IAIN Beggs can go for walks as much, maybe more, than before his amputation.
His goal is to get back into sport, any sport really, and he is working closely with rehabilitation specialists to find the right sport he can pursue.
Mr Beggs had elective surgery in late June after struggling with ongoing foot pain and surgeries stemming from a work-place accident 20 years ago. His decision followed extensive counselling, peer support and expert advice at Ballarat Health Services’ Queen Elizabeth Centre.
“I made the decision for a better quality of life,” Mr Beggs said. “I was facing more surgeries, more time off work and more ongoing pain...I’m adjusting quite good so far.”
Ballarat Amputee Group wants to make clear living a full life is not cut short with an amputation. The group’s call comes during Amputee Awareness Week, an initiative of Limbs for Life, a peer support and social awareness organisation in most Australian states.
BAG has been about more than 50 years, mostly as a support group for amputees in the wider Ballarat region. The group originally catered to war veterans but membership has changed with society’s evolving health and safety issues.
Older BAG members tended to be the direct result of road trauma but as seat belt safety and safer cars emerged, there has been increasing prevalence of diabetes-related amputations.
BAG president John McGregor’s experience was rarer, a bone tumour in his knee in youth caused him to face an amputation aged 17. He remembers every one else being fitted for prosthesis at the time as really old.
Mr McGregor said prothetics technology had evolved and improved so much from wooden limbs to plastics, silicone to computer-aided models, catering to so many purposes and needs.
A big part of Ballarat prosthetist Karina McAuley’s job is to adapt to new challenges her amputees serve up in meeting their own goals from driving, returning to the milking shed or water-proofing for fly fishing.
“Every stump is different and every person has different goals for things they want to achieve,” Ms McAuley said. “Limbs always change over a life-time, so people are always coming in for adjustments. We see them before their amputation, working through their rehab and follow up once they are home...we become good friends.”
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