Treating and educating patients usually evolves into treating and educating the whole family. And we have seen (especially this year) that if a patient has the support of their family, they rehabilitate so much better.

But as surely as a coin has two sides the family dynamics has on the one side the patient and on the other side the rest of the family. Because we are the Prosthetist, we always try to get a feel for the other parties involved but the patient is always our first priority and in a way (sometimes unconsciously) we always assist the patient to fight their battles. So often I have witnessed a family member getting frustrated with the amputee. Sometimes with good reason, but on the other hand it is not really possible to put themselves 100% in the patient’s shoes or prosthesis for that matter.

So to facilitate this understanding we have manufactured “Slim Jan.”

It’s a device that you can strap onto a normal person. You then mount prosthetic components for example a knee and a foot onto the device to give the family member a better picture of what the amputee experiences. To avoid injury this is done between parallel bars because the person is going to fall, so at least they have something to hold onto. The moment that the relative bears weight on the device you can see in their eyes that the light has just switched on. Putting all your weight and faith onto a loose hinge that you have no feeling, control or sensory perception of is very hard.

“Almost like standing on a bar of soap in a wet shower” was one husband’s comment.

This light hearted exercise is usually very funny and amusing to the patient because as reality hits home they know that the other party will instantly have a little more compassion and respect for what they have to deal with. What is truly amazing is how the entire dynamics of a relationship takes on a new mindset and all within a few seconds!

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