Children with limb deficiency and their families will no longer be a forgotten age group of amputees with the national expansion of a unique program that alleviates the challenges associated with limb loss.
Ongoing funding from nib foundation will see the one-of-a kind Carers, Children and Youth program run by Limbs 4 Life, become available to all Australian children or young adults who undergo limb amputation or are born with limb difference, along with their families and carers.
Limbs 4 Life Executive Officer, Melissa Noonan said the age-specific, targeted program provides access to valuable support services and information to empower children and their families to deal with their limb difference.
“Each year approximately 100 Australian children are born with limb deficiency while a further 100 children face amputations due to cancer, infection and trauma-related causes,” Ms Noonan said.
“In addition, Australia has the second highest rate of diabetic amputations in the developed world making organisations like ourselves an important resource for amputees and their families to be able to access information and support,” Ms Noonan said.
Sydney teenager, Sarah Walsh, wishes that such a program was available for her when growing up. A symes amputee who had her foot amputated at just 18 months old, the 16 year-old Paralympic athlete hopeful said that peer support programs are an invaluable tool for young people living with limb loss.
“Sometimes we need help, not from the people closest to us but from those who have bravely taken on the challenge of living with a limb loss. When I was growing up it would have been amazing to be able to talk to someone who was growing up missing a leg,” Ms Walsh said.
“Peer support helps immensely, they might have worked out a way to deal with certain situations or know the way someone else is feeling. It’s a great way to share their understanding with other people who are going through the same thing they went through,” she added.
nib foundation Chairman, Keith Lynch, said the positive outcomes the program delivered over the first two years prompted the foundation to continue its support.
“Research conducted by Monash University has shown that this program is an effective model for promoting the health, wellbeing and social inclusion of children living with limb loss,” Mr Lynch said.
“Our ongoing funding support will now see the program extended across Australia. It will help prevent social isolation, build resilience and develop confidence in these young people and their families by connecting them with a supportive organisation and communities of people in similar situations,” he added.
The program will also be conducted online through the development of a dedicated website, online forum, webinars and podcasts to facilitate greater interaction between families.
“Feedback from our families has shown that there is a greater need for online delivery of the program to allow parents and carers to access information at a time that suits their needs and to allow them to connect with others in a private forum,” Ms Noonan said.
“The new online component of the program will allow us to do just that, as well as enabling us to distribute information and resources to a wider audience,” she added.
The new program will be available from May 2015.