EVERY three hours in Australia, somebody has a limb amputated.
South Fremantle resident and Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital senior physiotherapist Beck Hefferon sees first hand the impact losing a limb, often because of diabetes, can have on ordinary people and now has the chance to do more about it.
For eight weeks next year she will consult and learn from the best in her field from the USA, Sweden, Germany and the UK after she was named a 2016 Churchill Fellow.
Ms Hefferon said the fellowship would give her the opportunity to learn about international physiotherapy and rehabilitation methods for amputees.
“We know that physiotherapy is part of a multi-disciplinary approach that can make the biggest difference to improve quality of life after surgery for amputees and without it, the chances of significant secondary problems such as mobility issues and chronic pain are much higher, and a patient’s outcomes can be much worse,” she said.
“Another thing we know is that physiotherapy is evolving, with overseas leaders in the field not just researching but developing, right now, innovative, effective and beneficial treatments and techniques.
“Those are the leaders who this Churchill Fellowship will put me in direct contact with, to learn from and work alongside, which is just such an incredible opportunity.
“To be able to go to them, and not just find out the information but bring it back and translate it into meaningful change, is a once-in-a-lifetime chance, which has the potential to help so many people.”
She is the third local woman to receive the fellowship in as many years after Rebecca Prince-Ruiz in 2015 and Susan Benson in 2014.
Winston Churchill Memorial Trust chief executive Adam Davey said he looked forward to seeing Ms Hefferon’s research put into action.
“We were told that there are better methods in the world to help amputees and this is exactly what a Churchill Fellowship is designed to do, send everyday people overseas to investigate a topic around their expertise and bring information back for the betterment of Australia,” he said.
“I look forward to seeing what her research reveals and her report into how overseas experience can improve Australian medical practice and the quality of life for Australians.”