Pioneering South African Prosthetics: Jetting Off For The Procedure
Prosthetics professional and owner of Deist & Associates, Jaco Deist, and his partial-hand amputee patient, Bridgette Mokoena set off for Scotland on 12 November 2017. They were to meet with Touch Bionics to start testing Bridgette’s new bionic hand. What an exciting few days were had!
The itinerary for the trip revolved around meeting with Touch Bionics for daily training. In fact, as soon as they landed in Scotland they visited the Touch Bionics offices in order to arrange for the forthcoming proceedings that would occupy the next few days. And the days that followed involved multiple evaluations, intensive training and bionic hand development which occurred while the device was connected to Bridgette!
Once they were more settled, however, the evaluation and training processes could officially begin. Bridgette admits that this was the part of the trip she was most anxious about. She said this made her nervous because “it had the greatest possibility of affecting the duration and development process of the bionic hand.”
Nevertheless, there was no need for Bridgette to be apprehensive because throughout the whole process she was, as Jaco put it, an absolute superstar!
Fitting Bridgette’s New Prosthetic Device
Bridgette was present when they built her new hand and she observed the meticulous care that goes into manufacturing prostheses at Touch Bionics. Bridgette noted “the high levels of energy and effort it takes to build such a tool,” thus further increasing her appreciation for the work done by the people at Touch Bionics.
What impressed Bridgette the most was the degree of involvement she was allowed in the customization and development of the hand. From the colour and weight of the hand to the variation in the strength and type of grips that can be selected, which allow the hand to be fully adaptive to all real-life situations, Bridgette had a say.
When the prosthesis was attached to Bridgette’s residual limb she was completely overwhelmed. She couldn’t find the words to truly express her joy as everything they had worked towards had culminated in a simply euphoric moment. Considering how far she had come thanks to her hard work and that of the team, she was highly aware of the endless additional possibilities that Touch Bionics opened up for her.
The practicing that had to be done after the initial training and evaluation continued for two full days. To truly explore and optimise the dexterity enabled by Touch Bionics, Bridgette had to complete many tasks and tests. These included gripping exercises that emulated day-to-day activities such as chopping, packing, folding and hanging various items. She even prepared a delicious lunch for the team one afternoon!
Bridgette admits she was amazed by the ease with which she was able to adjust to the prosthesis and apply its abilities to everyday scenarios which they practiced in simulations.
Bridgette’s Journey with Jaco
Bridgette has taken on this life-changing journey where Jaco Deist has been at her side every step of the way. He has gone above and beyond to show that Deist & Associates is in the business of helping people. Bridgette says she was delighted by Jaco’s great company and the way he made sure she was always comfortable, fed and laughing. She merits him for helping to reduce any awkwardness or anxiety on her side. He has a warm and sincere bedside manner that will linger in her memory for years to come.
Jaco boasts about Bridgette’s perseverance and he elaborates that she was able to make incredible progress on the first day of training – progress that patients usually only achieve by the end of the second day! Jaco beams when he informs us that “Bridgette responded exceptionally well to all the tests and tasks,” which, he confirms, made everyone else’s job a lot easier too.
A World of Opportunities
They returned back home to South Africa safely and without any hiccups. Bridgette looks forward to using her prosthesis to aid her everyday life. She will now have the ability to complete her daily tasks which is something she has needed help with for the last seven years.
Bridgette is truly inspirational and sings praises about Jaco and her journey on the whole. The experience has opened her eyes to the benefits of technology and the information which can be made available to disabled persons. These elements have the potential to improve one’s quality of life immeasurably and this comes to fruition when people like Jaco take on the responsibility of ensuring that there are positive outcomes as a result of these elements’ interplay. Bridgette hopes that by sharing her journey with others she can inspire people in similar situations to seek help and persist until they reap the same rewards that she is enjoying.