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Artificial limbs give the differently abled a leg-up

A.V.Ragunathan

Imported sets have both utility and aesthetic values



Collector V.Amuthavalli giving away a modern artificial limb to a boy in Cuddalore on Monday.

CUDDALORE: The desire of S. Rathnesh of Neyveli, a differently-abled Class IV student, to walk normally like children of his age has been fulfilled with the acquisition of a new artificial limb.

Born with a defective left leg, he has been hoping to get a suitable prosthesis that would facilitate easy mobility without causing much strain.

It is a different story for R.Jayapriya of Kattumannarkoil, a Class X student, who lost her right leg in an accident. She too has been looking for a prosthesis that would enable her to move around comfortably with less effort.

The requirements of both the students have been adequately met by the imported prostheses that have both utility and aesthetic values. The artificial limb or prosthesis, imported from the United Kingdom, has a special socket made of polypropylene, a lightweight material that can withstand constant wear and tear and cushion the friction effectively.

Each artificial limb costs about Rs.32,500 and is being given away free by the State government through the Differently-abled Persons' Welfare Department. Collector A.Amuthavalli handed over the artificial limbs to the students here on Monday. She took keen interest on how the prosthesis fitted and the comfort level of the beneficiaries.

Ortho-technician R.Balasundaram of the Welfare Department told this correspondent that the artificial limb was made of pylon, an extremely light but sturdy material, to ensure utmost comfort to the wearer.

This special artificial limb dispenses with the usual belts, meant for firmly securing the prosthesis to the body.

Another salient aspect about this imported limb was that it was fitted with a mechanism that would make the foot flexible from the ankle.

In regular artificial limbs, the entire portion would remain static and stubborn, and therefore, while walking a visible drag in the gait could be seen. Therefore, while climbing stairs or negotiating undulating terrains or steep surfaces the wearer would face certain difficulty.

But in this innovative prosthesis, the ankle part, supported by inlaid springs, would move in response to the type of surface. This would provide a semblance of normal walking and comfortable feeling to the wearer.

Mr. Balasundaram further said that the prosthesis was custom-made to suit individual requirements and its fitting must be checked once in a year. District Welfare Officer for the Differently-abled Persons T.Srinivasan said that the imported device was exclusively meant for school and college students.

However, for want of awareness there was not much of demand.

The Department had already issued a total of 31,427 identity cards, of them 12,886, all above 10 years, had been registered with the welfare board.

There was no target fixed on the number of imported artificial limbs to be given and all the requests would be conceded. It would take three months from the date of application to get ready the artificial limbs, Mr. Srinivasan added.

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