetic limb where their real leg was. Although the concept is a basic one, actually trying the limb for yourself does have a profound impact on how you balance yourself and try to move around, making you release how difficult the process is for those who have to get used to life with a prosthetic limb.

The event was deemed a great success by all who attended, with everyone feeling they had gained valuable knowledge and experience which they will use in their day-to-day lives as they help out Blesma Members.

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