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

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Home > News > North Cumbria patients are county's first to get pioneering prosthetics

North Cumbria patients are county's first to get pioneering prosthetics

Posted on Monday 10th July 2017
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North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust’s patients are the first in Cumbria to get new Microprocessor Controlled Knee (MPK) prosthetics on the NHS.

NHS England recently made the decision to approve the use of MPKs on the NHS for patients who meet set criteria and the Trust has been working hard to assess, select and facilitate the right patients to benefit from these life changing prostheses.

The MPKs have been available to country’s serving and ex-service men and women for several years now and offer huge improvements over traditional, mechanical prosthetics.

Unlike mechanical knees, MPKs use an internal computer and sensors to monitor each step of the wearer’s walking pattern (gait cycle) and use this information to make real-time adjustments to the knee. These adjustments typically involve changes to resistance and make walking at various speeds easier, allow wearers to manoeuvre ramps and challenging terrain as well as facilitate walking down stairs step-over-step.

John Miller is the first patient to complete the four week trial period and has had his new prosthesis for six weeks. John said: “It has made a huge difference to my life. Falls are the main problem with the mechanical leg, it can just give way beneath you and you’re flat on the floor, I’ve had some pretty nasty injuries from falls; breaks, sprains, and tears. They all take time to recover from, knock your confidence and require further hospital treatment. I used to fall about eight or nine times a month but I’ve not fallen once since I got the new knee.

“I like to keep fit and active to make sure my body is in good health and keep my weight in check, I walk 10 – 15 miles a day with my dog Ellie and the new knee means I’m on my crutches less and I don’t have a fear of falling. It’s also much more comfortable to use.”

“I’m really grateful to the team here and the support from the staff has been fantastic.”

Niki Tebbutt, clinical specialist physiotherapist in amputee rehabilitation for the Trust, said: “This is a huge benefit for our patients and I’m thrilled to be able to work with them and help them get the most from their new prosthetics.

“It’s a big commitment from everyone involved, the staff and the patients. The new prosthetics aren’t for everyone and require a lot of hard work and dedication. We have to carefully choose each patient as the criteria for selection is very strict, with four weeks of physiotherapy and prosthetists input needed to help patients learn how to adapt to the new knees and get the most from them. They are more expensive than the mechanical knee but offer a much improved quality of life and, as they prevent falls, offer a long term saving for the Trust.

“It has been a real team effort between the patients, physiotherapists and prosthetists to make sure these trials have been a success.

“It is incredibly rewarding to see a patient’s quality of life improve because of this technology. It is really about all the things many of us take for granted such as walking down stairs or just being able to get out of a car easily and safely.”

Liam Telfer trialled the four different kinds of MPKs on offer for the Trust and has helped the staff evaluate which kind of knee would suit differing patient needs. Liam said: “Being part of the trial has been hard work but also great, I’ve tried all four and have evaluated each one so others don’t have to go through the same process, it has been a big learning curve for everyone.

“They are much better than the mechanical ones, it’s almost hard to describe how much it changes your life, it’s the little things that make a big difference – being able to comfortably go down stairs, being much more stable, walking downhill and having that feeling of safety and security is invaluable.”