The Department of Health has announced that the 1.5m Government funding, which was announced earlier this year, for the
provision of children’s sports prostheses and research has been ringfenced and is now available for limb centres to access.
Parents in England can now take their children to NHS Limb Fitting Centres to be assessed for eligibility. The funding is open to children and young people under the age of 18. Currently £750,000 has been set aside for the sports limbs with a cap of £5,000 per limb. Limb centres across England can apply for funding up until March 2018 and there are currently no plans in place for future funding, however this is being investigated. It is therefore advisable that parents act fast before the money is gone.
The Department of Health will be working with the charity Limbpower who has been chosen to carry out an administrative role to support Limb Centres and families thoughout the application process.
Philip Yates, Managing Director at Ottobock said:
“This is great news and goes some way to ensure children with limb amputation or congenital limb deficiency can lead healthy and active lives. It will give children and young adults the opportunity to participate in sport with a blade like the ones from our sportsline. We believe it is important to encourage children to take part in sports and this funding will help make that possible. We want to see children lead full lives where they can play alongside their peers and we hope that this funding will be taken advantage of sooner rather than later.”
The NHS advises that in order for children to stay healthy or to improve health, young people need to do three types of physical activity each week: aerobic exercise and exercises to strengthen bones and muscles. Providing children with the opportunity to participate in sporting activities with their peers not only ensures they get the exercise they need for healthy development as they grow, but also helps to develop their social skills and builds their confidence.
The funding will ensure that hundreds of children have the chance to participate in sport. They will no longer need to sit out because their prosthesis isn’t suitable for sports like football, cycling or running. Ottobock hopes that the Government goes further and ensures that there is future funding so all children are offered the chance to be able to participate in sports with their peers.
Someone who knows what it’s like to be a child living with an amputation is Rio Woolf. Rio was born with a one-in-a-million bone deficiency in his lower right leg which meant his tibia, knee and ankle joint was missing. Rio’s parents, Juliette and Trevor, were told that he would need a through-knee amputation. Rio underwent the operation at 14 months and was fitted with his first prosthetic leg at 17 months.
Thanks to the encouragement of his parents and the inspiration of his Paralympic heroes he is now a happy and healthy 8 year old boy with ambitions of becoming a Paralympian. Rio was recently fitted with an Ottobock 1E93 Runner Junior blade and an Ottobock 3S80 sports knee. Not only did this allow him to keep up with his peers as it gave him a better running style but it will also improve his symmetry of movement and reduce stresses and strains on his body.
The Runner Junior is a carbon fibre running blade suitable for active children up to the age of approximately 13 years or to a maximum weight of 45kg. The blade is lightweight and robust providing a powerful drive and a stable turning point. It has been coupled with an all-terrain, anti-skid sole that allows for running on different terrains – from grass fields to tartan running tracks.
The robust 3S80 sports knee is designed to withstand the wear and tear of any workout level, no matter if you’re an athlete in
training or a weekend jogger.
Rio’s mother Juliette Woolf said:
“Rio’s new Ottobock blade has greatly improved his running technique in just a few test runs at Dorset Orthopaedic where he was fitted. It’s also reassuring for us, as parents, to know that the knee-jointed limb gives our son the best chance of keeping his hips healthy and strong for the future by reducing the impact on them.
“Having the running prosthesis has not just enabled Rio but has actually empowered him to live the most active life possible in pursuit of his Paralympic dreams!
“We have seen how being active has had a positive influence on Rio; with both his health and his happiness. This is why we welcome this funding so other children can benefit from these sport prostheses.”
Young adults who want to run or partake in sports will be able to choose from one of many running solutions from the Ottobock sportsline such as the one worn by Paralympians Andy Lewis and Julie Rogers. They both use the same type of knee as Rio but have paired theirs with the 1E90 Sprinter blade.
The 1E90 Sprinter has proven itself in international and Paralympic competition as the foot of choice for elite athletes. Its light weight sets it apart. The spring contour gives the 1E90 Sprinter high propulsion and low resistance, making it ideal for running sports.
Also available is the 1E91 Runner blade. The Runner 1E91 can be used for both jogging and experienced running. It perfectly serves the needs of amputees with athletic ambition – from beginner to high performance levels. The blade is easy to handle and is therefore ideally suited to less experienced runners.
Young adults will also have the chance to choose a fitness foot by the pioneering mobility solutions manufacturer, Ottobock with its newly launched 1E95 Challenger Foot. This is a multi-purpose prosthetic fitness foot and is a winning choice for a diverse range of activities from everyday walking to recreational sports. The Challenger is used with a sport shoe and comes with exchangeable heel wedges to fine tune the action to a large variety of sports, including team sports and other individual needs.
The remaining £750,000 will enable the National Institute for Health Research to set up a research operation with key experts
from the NHS, industry and clinicians.
The Government hopes that this initiative will inspire and enable children and young adults to become more active and some to become part of the next generation of Paralympians.