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Improved quality of life

During the summer of 2019 I went to Masanga hospital in Sierra Leone. I was the second student to discover the beauty of the country and the region of Masanga for this project.

During my time in Masanga I did three things. Of course the local physiotherapist put a lot of effort in advertising the project and therewith finding new patients to be involved in the project. Halfway during my stay, so much effort was put in to advertising, that patients came walking to the hospital themselves and we no longer had to search for them. Secondly, we went back to the patients who were helped previously to follow them up. We checked how they were doing and if necessary repaired their prosthesis. During this follow-up, I found that many patients still wear their prosthesis and are still content with the extension. Thirdly, we did research into the quality of life of these patients.

During my time in Masanga we included five new patients in the project. Two of them were men missing their complete arms, one was an older lady who had been missing her hand for more than forty years already and two of them were ladies in their mid-forties. One of these ladies broke her arm during an accident and then lost her lower arm. The other lady showed up in the hospital with a large ulcer on her fingers after which they had to amputate al of the four fingers on one side.

When we were producing the prostheses for both of these women we did think we could improve their quality of life, however we never expected their gratitude to be as great as it was. One of the ladies told us she started dancing with her whole village when she came home wearing her prosthesis. The other lady told us that she found the courage to walk outside her house again and do her groceries. Talking to these people made me realize what we can contribute in their lives. Since even small things, such as getting groceries, can already provide a lot of independency for the patients.

Besides the prostheses, I also spent time working on a quality of life questionnaire. This questionnaire can be used to show the added value of the prostheses that we produce. By asking specific questions in five areas we will be able to quantify the quality of life of the patients. And, most importantly, we will be able to substantiate if the prostheses that we make not only make people happy, but really improve their quality of life. Using this method, I made a start in the scientific basis of the project.