29th August 2012 – New member joins specialist hospital team
Airedale Hospital’s orthotic team has just expanded with a new recruit – Kim Mcarthur.
She has joined two other orthotists serving the local area – Mark Baldwin, lead orthotist and Paul Charlton senior orthotist – who are part of Airedale NHS Foundation Trust’s mobility services department. The orthotists are all employed by Peacocks Medical Group, based in Newcastle.
Orthotics is a speciality which looks at the designing and making devices to modify a patient’s neuromuscular and skeletal system. This could be to help a patient move better, help rehabilitation, restrict movement, correct the shape or function of the body or reduce pain.
Kim studied four years at Salford University for a degree in prosthetics and orthotics and was previously employed by John Florence, a specialist company in paediatric orthotics based in Sussex.
Born in Pontefract, Kim is looking forward to broadening her experience to helping adults.
Now Kim lives in Glusburn and said: “Initially I was going to be a physiotherapist but I changed direction after becoming fascinated when I saw some children being fitted with their splints during some work experience.
“Our role is to do a biomechanical assessment -and look at things like gait. Often we are trying to put people into a better alignment. Patients occasionally struggle to tolerate the orthotic solutions that we initially come up with, however they can usually be adjusted to suit the individual or alternative methods can be used.
“We can make a huge difference to someone’s quality of life. Many patients come to us in pain and can walk out of our clinic more mobile and in less pain.”
Around 80 percent of hospitals have a contract with an external provider and Peacocks has just had their contract with Airedale renewed for another five years. The team’s administrative support is based in Harvey House and the clinic room is above the main entrance to the hospital.
Orthotic referrals come from a range of people including consultants and GPs and are now being opened up to other healthcare professionals such as podiatrists, occupational therapists and physiotherapists. Patients already registered with the service can self refer if they have a problem.
The team assess patients to find the most appropriate solution from a range of devices relating to all parts of the body from head to toe. These could be protective helmets, wrist braces, abdominal belts, collars, knee braces, insoles, special footwear or calipers. Some devices are straight off the shelf, others are adapted or bespoke for the individual by highly skilled technicians within Peacock’s factory.
Their patients include people who have had strokes, or with rheumatoid arthritis or diabetes – which is the biggest cause of amputation in the country. They can be very poorly with fragile limbs, cerebral palsy, broken spines or necks, movement disorders or have had surgery.
The orthotic team visits Airedale wards and run satellite clinics at Castleberg Hospital in Settle, Skipton Hospital, Canalside Health Centre in Bingley, Coronation Hospital in Ilkley and two local special schools. Other satellite clinics may be opened in the future.