A five-year-old girl from Prestatyn, who had a double amputation after her first birthday, is set to benefit from new funding for sports prosthetics.
Elizabeth Roberts was diagnosed with Fibular hemimelia, a birth defect where part or all of the fibular bone is missing, while she was still in the womb. The condition is a very rare disorder, and bilaterally it occurs in only 1 in a million births.
The youngster was born with bones missing in her legs and following her double amputation she was fitted with prosthetic legs by the Posture & Mobility Service at Wrexham’s Artificial Limb & Appliance Service.
Her mum, Rebecca Roberts, said: “There has certainly been challenges with the current prosthetics, they are quite heavy and stiff.
“They restrict Elizabeth from running around in the playground with her friends and make her slightly slower than everyone else.”
Rebecca, who petitioned the Welsh Government for extra funding to provide child sports prosthetics for children, says she is delighted a new fund has been made available to provide this specialist equipment.
The funding of £417,000 a year will provide extra staff and resources at three specialists centres in Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham, where children and young people under 25 can be assessed and provided with running and swimming prosthetics. The fund will open from April next year and children and young people can discuss this at their next regular assessment for their prostheses.
“These sports prosthetics will make a huge difference to my daughter and other amputees across Wales.
“As a family we are thrilled, these prosthetics are designed to make it easier to run and they are also a lot lighter.
“She absolutely loves cheering her dad on when he takes part in running competitions so next year she could run along with him a bit as well!,” added Rebecca.
Elizabeth has been under the care of the Posture & Mobility Service since she was 15 months old and Rebecca says her and her family are extremely grateful for the care they have received.
She said: “The Posture & Mobility Service have been amazing with Elizabeth, they’ve been with us throughout her journey.
“They have always tried to make things as easy as possible and when Elizabeth was struggling they went out their way to get some pink sparkly prosthetics which she loved and it made such a difference.
“This team really shows the NHS at its best.”
Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “We want all our children and young people to enjoy an active lifestyle. This new fund will support the next generation of children and young disabled people to be more active. I hope all those eligible will apply to the fund and enjoy the benefits of an active lifestyle.”
Rachel Malcolm, Senior Prosthetist, said: “‘We are really excited to have the opportunity, through this new funding, to open doors for our children and young people. This is something we have been hoping for, for some time, especially after similar funding was announced in England in 2016.
“It’s brilliant to know that this funding is supporting not only provision of the prosthetic limbs but also the staffing and expertise needed to produce and fit them and on an ongoing basis for those up to the age of 25.
"Children and young people are naturally on the move, so running and being active are an integral part of childhood development, and we are so pleased to be able to facilitate this and encourage them to develop into fit and active adults.
“As healthcare professionals it is important for us to be able to give our patients the best tools to be themselves, take part in everyday life and to achieve their goals. This new funding and the ability to develop our service that it brings, will help us achieve that for our patients.”