British charity Blesma, who support limbless veterans, recently visited Bristol Centre for Enablement to find out how Opcare and NHS clinicians continue to provide care once amputees have left the military.
Originally providing prosthetic services to the civilian population, the Bristol service moved into a state-of-the-art building as it became one of nine Murrison Centres in 2014. This makes Bristol a specialist centre which continues the high quality of care amputees receive from the Armed Forces once they have left the military – all whilst serving 500,000 civilians across four counties!
Helen Harvey, NHS Clinical Manager Prosthetics and Orthotics, told Blesma: “Whilst we provide an excellent service for all our patients, we really enjoy working with veterans. We recognise the sacrifices that Armed Forces personnel have made on our behalf, and we are determined to do our best to provide a service that meets their needs.”
A multidisciplinary prosthetics team of 29 staff care for around 80 ex-Forces personnel, using a range of old and new techniques to manufacture limbs onsite. With veterans often receiving advanced prosthetics before leaving the military, the Bristol centre has had to adapt their skills to provide a wider range of limb types. However, this has also provided vital clinical and patient experience which benefits the rest of the amputee population – ex-Forces amputees have been using microprocessor knees for a number of years, creating an evidence base which led to MPK funding from the NHS.
Blesma also spoke to Opcare Prosthetist Hannah Pentin about the wide range of attachments and devices available to help amputees continue living functional, active lives.
“You name it, we’ll have something for it. We can either order something in or make it ourselves,” explained Hannah. “There are so many that you can just clip onto a rotary write; a hammer, pliers, a fishing rod, a kayak paddle… I love the fact that we can improve people’s capabilities and, because of that, enhance their lives.”
Thank you to Blesma for showcasing the Bristol centre, and well done to the Opcare and NHS team for all your great work! You can read the full feature in the spring edition of Blesma Magazine.