What’s good for the goose…

Society should certainly strive for equality, but no two patients are the same. It is important for prosthetists to consider each individual case

This phrase originates from the 1670s and it originally meant that male and female geese could be cooked in the same sauce. A few centuries later it referred to men and women, suggesting that both sexes should be treated equally and that whatever applies to the man should also apply to a woman.

Today, people use this phrase when comparing one person to another irrespective of gender. I have witnessed that many prosthetists adopt this approach when treating patients. I have also seen this approach when clinicians supply wheelchairs. Somehow the party who renders the treatment adopts the mindset that whatever works for patient A will be “OK” for patient B.

In my view there are a few reasons for this attitude:

Profit margin

This consideration regularly presents itself in a world where integrity diminishes and survival becomes more challenging. In short, people will sell a certain product because they can make more money on it.


Sometimes medical professionals operate in a bubble. They have views set in stone of certain procedures and products without any regard to, or knowledge of, exactly what is happening on the other side of the fence.

Then there’s the patient

An individual is a complex human being with emotions that are being challenged to the max.  Conventional scientific treatment is not always the answer. If you dig deeper, you will often discover that device rejection is related to factors such as family conditions, personality clashes, ergonomics, self-image, childhood experiences and dreams, personal likes and dislikes, society and peer pressure and expectation, religion and marriage stability.

So, my advice to all is this: please spend that extra three-and-a-half minutes getting to know your individual patient a little more holistically. At the end, both parties will greatly benefit and the chance of getting the goose back into the air is so much better!

SAOPA fans its feathers

The South African Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (SAOPA) hosted their biannual congress at the Bloem Spa and Conference Centre in Bloemfontein from September 6 to 8. Prosthetists, amputees, suppliers and funders flocked to the congress.

The SAOPA annual general meeting took place at the congress, which also hosted various stands from prosthetic and orthotic suppliers such as Ottobock. The global giant in assistive devices displayed its various prostheses and wheelchairs.

A lamb spit and live entertainment at the end of a busy two days were highly appreciated. Bloem Spa is the home of a beautiful flock of peacocks. These birds are beautiful to look at, especially when they fan their feathers. Believe me, when they scream their distinctive peacock “YELP” at 3h00, they are more effective than any alarm clock!

Two years ago, SAOPA embarked on a mission to renew and strengthen its membership and, more importantly, align itself with the current rules, legislation and regulations of the South African healthcare environment, which is becoming more difficult to navigate by the day. It seems that SAOPA has aligned and anchored itself steadily to face and tackle whatever the future might bring!


Heinrich Grimsehl is a prosthetist in private practice and a member of the South African Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (SAOPA). email: info@hgprosthetics.co.za

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