Dan Mead shows one of the stages of a prosthetic leg device made at the Sudbury facility.
This new Sudbury-based business opened its doors in November 2009 and within six months served its 100th client. Daniel and Leslie Mead, a husband and wife team, saw a need for their skills and services in the area.
Both are graduates from George Brown College’s Clinical Methods in Prosthetics and Orthotics program and have practiced in southern Ontario for five and six years respectively.
Dan, a certified prosthetist, practiced at Hamilton Health Sciences as a member of the amputee rehabilitation team providing the most advanced technology in upper and lower prosthetic devices for amputees of all ages.
A certified orthotist, Leslie gained experience in London in pediatric orthotics, custom spinal bracing for scoliosis and trauma, plagiocephaly helmets, foot orthotics and leg and arm braces.
“We educate the patient about what is out there and we reach the goals together,” said Leslie.
Dan said they are willing to bring the most up-to-date, applicable technology to the patient.
“Our philosophy is that this person has a set of goals, motivations and desires for being in our office. You have to help that person meet those goals. There are a lot of different routes and pathways you can take to get to that end.”
To date, patient feedback has been positive and appreciative.
The Meads work collaboratively within a 2,000-square-foot space that provides well-lit consultation rooms, a casting room and an area with parallel bars to try lower extremity prostheses. Full-length mirrors provide clients an opportunity to see their posture. The various devices are created in a workshop on the premises. Both Leslie and Dan work with the patients from consultation to end product, fostering greater consistency of service.
“The nice thing about having a lab in the city where you live is that if you do have a problem, you can fine tune it,” Dan said. “You have all the tools and materials here to make the necessary changes.”
This also provides a fairly quick turnaround time for the client. Wait times for orthotic devices is two weeks and prosthetics is three weeks for the initial fitting.
Whether the need is for foot orthotics, prostheses, a body jacket or a leg brace, a full physical assessment is performed.
“Even though we get the prescription (from the doctor), we do a full physical assessment,” Leslie said, explaining they need to know where the instability or weakness lies in order to make a proper device.
“How we make the braces depends on what we find in the assessment. An ankle-foot orthotic can be made 25 different ways,” Dan said.
Prosthetic & Orthotic Design Ltd. also provides technologically advanced prosthetic devices like C-legs and the i-LIMB Hand that use microprocessors and myoelectrics. Treatment for plagiocephaly, flat spots that can develop on a baby’s skull from resting on one side more than the other, is also available. Previously, patients had to travel to Toronto or Ottawa for these services.
The C-leg is a computerized prosthesis for above-knee amputees that contains a microprocessor-controlled knee, which results in a more natural gait.
“When you see someone walking with a C-leg compared with someone walking with any other knee joint out there, if they are a good walker, it is difficult to tell they are an amputee,” Dan said, adding that a second mode allows participation in sports like skiing or golf.
Excited about the technology and the impact it can have on an amputee’s life, Dan recently obtained his certification for Touch Bionics myoelectric hands, a special training required to fit the i-LIMB Hand. The articulating bionic hand has four, independent, fully-powered fingers and an articulating, rotating-powered thumb. The limb can perform more natural movements with the ability to grasp, bend, touch, pick-up and point. Previously, myoelectric hands were more claw-like and could only perform a pinch grip.
The Meads have also provided some outreach clinics in several northeastern Ontario communities.
As they move forward and fill a portion of the orthotic and prosthetic market previously unavailable to people in northeastern Ontario, they hope to develop a stronger relationship with the hospital and work in concert with its services to benefit the community.
“We’d like to develop that,” Dan said. “In a lot of places in Ontario, the private prosthetic and orthotic businesses work closely with the public services,” providing complementary services.