Children and young people's attitudes to their prosthetic limbs are focus of Southampton conference
It is rare that conferences are organised specifically to share the results of a research study with its participants and their families.
But this happened for a group of children and young people with limb absence who took part in a University of Southampton research project exploring their views of prosthetic limbs. The research is a partnership between the University and two charities: the Meningitis Trust and STEPS. It is funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
The conference entitled Our bodies, our views! Children and young people's attitudes to their prosthesis was held at the University's Avenue Campus recently and aimed to share the findings of the study, direct future research in this area and encourage the exchange of information relating to children, young people and prosthetics.
Of the 145 delegates that attended the conference, almost half were participants and their families from across the UK. The other delegates included healthcare professionals, academics and the general public.
Dr Maggie Donovan-Hall, a researcher and lecturer in chartered health psychology, and Suryana Mohamad, a PhD student at the University of Southampton presented the initial findings of the project, which is the first to ask children and young people with limb absence their views on artificial limbs, rather than asking their parents. The research team also includes Professor Lucy Yardley, who is co-principal investigator.
Final results from the research project - which consisted of two studies, one with older children and young people between 11 and 18 years of age and another with young children between 5 and 10 years of age - will be available in September.
The keynote speaker was Helen Smith, who lost all her limbs through meningitis while still a student. She spoke of her experiences of prosthetic limbs and her initial struggle for prosthetics that met her needs. The afternoon workshops were both serious and fun, and included a chance for younger attendees to interview and video record each other, as well as for parents and clinicians to discuss their views and the direction of future research.
Dr Donovan-Hall explains: "All too often, the results of research studies are not shared directly with the people they are meant to help, but just shared with other researchers. We wanted to organise an informal conference to involve everyone who has helped us with our research and who has a real interest in what might happen in terms of health policy and approach as a result of our findings."
Kristian Rigby, a young person who participated in the study said he enjoyed the conference tremendously, adding: "It has made me more determined than ever to pursue my career with people with disabilities."
Notes for editors
The conference was sponsored by Ossur; Otto Bock; Opcare, and the Dorset Orthopaedic Company, and a crèche was provided by the Sunshine Pre-school and Day Nursery.
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