A woman who was unable to use her arm properly following a cycling accident 19 years ago has undergone ground-breaking surgery to install a custom-made prosthetic bone.
Julie Martin, 67, of Waltham Chase, Hampshire, fractured her elbow when she fell off her bike in 1998 and, despite numerous operations, has not been able to use her left arm normally since.
I now have so much more movement in my arm and this has made a real difference to my everyday life. The level of pain has reduced drastically
The injury and pain led to her leaving her job as a careers advisor.
Now, surgeons from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have carried out cutting-edge surgery to replace her humerus with a bespoke prosthesis. This has given her back significant function, enabling her to once again perform simple actions such as use a knife and fork and hold a cup of coffee.
Commenting on the procedure, which was carried out at the Northern General Hospital, Martin said: “I am immensely grateful to the surgeons and the team that looked after me, not only for their skills, but also the kindness and respect with which I was treated.
“I now have so much more movement in my arm and this has made a real difference to my everyday life. The level of pain has reduced drastically.”
The initial injury happened when she fell off her bike while out for a summer cycle ride with husband Ray in 1998.
She said: “It completely changed my life. I couldn’t lift my arm above waist height and I had to support it with my right arm.
“I had to give up driving, which was a big thing for me as I was quite an independent person.
“I was spending a lot of time in hospital and convalescing, and, although my employers were very good, eventually I had to give up my job, which I had loved.
“It knocked my confidence in getting around on my own without Ray, because I was worried about falling again. Things like getting on the bus worried me.”
Following the accident, Martin underwent more than 20 operations, including bone and skin grafts, and was referred to experts in Sheffield in 2006.
A bone graft in 2010 was a success, until a fall in the garden damaged the arm again.
I was spending a lot of time in hospital and convalescing, and, although my employers were very good, eventually I had to give up my job, which I had loved
The new injury, and the large number of previous operations, meant she had only a small amount of bone remaining in her upper arm and, consequently, the latest injury could not be treated with any routine procedure.
This left her facing the prospect of being unable to use her arm at all, and therefore the decision was made to totally replace the lost bone in the upper arm with a custom-made metal prosthesis, manufactured by a specialist firm in America.
The operation, carried out by consultant shoulder and elbow surgeon, Amjid Ali, lasted seven hours.
Martin said: “Now I can use a knife and fork and dress myself.
“It is not until these abilities are taken away from you that you really appreciate them.”
The operation is only carried out in rare circumstances, with just a few hospitals in the country having the expertise to do it.
It was the first of its kind done in the Sheffield region.
Martin can now carry out simple tasks like holding a knife and fork