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How Prosthetics are Changing the Lives of People with Disabilities

We chat with Prosthetist Monique Van den Boom about her passion for making life-changing prostheses.

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Advances in prosthetics are constantly evolving and over the past two decades, there have been many advances in Assistive Technology that have improved the function, design and appearance of prostheses.

To find out more about the amazing work being done in this space, we caught up with prosthetics superstar, Monique Van den Boom, Director and Senior Prosthetist from ProMotion Prosthetics. We wanted to find out more about her work, and what drives and inspires her to work in this highly technical but rewarding field.

Monique is passionate about achieving excellent clinical and functional outcomes for people living with upper and lower limb amputation and limb loss. She has worked in the prosthetics profession for almost 20 years, and her extensive work in Australia and overseas has exposed her to all aspects required to successfully treat clients who have acquired an upper or lower limb amputation or who were born without limbs.

In 2010, an earthquake in Haiti killed more than 200,000 people and left thousands more in need of prosthetics. Monique was one of the many skilled prosthetists who volunteered their time to provide much needed aid and support to injured Haitians.

Prosthetics article
Monique working in Haiti

Prosthetists like Monique, often work with people who are going through an extreme change or trauma in their lives. They play an important role in returning the individual to their previous (or in some cases, an improved) level of function.

“We work with each individual to assess their needs, determine the most appropriate device, then complete the fitting process which includes casting, moulding, fitting and aligning the device, while working with other allied health professionals to provide the therapy to help them achieve their goals.” Monique explains.

These goals may include being able to provide a device to help an individual to go to the beach with their kids or designing a prosthetic arm to help a child to ride their bike.

Did you know that the world’s earliest functional prosthetic body parts are thought to be two examples of artificial toes from Ancient Egypt? Early prostheses were mostly decorative, but these Egyptian toes are an early example of a true prosthetic device.

The recent advances in Assistive Technology have significantly raised the profile of prosthetics within the general public, as well as improve the level of acceptance and quality of life of prosthetic device users.

While this sounds complex – (and it most certainly is!),  there is a simplicity of living well and with dignity, that having a prosthesis can bring to its users and it’s up to all of us as a community to learn more about these positives.

“There have been trailblazers in the disability advocacy space that have helped raise issues people with disability face in the community,” says Monique.

“People on social media with prominent profiles act as examples of what can be achieved for new prosthetic users and people with disability are being cast in films, TV and advertising which helps to integrate all people within our society as a ’norm’; however, I believe that individuals still experience discrimination from society.”

Monique says an area with potential for improvement, is accessibility within the community.

“I think if every individual had to spend a day in their life in a wheelchair, things would be very different, and more inclusive and accessible for people with a physical disability”.

Well said Monique, we couldn’t agree more!


Main image credit: Emily Day