Several disabled people in Sri Lanka will derive the benefits from the skills of five healthcare professionals who have returned to the country after receiving training in the field of prosthetic and orthotic devices for the disabled. With their graduation from the program at the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics in Phnom Penh, funded by the US Agency for International Development, the five fill a void in the Sri Lankan medical field.
Despite the need for their services, there are very few qualified prosthetists and orthotists working in Sri Lanka, and training programs in the field do not exist here. Many disabled people will be able to live productive and happy lives through the expertise of these trained personnel. The five prosthetist-orthotists who completed the course are already at work at partner centers in Kandy, Tangalle and Galle.
They include H.R Prasanga, Chathuranga Munasinghe, Darshani Pragnarathna, Nadeera Samasekara and Hiranthi Nirosha De Silva. A key technology the graduates bring to Sri Lanka is the prescription and fabrication of lightweight polypropylene prosthetics, which are more comfortable and durable than the heavier aluminum variety commonly in use.
The new prostheses can also be fabricated with a bending joint, permitting unprecedented flexibility for above-the-knee amputees. Disability is a growing social and medical concern in Sri Lanka. The disabled population grew as a result of the ethnic conflict that has claimed thousands of lives since 1983.
Other concerns such as diabetes and road accidents now contribute to the acute need for health providers to prescribe mobility aides such as artificial limbs and braces. The absence of special care can lead to advanced stages of disability or can even become fatal. There is also the danger of severe emotional trauma to individuals without the appropriate products for their rehabilitation.