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A Brisbane hospital is the first public hospital in the country to offer new groundbreaking prosthetic leg technology, getting patients back on their feet faster and with fewer complications.

Wes Raddysh is one patient whose life is back on track after a serious motorbike accident a year ago.

He was on his way to an interview for his dream job as a ferry skipper in Noosa after retiring to the Sunshine Coast.

Wes was given access to new technology at the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.
Wes was given access to new technology at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. (Supplied)

”I was early for the interview, wasn’t speeding and a gentleman pulled out into the car park, didn’t see me, drove right into me and the rest is history,” Raddysh said.

He was airlifted to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital for emergency surgery, undergoing seven operations in thirty-eight days and having to come to terms with the loss of his leg.

“I first thought I was going to die and thought ‘well if I go now that’s okay, I’ve had a great life’,” Raddysh recalled.

Wes underwent seven operations in 38 days and having to come to terms with the loss of his leg.
Wes underwent seven operations in 38 days and having to come to terms with the loss of his leg. (Supplied)

“But then you start thinking past that and you think ‘jeez, well I’m not done doing what I want to do’.”

Raddysh began his recovery journey which involved trying to use prosthetic legs – something he says was a frustrating experience.

“They didn’t seem to work well, they weren’t fitting well, there was a lot of pain involved. I couldn’t walk, I got up to a couple hundred metres maximum and thought this is not great.”

Three months ago, a breakthrough came when Raddysh was given access to new technology at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

It’s the only public hospital in Australia now using hydrostatic, or water pressure, casting thanks to public donations.

A Brisbane hospital is the first public hospital in the country to offer new groundbreaking prosthetic leg technology, getting patients back on their feet faster and with fewer complications. Wes Raddysh is one patient whose life is back on track after a serious motorbike accident a year ago.
Wes has his life is back on track after a serious motorbike accident a year ago. (Nine)

To make a prosthetic leg, a plaster cast of a patient’s residual limb is taken with clinicians traditionally using their hands to mould it into shape.

It’s a process that has been used for decades, according to Jessica Angus, RBWH Director of Orthotics and Prosthetics and a crucial first step to getting a well-fitted prosthetic leg.

“So we would press on either sides of the leg or on the back of the leg,” Angus explained.

“And obviously that leads to a lot of errors because every clinician does it differently. So every clinician pushes with a different amount of pressure.

“With the traditional legs, patients would need to come back two or three times for adjustments.”

Director of Orthotics and Prosthetics Jessica Angus said with the traditional legs patients would need to come back two or three times for adjustments.
Director of Orthotics and Prosthetics Jessica Angus said with the traditional legs patients would need to come back two or three times for adjustments. (Nine)

And even then, Angus says, problems can happen.

“So the main thing is it’s uncomfortable and the patient doesn’t want to wear it, but it can also cause skin breakdown. So they can have wounds on their leg if the pressure hasn’t been distributed properly.”

The new technique, which is carried out with a small casting tank, leaves less room for error.

It involves a standing patient resting their affected leg on a silicone membrane in a cylinder filled with water.

Water pressure is then applied to the limb while in full weight bearing mode to distribute a more even force for an accurate fit.

Raddysh immediately noticed the difference when he was presented with his new prosthetic leg.

Wes' wife Libby has noticed her husband's renewed optimism.
Wes’ wife Libby has noticed her husband’s renewed optimism. (Supplied)

“I put it on and I could walk straight away. It was the Eureka moment. It was unbelievable and I had faith again that I could do something, get my life back.”

The expensive casting equipment has been made possible thanks to the RBWH Foundation’s Gift of Time appeal with Queenslanders being urged to donate again this Christmas.

“The foundation and the community come together to fund really great and important research projects that make a difference and would not happen otherwise,” according to Simone Garske, RBWH Foundation CEO.

Raddysh couldn’t be more grateful for the donations from generous Queenslanders.

He was able to reschedule the ferry skipper interview he missed and was offered the job.

But even more satisfying, he’s become active again after years of previously training for running and cycling marathons.

Wes was able to reschedule the ferry skipper interview he missed and was offered the job.
Wes was able to reschedule the ferry skipper interview he missed and was offered the job. (Nine)

“I paddle boarded down in Sydney on the weekend which was fantastic,” Raddysh said.

“I’m getting back on the bike next week – they’ve made me another leg with a cut out the back so I can actually bend my knee more to do that. I booked a cycling event for next April so I’d better get fit for that.”

Raddysh’s wife Libby has noticed her husband’s renewed optimism.

“It means everything to be up and get mobile and get on with life the way you were,” she said.

Raddysh agrees it’s given him a new lease on life.

“I was at the point of giving up, you know.” he said.

“You read a lot of things about people that never wear a prosthetic leg or they’re eight years on and can’t walk more than ten feet and stuff like that so that was a game changer. It’s giving me hope again.”

For more information on how to donate go to the Gift of Time appeal, go to the RBWH website.

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