Prosthetic, Orthotic & Limb Absence Rehabilitation (POLAR) Programme

The Prosthetic, Orthotic and Limb Absence Rehabilitation (POLAR) Programme

The Prosthetic, Orthotic and Limb Absence Rehabilitation (POLAR) Programme at the NRH provides specialised, interdisciplinary limb absence rehabilitation for patients who have experienced amputation as a result of vascular disease, trauma, cancer, infection or any other cause, and patients with congenital limb absence. This comprehensive rehabilitation service is offered to patients whether or not prosthesis is appropriate.

Sport in encouraged to patients on the POLAR Programme

Sport in encouraged to patients on the POLAR Programme

This is the only prosthetic service in the country to provide the full range of care required by amputees, and also includes a pre-amputation assessment service. Prosthetic limbs and Orthotics are manufactured and fitted on site in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in collaboration with our strategic partner, Ability Matters.

What are Prosthetics and Orthotics?

Prosthetics is the manufacture and fitting of artificial limbs (prostheses). Prosthetic limbs are fitted by Prosthetists who are members of the clinical team. Orthotics is the manufacture and fitting or orthoses which are devises designed to correct a patient’s physical posture and function, for example, specialised footwear, ankle and knee supports. The service provides a full range of prostheses from traditional conventional metal limbs through to hi-tech prosthetics and high-definition silicone cosmeses.

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The Prosthetic, Orthotic and Limb Absence Rehabilitation (POLAR) Programme at the NRH

The POLAR Programme at NRH is backed by experience, clinical expertise and a solid reputation for excellence. The programme is led by a Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine and provides a full complement of services including:

  • Medical
  • Nursing and Clinical Support
  • Therapy Services
  • Patient Services (administration)

Clinical / Therapy services can include; Prosthetic and Orthotic Services, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Hydrotherapy, Vocational assessment, Chiropody, Nutrition & Dietetics, Psychology and Medical Social Work. For children, a full programme is available including schooling while in hospital and an annual summer camp. A full range of orthotics is also available to all our patients.

Participating in activities at the NRH gym.

Participating in activities at the NRH gym.

Pre-admission assessment considers medical and rehabilitation needs including: Medical, physical, cognitive, psychological, social, behavioural, vocational, educational, cultural, family, spiritual and leisure and recreational needs.

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Admission to the POLAR Programme

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Following admission to the Programme, the Interdisciplinary Team members, led by the Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine, in collaboration with the patient and their family, develop personalised, holistic treatment plans to address the individual needs of the each patient.

Every patient is encouraged to become an active participant in shaping their rehabilitation programme. They are offered appropriate information and opportunity for feedback at every stage of the process.

The Programme at NRH has developed a continuum of care for people with limb loss, encompassing the inpatient rehabilitation phase, outpatient phase and linkages to community services. This continuum of care ensures that all individuals can receive the most appropriate programme of care based on their injury and their individual rehabilitation needs. The Interdisciplinary Team recognises that there is an ever increasing emphasis on the patient perspective in all aspects of their health care.

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The Interdisciplinary Team

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The Interdisciplinary Team within the Programme (also called the POLAR Team) provides specialised rehabilitation treatment and care, designed to assist people who have experienced amputation or limb absence, and their families / carers, to:

  • Adjust to their limb absence
  • Achieve the safest possible level of physical independence
  • Promote greater levels of functional independence
  • Participate socially and in the community

The Interdisciplinary Team works together with patients and their families and carers to achieve the best possible outcome from the Rehabilitation Programme, which is tailored to meet each patient’s individual needs. Patient care and treatment for the Prosthetic, Orthotic and Limb Absence Rehabilitation Programme is delivered by the Interdisciplinary Teams, with clinical responsibility led by Dr. Jacqui Stow (Medical Director for the Programme). In addition, the Consultant in Rehabilitation Medicine who provides a specialist service to the Programme is Dr. Nicola Ryall.  The programme aims to discharge all inpatients after they have achieved their desired rehabilitation goals and have received maximum benefit from the programme.

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The Prosthetic Service

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Patients referred to the Prosthetic Service can be seen as Outpatients at clinics in Dublin and Cork, or at the Satellite clinics based in:

  • Donegal
  • Galway
  • Mayo
  • Carrick-on-Shannon, Leitrim

Those needing admission for further assessment, gait training and related issues are admitted to the NRH. Prosthetic limbs are manufactured and fitted on site in the National Rehabilitation Hospital in collaboration with our strategic partner Ability Matters. Type of Prosthesis manufactured by the NRH and Ability Matters Strategic Partnership:

  • Thru-Hip
  • Above Knee
  • Thru-Knee
  • Below Knee
  • NSKT (New Socket)
  • Above Elbow
  • Below Elbow
  • Socket
  • Other appliances

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Referrals to the POLAR Programme

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Referrals to the POLAR Programme at NRH are made by medical practitioner; either a Consultant or GP.  The service is available to both adults and children. Each patient referred, and their family, are offered education regarding prevention of complications and management of risk factors such as diabetes and vascular disease.

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Therapeutic Weekend Leave

For some patients, therapeutic weekend leave may be incorporated into the rehabilitation programme to enable the person to practice the skills in the home that they have learned in the Programme, and to facilitate the gradual reintegration of the person into their home and community.

Patient Demographics, Activity and Outcomes for 2022

Continuous Improvement

Improving the quality of patient treatment and improving access for patients on the waiting list is of the highest priority at NRH.

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