Home' Southern Health News : Southern Health News June 2013 Contents retraining of the pathways in the
brain," Sharyn said.
"Clients practice normal movement
patterns in a task focused, interactive
environment, while improving
strength at the same time."
Sharyn said more traditional therapy
for people with hand and arm
impairment involved repetitive,
exercises with a therapist.
"A major benefit of the Armeo
Spring is that its interactivity is much
more interesting and engaging for
clients than traditional therapy,
which means they are more
SOUTHERN HEALTH NEWS / JUNE 2013 / 9
Putting a spring into rehab
BY MONIQUE PASCHKE
New interactive rehabilitation
technology at Repatriation
General Hospital is improving
motivation among patients,
leading to better recovery
The Armeo Spring (pictured left),
located in the 4th Generation
Clinics gym area, provides
intensive therapy for individuals
who have suffered injuries or
neurological disorders resulting
in hand and arm impairment.
motivated to work on improving
Sharyn said patient and family
reaction to the cutting edge
technology had also been positive.
"It is something different and quite
often clients are keen to show their
families how the technology works.
"The fact that it is located in
a rehabilitation hub like 4th
Generation is another positive as it
means people become more aware
of these new technologies and the
innovative ways that rehabilitation is
now being delivered."
Designed to address the different
and changing patient and
therapeutic needs from immediate
post-injury to long-term recovery,
the robotic arm exoskeleton
combines ergonomic guidance
of the arm with interactive
therapy exercises in a virtual-
reality training environment.
RGH Director of Occupational
Therapy Sharyn Chaplin said the
Armeo Spring was used by patients
following stroke or those with
neurological conditions such as
"The Armeo Spring helps with the
Graham Harris having his gait
assessed by OPSA Manager Sally
Cavenett in the Repat's Gait Lab,
located in 4th Generation Clinics.
Overcoming the odds
BY MONIQUE PASCHKE
Lying face up, eyes squinting
from the sun, 21-year-old
Graham Harris knew
something had gone terribly
wrong. A glance to his side
confirmed it -- his boots
were blown o , his legs just
a tangle of splintered bone,
blood and tendon.
Graham, a national serviceman,
arrived in Vietnam in 1969. Just
six months later he stepped on a
landmine. Six men were injured,
two men died and Graham's life was
The now 64-year-old remembers
the moment the bomb went
off. He recalls no pain -- just the
image of his mate and fellow
soldier rushing to his side to
tie his boot laces around his
stumps, stopping the blood that
was pouring from his body.
In an instant the Morphett
Vale man became a double leg
amputee and so the long journey
of rehabilitation began.
Graham was eventually transported
back to Adelaide and became an
inpatient of Daw Park's Repatriation
General Hospital (RGH) -- his home
for 12 months and a place he has
continued to visit for rehabilitation.
Over the past 43 years he's had many
pairs of legs, from his 'backward skis'
to the state-of the-art C-Legs he now
Graham was the first amputee to
receive C-Legs under Department of
Veterans' Affairs funding. There are
less than 10 double amputees with
C-Legs in Australia.
"I've never let not having legs stop
me from doing anything," Graham
said. "I just get in and get it done.
"And with my new legs, life is 100
per cent better."
OPSA (Orthotics and Prosthetics South
Australia) Manager Sally Cavenett
said analysis in the RGH Gait Lab
-- a service now located within the
4th Generation Clinics HIVE (highly
immersive virtual environment) which
measures a person's gait or style of
walk with motion capture technology
-- played a major role in providing
the evidence needed for Graham to
receive the high-tech legs.
"Due to a very small number of
amputees presenting with double
above-knee amputations, there was
little evidence to compare Graham's
mobility and function with," she
explained. "As such recommendation
of new technology is not as easily
supported as it would be for
amputees with less limb loss and
"In order for this funding to proceed
a rigorous process was undertaken
through Graham's participation in
Repat's Prosthetic Evaluation Program
(PEP). Gait analysis through motion
capture with the RGH Gait Lab was
part of this assessment process as
well as other tests and exercises."
Sally said the computerised C-Legs
had many benefits for double
amputees like Graham.
"The legs can be programmed to
suit the individual walking styles
of clients, which significantly
reduces the risks of falling
and stumbling," she said.
"This is particularly important in
Graham's situation as he does not
have the advantage of one remaining
limb intact to help steady himself."
Sally said she was often amazed by
Graham's determination to live life to
"Graham has persevered through
many years of rehabilitation
to achieve a level of mobility
with his prosthetic limbs,
allowing him participation in
occupational and home activities,
and community interests.
"Bilateral (double) amputees of
his level expend greater than 200
per cent more energy for daily
activities, so it is admirable to
see that Graham has achieved
and fulfilled a wonderful life."
Graham has married, had children,
worked full-time, been a member of
the Coast Guard, and volunteered
with other organisations.
While losing his legs was an
"horrific" experience, Graham is
determined to keep overcoming any
challenges that lie ahead.
"If you have the right mindset there
is no such thing as 'can't'."
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