SCOLIOSIS BRACING IN NIGERIA- Q&A SESSION WITH AN ORTHOTIST

Team BACS met up with the CEO of Greater Walks Orthopaedics for a Q&A session on scoliosis bracing in Nigeria. It was really insightful and it’s amazing to see how much bracing in Nigeria has evolved over the years. We hope you enjoy the interview; much more we hope you find answers to your questions on scoliosis bracing in Nigeria.

Q: Brief introduction [A little background: Name, Occupation, Hobbies, etc].
A: My name is Aguda Oluwabunmi Amos (Mr.), Prosthetist/Orthotist, Member of International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO), Member of Nigeria Association for Prosthetics and Orthotics (NAPO).

I am a certified Prosthetist/Orthotist, I started my prosthetics and Orthotics education at Federal College of Orthopaedic Technology (FECOT), National Orthopaedic Hospital, Igbobi-Lagos. I graduated as Prosthetist/ Orthotist Assistant in the year 2012 and also further in the year 2014 for an advance course which made me a Prosthetist/Orthotist in the year 2016. I am one of the pioneer graduating student of FECOT, which happens to be the first and only prosthetics and Orthotics training institution in Nigeria.

I am the Chief Executive Officer of Greater-Walks Orthopaedic Care Services, I consult for some government hospitals, private specialist hospitals and as well as NGO’s who specialize in special needs children in Nigeria. I am dedicated to improving the lives of the physically challenged in Nigeria, Africa and the World at large.

Q: Not a very common “occupation”, why did you decide to become an orthotist?
A: While in training school, I had it in mind that when I start to practise, I will specialise in orthotics, because it’s highly brain tasking and I found solace whenever I’m with my patients that need orthotic therapy.

Orthotists are professionals who are professionally trained and certified to fit external braces and other orthopaedic supportive and assistive devices for patients with malformed and weakened human body parts. The goal of orthotists is to enable their patients to function to the possible best of their physical abilities. Orthotists are different from prosthetists who make and fit artificial limbs for patients. Both orthotists and prosthetists use knowledge of medicine, anatomy, engineering and materials science (i.e. biomechanics principle) to enhance the lives of their patients.

However, I practice the both (i.e. Prosthetics/orthotics) because we do not have enough professionals.

Q: How many years have you been practising for?
A: I began practising in 2013 till date [currently four years]

Q:How many scoliosis patients have you seen? What’s the average number of brace you’ve made and scoliosis patients you see per week/month/year?
A: I have seen about 150 patients since I began practising, I have made about 50 spinal braces, and I see about 1 patient in a week, 4 patients in a month and 48 patients in a year.

Q: What do braces do? How do they help?
A: Brace (orthotic) therapy for scoliosis is used to prevent spinal curve progression and to maintain the appearance of the back. The goal of bracing in scoliosis is to prevent the curve from getting worse. Bracing does not correct a curve.

Q: How much do the average brace cost in Nigeria?
A: There is a professional saying in the field of Prosthetics/Orthotics, which says “EVERY PATIENT ARE INDIVIDUALS.” meaning price varies.

Q: What’s the ratio of orthotists to the number of scoliosis patients?
A: We have less than 25 Orthotists/Prosthetists practicing in Nigeria.

Q: Are the patients able to afford braces?
A: Only few patients can afford the price

Q: Common age range of patients you see and type of scoliosis they have [idiopathic, Neuromuscular?]
A: 10-16 years old- Idiopathic
5- 11 years old- Neuromuscular (mostly Cerebral Palsy patients)

Q: How are braces used? Number of times they are worn per day and how to care for your braces.
A: Wear a well-fitting non-ribbed cotton singlet or similar. Wearing your brace is easy, all you need to do is to step into your brace and adjust until it sits comfortably and appropriately around your waist and thread the straps through the buckles and then pull the middle strap until the marks on the Velcro strap are just visible, then fasten the lower and upper straps. You may need help and /or a mirror to best do this but after time you will get used to the right feel. Be patient with yourself as it takes practice.

Q: For girls that are growing breasts, do the braces press their breasts down? How do you cater for this? 
A: During measurement, cast modification and design, the growing breasts are always considered.

Q: How are the braces made- What materials are used in production?
A: Braces are made from different materials depending on some basic factors, such as: Age, patients/clients specification, atmospheric condition, severity of curvature etc. (i.e. things we consider before materials selection). The commonly used materials for scoliosis brace in Nigeria is Thermoplastics, also the commonly prescribed brace in Nigeria is Boston Brace.

Q: The evolving of braces in Nigeria. Have we come a long way? Are we doing better?
A: Hmmmmmmmm, now i can say we are really doing so well with scoliosis bracing in Nigeria, because we are having more skilled and qualified Orthotists. Our braces are cosmetically acceptable, functional and gives comfortability.

Q: What are your thoughts about raising awareness for scoliosis and early detection?
A: Early detection is the key to scoliosis bracing, if the government can be involve in the awareness exercise, it will make every mother and teenagers be conscious of upcoming scoliotic deformity

Q: How can we do better in terms of brace making?
A: We can do better by going for special courses on spinal bracing, or going for residency courses in Spinal Orthotics.

Q: Where do you see the brace making/orthotics field in the next 5 years
A: It will always get better and better every year, in 5years time, more spinal brace fabrication technology would have been introduced to the Nation, such as spinecor, milwaukee brace etc.

Q: Any other information you’ll like to add/tell us 
A: Beyond A Curved Spine (BACS) team should get the Nigeria government involve in the awareness exercise, and also goes to secondary schools in our community to make SCOLIOSIS known to them, because early intervention is the key. Also go to government hospitals and get more data.

Q: Any parting words.
A: When you are fit with your spinal brace, it may be hard, probably uncomfortable and you likely will not want to wear it. You can do this and you are not alone, the first few weeks of brace wear may create challenges but it is important in these days of adjustment to remember that you have a support of your doctor, orthotist and other healthcare professionals as well as your family and friends. Remember to be yourself, be proud to just “BE ME” and to make yourself “BEYOND A CURVED SPINE” and that the brace will not define you but how you responds to it will help shape who you become “UNIQUE YOU’’ and have a ‘’GREATER-WALKS’’ to do exploit.

 

Contact Details
Facebook: Greater-Walks Orthopaedic Care Services
Instagram: @Greater_Walks
Email: gwalksorthopaedics@gmail.com
Mobile No.: +2348077900167; +2348167440966
LinkedIn: Aguda Oluwabunmi Amos

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