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26/06/13 13:06

State-of-the-art prosthetics for veterans

A better deal for Scotland’s military amputees.

A new national prosthetics service has been launched to meet the needs of Scotland’s military amputees.

The new service will provide veterans from the armed forces advanced prosthetics that can anticipate movements and adapt instantly in order to function as close to a natural limb as possible.

It will offer veterans improved support and a dedicated point of access to healthcare services through the limb fitting and rehabilitation centres in Edinburgh and Glasgow, with telehealth links to Aberdeen, Inverness and Dundee centres.

The service was launched as the Scottish Government promised to offer a better deal for military amputees by accepting all of the recommendations from Dr Andrew Murrison’s report on NHS Prosthetics Services for veterans, particularly those from recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking at a visit to the Edinburgh centre, Health Secretary Alex Neil said:

“It is only right that our veterans, who have risked their lives for this country, receive world-class services through our NHS. Scotland is already leading the way in prosthetic care and this new specialist service is a fantastic example of the NHS using innovative technologies to deliver twenty-first century healthcare.

“Veteran amputees often have complex health needs so it is vital that they have continued access to the modern technology now available to enable them to have a lifestyle that suits them.

“This new service is one of a range of actions we are taking to deliver a better deal for our military amputees.”

Veterans Minister Keith Brown said:

“In Scotland we seek to ensure that Armed Forces personnel and veterans who unfortunately lose a limb whilst on active Service receive state-of-the-art prosthetics from NHSScotland that match the standard of prosthetic limbs given by the Defence Medical Services.

“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to ensuring the needs and aspirations of Scotland’s veterans’ community is at the centre of our policy development and delivery in Scotland. That is why in September last year we launched Our Commitments - a paper which sets out what the Scottish Government is doing to address the health, housing, education and justice needs of current and former service men and women.”

Ian Waller, Director of Support and Communications, British Limbless Ex Service Men's Association (BLESMA) said:

“BLESMA is pleased to have brought our extensive knowledge and involvement in the Murrison Report to the work which has led to this announcement.

“We are encouraged by the clear message this sends to our members in Scotland; that their needs have been recognised, considered and are being addressed.

“We recognised the valuable work between the Defence Medical Services and the NHS to deliver continued care for our members once they are discharged from service.

“We will continue to support our members in Scotland, working alongside all parties involved in their care with a view to ensuring that they are able to live independent and fulfilling lives.”

Chris Moon , 50, from Strathaven, East Kilbride, is a former military officer who worked as a team leader for the Halo Trust clearing land mines. In 1995 working in Mozambique he lost his right leg and his right arm when a landmine exploded.

Steven Richardson, 24, from Tranent, East Lothian, joined the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Royal Scots Borderers in August 2006. He did two operational tours in Iraq in 2007-08 and Afghanistan in 2010.

On 27 June 2010, two weeks short of his 22nd birthday, he came under heavy enemy fight during a foot patrol in the Nad-E-Ali district of Afghanistan. While moving position in order to return fire Steven stood on a low metal content explosive device.

He was the only one injured in the blast, losing his legs and fingers on both hands. His comrades were with him in a matter of second to administer life-saving first aid. He remained conscious until he was put to sleep in the helicopter. He woke up four days later in Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham.

After four weeks in hospital he was sent home for two weeks leave before going to Headley Court for the first of many rehabilitation admissions. For almost two years he was at Headley Court on a month on, month off basis. Within four weeks he was able to walk on stubby prostheses, short leg prostheses with no joints, and by the end of 2010 he was walking on c-legs, microprocessor controlled state-of-the-art prostheses.

He is now able to run, use a hand bike, do indoor rock climbing and kayaking. In 2012 he took part in the Race Across America for Help for Heroes. The eight wounded servicemen cycled 3051 miles from Oceanside CA to Annapolis MD in seven days, seven hours, 59 minutes. He is still serving in the army and won't be discharged until October.

Notes to editors

For further information and photographs of the case studies please contact the press office.

It is estimated that there are 66 military amputees in Scotland.

The SMART Centre in Edinburgh provides a wide range of rehabilitation technology services for the South East of Scotland, covering Lothian, Fife and the Borders. These include mobility and postural services (wheelchairs and special seating), prosthetics, orthotics and bioengineering services (artificial limbs and special equipment), a disabled living centre, gait analysis and a national driving assessment service.

The WESTMARC centre in Glasgow offers similar services. The services in Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen also offer services and work with the SMART and WESTMARC centres to ensure the most appropriate service possible as close to home as possible.

The Murrison recommendations include:

  • a national specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation services for amputee veterans.
  • equivalent and complementary provision agreed with the devolved administrations.
  • access to mainstream NHS provision through a Disability Service Centre of choice.
  • each specialist centre should have provision for a British Limbless Ex Service Men's Association support officer.
  • improved transition between Headley Court and NHS services.
  • national guidelines for prosthetic prescription and rehabilitation.
  • a study of amputee veteran’s long-term outcomes.
  • relocation of the defence medical rehabilitation centre to form part of a Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre.
  • build the specialist prosthetic and rehabilitation network.
  • extend travel costs scheme for attending disability service centres and associated healthcare.
  • ensure amputee veterans abroad have access an equivalence standard of prosthetics.
  • audit of new funding arrangements.