Amputees in England living with above-knee limb loss are awaiting the imminent decision, from the NHS, for funding approval of a vital and necessary policy; Clinical Commissioning Policy: Microprocessor Controlled Prosthetic Knees. This policy would give above-knee amputees living in England access, via the NHS, to a life changing Microprocessor Controlled Prosthetic Knee (MPK).
If funding is approved it is hoped that by making MPKs more widely available on the NHS quality of limb loss rehabilitation will be improved at a national level. Hundreds of eligible above-knee amputees living in England would have access to one of the safest and most popular MPK on the market, Ottobock’s C-Leg.
The policy was submitted to NHS England back in 2013 to guarantee centralised funding for the treatment of above-knee limb loss. Since the submission, various organisations including the Clinical Reference Group on Disability Equipment – creators of the policy – have campaigned for the approval of the policy. Earlier this year it was announced that the policy had been categorised for funding.
MPKs are designed to help amputees walk with a much more stable and efficient gait whilst reducing the chance of stumbles and falls. For instance, Ottobock’s C-Leg 4 has a complex sensor system that captures data in real time and recognises which phase of walking the user is in. It adapts to the users natural gait pattern, even at various speeds, whether on level ground, going down stairs step-over-step or on slopes. The user will be able to navigate difficult surfaces such as forest floor, sand and gravel. It also has a stumble recovery function that makes it extremely reliable.
The associated benefits of an MPK would mean that amputees would have fewer trips to the NHS and the effects of wear and tear on the body would be minimised; all benefits which the NHS has recognised and therefore deemed the policy to be cost effective.
These mechatronic knees would allow those eligible to get on with everyday life without the fear of falls and stumbles and relieves them of having to concentrate on every step; providing them with the dignity and quality of life they deserve.
“Being able to stop and stand still without thinking, change your speed of walking, or take a step backwards should not be a luxury,” comments Kiera Roche, founder of LimbPower, “This would be a huge win for those living with above-knee limb loss. The application of this policy would be life changing for hundreds of people; I have met so many who have been trapped by the limited capabilities of their current prosthesis. Giving them the possibility to be able to go out without the fear of hurting themselves is priceless. This is why I have backed this policy from the start.”
Someone who knows the benefits of an MPK is Damian Harper. He spent years fighting for his C-Leg. He managed to get his through specialised funding, which is now no longer available. It improved his life dramatically, but after what he calls a degrading and damaging time he doesn’t want anyone else to have to go through such an ordeal.
Another who also knows the benefits is Gillian McBain. She was a competitive swimmer for the first 10 years after having her leg amputated. Back then she was only concerned about getting from her car to where she wanted to go and back again. Gillian explains, “As long as my prosthesis got me from the house to the car and the car to the pool or gym that was all I asked of it”. She was then offered the chance to wear a C-Leg. This was the start of her life returning to something along the lines of what she used to know and allowed her to do the things she loved doing before her amputation. To see how the C-Leg 4 has enriched Gillian McBain’s life watch this video where she tells her story: https://youtu.be/0BbMXq-JZJM .