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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust - 70 years of the NHS


Home > News > £750,000 new look for Disablement Services Centre

£750,000 new look for Disablement Services Centre

Posted on Wednesday 19th August 2015
Jessica Rigg

The Disablement Services Centre at the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle is benefitting from a £750,000 investment to create a state-of-the-art specialist rehabilitation facility for amputees.

The centre was one of nine across England to be awarded a share of £6.75 million central government funding to ensure ex-servicemen and women have access to the best possible prosthetic and rehabilitation care. Civilian amputees and other DSC service users will also benefit from the improvements, including the latest technology which will be installed as part of the investment.

The existing centre is being extended to create more clinic space and a specialist gym. A new entrance is being built, with eight new dedicated disabled parking spaces and an ambulance bay, so patients will be able to access the centre directly, without having to go through other departments. Also outside is a new ramp and ‘test track’ where patients can try out new wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs in a safe environment.

Disablement Services Centre manager Sue Bannister explained: “We have four clinic rooms at the moment. This investment means we can create an extra two clinic rooms, plus a gym which will house specialist equipment, including an anti-gravity treadmill, which allows you to vary what percentage of the patient’s weight is taken to minimise stress on injuries.

“The expansion and renovation works will create a fantastic facility for armed forces veterans, but will also benefit the general NHS population. For example, the specialist treadmill can be used by stroke patients in their rehabilitation.”

Part of the money will be spent on new equipment to make and test prosthetic limbs including:

  • Scanner – at present, a new prosthesis is created by physically moulding the patient’s limb using plaster of Paris; the new scanner will capture the shape which needs to be fitted with much greater accuracy, without the discomfort and mess of plaster
  • Gait lab – this is a plate set into the floor which the patient walks over which, combined with footage from still and video cameras, records a detailed picture of how well a prosthetic leg or orthotic aid is working

New staff have been recruited as part of the expansion plans, including additional hours of specialist physiotherapy, a rehabilitation exercise practitioner, a third prosthetist, a fourth prosthetic technician, additional administration staff and clinical psychology support.

As an addition to the existing team of occupational therapists, which includes specialist wheelchair occupational therapists, the prosthetic team in the centre now also has its own full time occupational therapist for the first time, Jessica Rigg. She said: “The extra space will mean we can work much more effectively, seeing more patients, and also more complex patients.”

As well as the extension, the existing department will be completely refurbished, with walls and doors moved to make the whole centre much more accessible to all patients. A larger reception area and toilet are being installed, and children’s areas will be created in the waiting area and in one of the clinic rooms.

The work is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year, at which time the new-look centre will be rebranded as the Specialist Rehabilitation and Mobility Centre, to bring it in line with others across the country.