TUT unveils world class orthotics and prosthetics laboratories. The Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) unveiled what could be considered the most advanced medical orthotics and prosthetics laboratories on the African continent. The upgrades and refurbishment amounted to over R21 million, enabling TUT to deliver world-class graduates and addressing the shortage of skilled professionals.

The renovations included equipping the new laboratories with the most modern equipment and upgrading the clinical laboratories, machine and moulding rooms, student workstations and diagnostic facilities.

“The new machines are height-adjustable to accommodate the needs of different students? In fact, all the equipment and installations are geared for health and safety with chemical fume extraction, vacuum dust filtration and extraction,” says Prof Pieter Marais, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science. The modernisation of the laboratories places TUT at the forefront in Africa, in terms of training and research capabilities, while it also allows the University to deliver students trained on the most modern equipment in the world.

The new computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) system (RODIN 4D CAD CAM) is a first for training students in South Africa and is also the most advanced CAD/CAM system in medical orthotics and prosthetics worldwide. This system makes it possible to carve interactive orthotics and prosthetics training modules and is a first in clinical measurement and evaluation in this course. The RODIN system will enable staff and students to increase the number of patients measured and assessed, thereby increasing their clinical ability.

The new centre also opens up more opportunities with surrounding hospitals and rural clinics and increases the number of patients exposed to students in clinical training. In the spirit of giving back to the surrounding community, the students and staff are involved in pro bono work, where they engage with real-life patients in orthopaedic rehabilitation. According to the programme founder, Professor Juan Pieterse, the Medical Orthotics and Prosthetics division at TUT has made a massive contribution to people with disabilities in South Africa. The programme in medical orthotics and prosthetics was established in 1984 and steadily grew into a full academic programme represented and regulated by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA).

Unified sports day in Diepsloot On 22 June, Shumbashaba and Special Olympics SA hosted a Unified Sports Day in Diepsloot, Northern Johannesburg. The event created an opportunity for more than one hundred athletes, particularly those from Diepsloot, to access and participate in a number of sports. Sporting facilities and programs for people with disabilities are virtually non-existent in the area.

A programme including horse riding, volleyball and bocce (a Special Olympics entry level sport) soccer and mad for an exciting event. Pictured here is the bocce team from Bona Lesedi in Diepsloot who finished in third place. From left to right: Lucky Molokomme; Mesuli Mafola; Busisiwe Mkenku; Aaron Ngwenya; Tinyiko Nkuna and Thabang Motaung.

The next sports day, the Summer games, will take place on the 30 November and everyone is invited.

Call for nominations Every year, Valhalla Arts calls on the public to nominate women with disabilities who have excelled in various fields for the TRIBUTES Excellence Awards. TRIBUTES 2013 will be hosted from the 29- - 31 of August in KwaZulu-Natal.

Celebrating the past and looking towards the future The Western Cape Cerebral Palsy Association (WCCPA) recently hosted its annual conference at the Upper Eastside Hotel in Woodstock, Cape Town. This event coincided with the National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy’s (NAPCP) diamond celebration and was themed ‘Cerebral Palsy in 2013 - 60 years on & the way ahead.

“The management of Cerebral Palsy is always evolving as our medical knowledge increases and more insight is obtained,” said Fieke Van Bever Donker, Chairperson of the WCCPA. “ We always have to be up to date with our knowledge and implementation, and this conference enables this.” The National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy Management Committee opened the Conference with a meeting of school principles and representatives.

The Filia School brass band added to the festivity with their lively tunes. The association’s proud history was tracked back to 1952 when three concerned parents started the organisation under Emil Riece. Riece acted as the Chairman for 23 years and grew this much-needed association. A presentation from Emil’s wife sent a message of congratulations to the organisation.

Shirley Elvey, who has served the association as a social worker for thirty years, gave an outline of how far the organisation has come since its inception. Other presentation highlights included Dr Kirsty Donald, a developmental Pediatrician at the Red Cross Hospital. She stated that that life expectancy is improving for people who are most severely affected by cerebral palsy.

Dr Chetty discussed neurological stimulation and oral biology. Botox counteract the effects of drooling, was discussed by Prof Chris Joseph. He concluded his talk by stating that Botox assisted in the general improvement in appearance, behaviour and confidence in people with cerebral palsy.

Dr Faith Bischof gave an interesting presentation on Stem Cell Therapy and concluded by stating that families should continue with conventional therapies such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy whilst keeping up-to-date with research advancements, by searching for clinical trials. The conference ended on a high note with a celebratory dinner and dance. It was also announced that the 2014 conference would take place in Durban.

Project changes lives of the disabled in Mpumalanga

The Mpumalanga Department of Public Works, Roads and Transport, which co-ordinates the Expanding Public Works Program (EPWP) in the province, remains optimistic about the continuous increase in the number of job opportunities created under the program.

The EPWP is part of a government intervention meant to bolster job opportunities in the country. It has brought a new lease on life for people living with disabilities at Thulamahashe in the Bushbuckridge Municipality.

A project for the disabled called South African Active Disabled People Association (SAADPA) has created a total of 506 job opportunities for the disabled in Mpumalanga.

The SAADPA, under the leadership of John Nxumalo, is one of the best projects under the EPWP and has proven that people living with a disability can contribute positively towards the economy of the country. He explained that people with disabilities are often neglected and even abused by some of their family members; hence he established the project in a bid to address the plight of the disabled in his community. Nxumalo is the founder of the project, he became disabled after a car accident.

The SAADPA runs various projects such as beadwork, pottery, sewing, weaving, carpentry and farming. It exports some of its products to various markets in the United States.

“I am very optimistic that SAADPA will grow and become independent and thus create more jobs for people in our village, Thulamahashe” said Nxumelo.

Nora Gumede is one of the employees and she does sewing work for the association. She said that the incentive grant that SAADPA receives monthly from EPWP has brought hope into her life, as nobody wanted to employ her due to her disabilities. “We are getting a monthly allowance from EPWP which has changed my life completely. I can now buy food and clothes for my kids and my siblings” she explained.

Go BIG this Casual Day This year Casual Day takes place on September 6, and stickers can be purchased for R10 at all Edcon stores, which include the following brands: Edgars, Edgars ACTIVE, Red Square, Boardmans, CNA, Jet, JetMart and LEGIT.

The funds are distributed to the following six national beneficiaries:

The National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in SA (NCPPDSA); Epilepsy SA; SA National Council for the Blind; SA Federation for Mental Health; the Deaf Federation of SA (Deafsa); and Disabled People South Africa (DPSA).

Casual Day has raised over R170 million for disability organisations since its inception 18 years ago. Edcon has committed to a three-year contract as the principal sponsor, with the aim of raising R6 million in sticker donations at all Edcon stores and, in addition to contribute R11 million towards the project over the period.

So, on the 6th of September join in the fun and go BIG to support this worthy cause.