Posted on Thursday 14 January 2016
Helen Hayes MP, Julie Dinsdale and specialist physiotherapist Ed Morrison
Patients told local MP Helen Hayes how they have been helped to live independently and achieve their goals thanks to staff at the Bowley Close Rehabilitation Centre in Crystal Palace.
The MP for Dulwich and West Norwood, visited the centre on Monday 11 January to find out about the support which its staff provide to 45,000 physically disabled children and adults living in south east London and beyond.
The centre, run by Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, provides a range of services for people with physical disabilities who need rehabilitation, including prosthetic limbs for people who have had amputations or who were born without limbs.
Staff supply wheelchairs to 12,000 Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham residents, as well as assisted communication aids for people with conditions like motor neurone disease (MND), the disease that affects astronomer Stephen Hawking.
Julie Dinsdale, 53, a community midwife from Brixton who lost a leg in a road traffic accident in October 2015 says: "I was cycling when a lorry hit me as it turned left and my leg was amputated there by the roadside.
"I was taken to the Royal London Hospital and then spent five weeks in Guy's and St Thomas' Amputee Rehabilitation Unit in Kennington. Now the team at Bowley Close are giving me ongoing physiotherapy. My partner has been given counselling as he was present at the accident, so he is supported too.
"I was lucky as I was fit before the accident so I've been able to recover quickly. I ran the San Francisco marathon at 50 and, with the support of the team at Bowley Close, I plan to run another marathon at 55. It's phenomenal how the NHS has got me up and walking again after just a few months."
The Bowley Close team includes therapists, rehabilitation engineers and technicians. They provide a complete wheelchair service including customised seating and bespoke wheelchairs. They carry out assessments that enable patients to use powered wheelchairs that can be driven in alternative ways, such as using the chin to manage controls.
A team of 12 technicians also creates bespoke prostheses (lifelike replacement limbs) that are tailored to the individual needs of patients. About 1,300 of the centre’s patients are children, who are supplied with specially designed limbs and devices that allow them to perform everyday tasks like riding a bike.
Angie McCrae, Head of Regional Specialist Rehabilitation Services at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “Physically disabled people have to overcome numerous challenges every single day. By providing specially adapted wheelchairs, prostheses and other devices, as well as rehabilitation support such as therapy, we aim to improve mobility so that our patients and their loved ones can enjoy a better quality of life independently."
Helen Hayes MP said after her visit: “It was a real pleasure to meet patients and staff at Bowley Close. This specialist facility makes a huge difference to the quality of life of so many people who have life-changing injuries or illnesses.
“It was inspiring to see the skill, care and commitment of staff and to hear first-hand from patients about the impact the centre has.”