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LLLDAM 2024

LLLDAM 2024

April is Limb Loss & Limb Difference Awareness Month (LLLDAM).

Writing that alone brings back forcibly the changes in attitude towards amputees and people with limb loss and limb difference since the inception of the DBF over 40 years ago.

The Douglas Bader Foundation and LLLDAM 2024

The Douglas Bader Foundation began following the death of Sir Douglas Bader on September 5th 1982. His widow, the late Lady Joan Bader, and family, received hundreds of messages from amputees and people with disabilities that he’d visited and supported in his lifetime asking for his inspiration to continue following his death. The sheer quantity and the poignancy of the messages themselves proved impossible to ignore. After considerable thought, meetings with Douglas’s friends, and consultations with legal and medical advisers including Dr. Vitali OBE, a physician specialising in the treatment and care of amputees including Sir Douglas, the Douglas Bader Foundation was born.

What is extraordinary to those of us who were there at the beginning of this incredible journey is that in 1982 there were only a couple of charities specifically focusing on and assisting amputees and this was a prime driving force in encouraging us to proceed with what initially seemed such a daunting task. Both the Limbless Association (1983) and Blesma, founded in the aftermath of WWW1, were incredibly helpful and, particularly with none of the DBF team being amputees, their support and advice at that time was invaluable and greatly appreciated.

How things have changed! The number of charities and organisations assisting amputees (12 on this list alone) has grown beyond all imagination, which is heartwarming to see. We are proud to work closely with many of these sister charities and and commend them on their hard work and dedication to amputees and people with limb difference. There’s no doubt that they all make life changing differences to the lived experiences of amputees and their families. Let’s celebrate LLLDAM 2024!

Nationwide Amputee Support Groups and Charities

The quality and wearability of prosthetics available to amputees and people with limb difference now bears no resemblance to those that Sir Douglas wore in his lifetime. And his were considered to be the best available at the time!

LLLDAM 2024
These cumbersome prosthetic legs were once “state of the art”! This is a rare image of Sir Douglas showing his “tin legs”.

It would have been wonderful to see what Sir Douglas, with his physical strength and sporting prowess would have been able to achieve with today’s ingenious prosthetics. It makes what he did achieve and his refusal ever to walk with a stick all the more remarkable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sporting achievements of so many amputees and people with limb difference now are incredible and it is wonderful that they, and people with other disabilities, are now able to compete as representatives of National teams representing their countries in the ever improving Paralympic Games and other sporting events. The Paralympics began at Stoke Mandeville when the 9th Stoke Mandeville Games in Rome was considered to be the first Paralympic Games. Oscar Pistorius (remember him?!) , known as “Blade Runner“, and “the fastest man on no legs“, ran so fast on his blades that some non-disabled athletes complained that he had an unfair advantage!

An important development that has gone alongside the inclusion of amputees in important sporting events is the visual acceptance of prosthetic limbs by both the wearer and the viewing public. It doesn’t seem long ago that it was unusual to see amputees displaying their prosthetic limbs ad Sir Douglas himself was always loath to expose his. Now however, it’s commonplace and this lack of self-consciousness and often, indeed, pride in their prosthetics is something to celebrate. Many now are even being designed as fashionable accessories as you can see from some of the Instagram posts below.

LLLDAM 2024
Amputee Lauren featured on Instagram – with thanks to Arm Dynamics, see below…

Now, of course, if amputees are fortunate enough geographically to live in developed countries, there is the possibility of acquiring bespoke prosthetics for a variety of activities. Also, thanks to the ingenuity and good will of companies like Koalaa MITT, the opportunity to obtain low cost (or even free thanks to the recent Koalaa MITT initiative DBF was proud to support) prosthetics that require minimum maintenance and yet can increase independence and change the wearer’s life. We are also delighted to see that the vision and determination of Legs4Africa has broken through the red tape to – finally – enable obsolete prosthetics to be repurposed by amputees in low-income countries across sub-Saharan Africa, thereby changing lives there and broadening the scope and power of the amputee and limb difference community across the globe.

It’s terrible to think back to the difficulties and complications that lay in store for a traumatic amputee even quite recently and the developments in in prosthetics are improving and levelling out all the time. Many amputees can now look forward to independent mobility and the opportunity to be involved in a huge variety of sports and activities. It’s exciting to imagine what the future will bring in this unbelievably rapidly developing medical field.

Amongst other lists relating to amputees and people with limb difference, Arm Dynamics, prosthetic arm experts with over 25 years of upper limb-focused care, have produced this one which the Instagram followers might enjoy:

12 People with a Limb Difference to Follow on Instagram

If you are an amputee or have limb difference and would like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you. Please do get in touch and let’s spread the word during LLLDAM 2024!

The Bader Grant Scheme and LLLDAM 2024

In the spirit of Sir Douglas’s inspiration since its inception in 1995 the Bader Grant Scheme has offered financial support to amputees and people with other disabilities to help them to achieve individual goals and dreams. We will be featuring some of our amputee and limb different grant recipients over this LLLDAM month.

We also continue to award Bader Grants to a wide variety of applicants with an even wider variety of goals. Please get in touch with us if you’d like to apply and pursue your own goal.