The Health News – 22 April 2016

Overview:
• Between minefields, booby traps, gunshot wounds and tropical infections, the loss of limbs is an inevitable part of war. But an amputation is no longer the life sentence it was after World War I thanks to dramatic advances in prosthetic technology.

• Dozens of mental health beds across South Australia are just weeks away from closing and 110 jobs are on the line as funding negotiations stall between the state and federal governments.

• A northern New South Wales doctor and politician are calling for an investigation into the cancer diagnoses of about 30 people living within a few hundred metres of each other in the Tweed Shire village of Mooball.

News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the  22nd of April 2016. Read by Rebecca Foster. Health News

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-21/how-war-amputees-drove-the-prosthetics-industry/7342626

Between minefields, booby traps, gunshot wounds and tropical infections, the loss of limbs is an inevitable part of war.

But an amputation is no longer the life sentence it was after World War I thanks to dramatic advances in prosthetic technology.

At the Caulfield hospital in Melbourne’s south-east, some of the earliest prostheses used by veterans are kept in a small display cabinet, showing just how far things have come over the past 100 years.

The hospital was established as one of Australia’s first military rehabilitation hospitals and has treated amputee veterans since 1916.

Back then a split tree trunk with some leather straps was the best offering for a replacement leg, but over time veterans demanded better.

“Essentially after World War II, the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association formed because of the drive from amputees to upgrade components.

“That’s when the initial impact in innovation happened.

“Since then it’s taken [later] wars to boost the prosthesis to the next level.”

In the 1950s, major strides were being made in prosthesis, and amputation surgery was progressed with the help of muscle transplant technology.

The introduction of the hinged knee was followed by a major international investment in biomechanics during the 1960s.

Dr Lavranos said the buzzword in the prosthetic industry today was “embodiment” — where the amputee is so at ease with their prosthesis that it becomes part of their physical and personal identity.

Still, he said patients’ responses to amputations and their interaction with a prosthesis was a highly personal experience.

… the collection at the Caulfield hospital only exists because veterans’ family members returned the prostheses when they were no longer needed, not wanting to throw the important artefact away.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-21/sa-mental-health-service-cuts-flagged-as-funding-runs-out/7344786

Dozens of mental health beds across South Australia are just weeks away from closing and 110 jobs are on the line as funding negotiations stall between the state and federal governments.

SA Mental Health Minister Leesa Vlahos said two national partnership funding agreements worth about $20 million would come to an end June.

Community-service provider, Neami National, will close more than 30 respite and in home beds next month.

SA Health is expected to close 20 community rehabilitation beds in Whyalla and Mount Gambier due to funding concerns.

Ms Vlahos said she was working to find the funds to continue a forensic facility that houses inmates found not guilty due to mental incompetence.

Ms Vlahos said the State Government had been “trying to talk to the Federal Government about this for a number of months” but had no communication returned.

Ms Vlahos said the uncertainty surrounding the funding was unfair on patients and staff.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-21/residents-divided-over-mooball-cancer-cluster/7341536

A northern New South Wales doctor and politician are calling for an investigation into the cancer diagnoses of about 30 people living within a few hundred metres of each other in the Tweed Shire village of Mooball.

Ron Marshall, 92, is related to 10 of them.

Mr Marshall has lost five brothers, a nephew and two daughters to the disease.

His wife Marcia, who died three years ago at age 78, is believed to have had stomach cancer.

And his sister-in-law has been diagnosed with breast cancer, but is still alive.

All of them have lived on the Tweed Valley Way in Mooball.

“There have been so many deaths in this village,” Mr Marshall said.

“And it’s not a big village.”

Mr Marshall’s brothers Ken, Geoff, George, Arthur and Lloyd not only lived on the Tweed Valley Way, they had all also spent time working in a sand mining processing plant in nearby Pottsville Road.

When truckloads of sand tailings from the plant were offered to Mooball residents as fill for their yards more than four decades ago, Mr Marshall gratefully accepted.

They wanted to dump it and we had blocks of lands that needed building up and it was free, so we took it,” he said.

“My little ones played in it.

“You didn’t have to go to the beach to get sand, we had it here.

“They put it in their mouths and everything.”

It was not until the deaths of his daughters — Bernadette, 11 years ago at age 49, and Amanda, five years ago at 46 — that Mr Marshall and some other Mooball residents began to question whether the sand tailings were to blame for the liver and breast cancer diagnoses.

“Kids should bury their parents, not parents bury their kids,” Mr Marshall said.

“Everyone started saying, ‘it must be the sand’.”

Tweed Heads doctor Paul Malouf and Greens MLC Jan Barham are calling for an investigation into the deaths.

Ms Barham has tabled a list of questions about the issue in the New South Wales Parliament.

However, North Coast Public Health Unit director Paul Corben said the information he had been presented with was too vague to warrant an investigation.

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