Prosthetic devices give new lives to disabled
I Ketut Nesa was just a second grade student at a tourism vocational school here in Badung when he lost his right leg in a tragic traffic accident in 2001.
Ketut was shocked. His dream of becoming a professional hotel manager seemed to have shattered.
Almost 11 years after the accident, Ketut is now leading a happy and productive life as a producer of prosthetic aids — artificial devices that replace missing body parts.
After the accident, Ketut had to walk using an artificial leg his parents bought in Surakarta. “I was so afraid of using the prosthetic leg. I didn’t know how to repair it when it was broken.”
The eagerness to learn more about making and repairing his artificial leg led him to his current profession — prosthetic aid producer.
At Yakkum, or the Rehabilitation Network for the Physically Challenged, together with his two friends, I Made Sumarta and Komang Sumerta, Ketut is producing braces and prosthetic devices for people with physical disabilities.
“Now, my dream is to help as many disabled people as possible to have prosthetic aids to help them continue their productive years,” Ketut said.
At Yakkum, Ketut and his friends are creating orthopedic shoes, braces, ankle-foot orthoses (AFO) and back slabs.
This year, Ketut and his team were given a quite ambitious target to produce a variety of 200 prosthetic aids — 100 prostheses, 33 braces, 14 pairs of orthopedic shoes, 40 AFO and 10 back slabs.
All of these devices are to be distributed for free to people who need such items.
“The majority of people with disabilities here suffered from polio during their childhood,” he said, adding that the polio vaccination was still a luxury at that time.
He explained that there are several types of prostheses. A transtibial prosthesis is an artificial limb that replaces a leg missing below the knee, while a transfemoral prosthesis is an artificial limb that replaces a leg missing above the knee.
Ketut said that before Yakkum set up this workshop, disabled people in Badung and the surrounding areas faced difficulties in finding the right prosthetic devices to support them.
“We have to make precise measurements of a person’s body in order to produce a device that suits his or her missing limb,” Ketut said. They later produce prototypes of the devices.
Many disabled people come from low-income families who cannot afford such expensive prosthetic devices.
Yakkum has distributed hundreds of prosthetic devices to people with disabilities since 2004, especially those coming from poor families.
“These prosthetic devices not only help us regain our lives in physical terms, but they also help save our souls,” Ketut said.