‘I took my first step in nine years’ – Uttamkumar Isurdeen  

DPI, Guyana, Friday, April 12, 2019

Thirty-four-year-old, father of one, Uttamkumar Isurdeen is a person living with a disability after he was involved in a vehicular accident in 2010. He suffered tremendous damaged to his spinal cord and has been using a wheelchair ever since to assist with his mobility.

On April 12, 2019, Isurdeen confidently testified that he took his first step in nine years. This was after an intervention was made through the collaboration of the Ministry of Public Health with PAHO/WHO and ProsthetiKa, an international agency with the mission of restoring mobility to persons without it.

Collaborators started work at the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre to provide orthotics by utilising multidisciplinary measures to address spinal injuries and abnormalities.

A prosthetic brace was made to support Isurdeen’s hips, knees, ankles and feet to assist with relative moment. He remarked that the intervention has changed his life and “it is only the beginning.’

Isurdeen recalled the accident when he was in the front passenger seat of a minibus which was being driven at a reckless rate, causing the vehicle to flip several times seriously injuring the passengers on board.

“Since then, up until now, I thought it was a huge setback. However, I didn’t think about giving up despite there was no advanced technology which would help me to walk again. But, today is the day after nine years I took my first set of steps. It was a breakthrough for me to get a brace, to stand up,” he said.

Jon Batzdorff, President of ProsthetiKa said, “we made this HKAFO, Hip, Knee, Ankle, Foot Orthosis and it was a big job, everybody worked on this job. So, he put it on and was ready to try it to stand up independently. He stood and waved… that was another victory.”

According to Batzdorff, the project changes people’s lives, and they are happy to have given Isurdeen the opportunity to be mobile again. This service offered by ProsthetiKa is provided free of charge to beneficiaries. These braces could amount to hundreds of thousands of Guyana dollars.

The ProsthetiKa’s President said he never expected for Isurdeen to be walking on the very first day after trying the brace. He noted that minor adjustments would be made which will allow him to walk more ably with support from the orthosis.

Isurdeen said that he is soon to begin a new job in an administrative capacity and is quite excited to be working again since the orthosis will play a major role in his new job. He shared that while using the wheelchair for mobility, he kept himself active by being heavily involved in sports, particularly in 5k and 10k races that are hosted around the country, along with other athletic activities. Isurdeen said that his wife and his nine-year-old son remain his source of support and motivation.

“I want others who might have been injured, to be able to join this programme and be more improved than I am,” Isrudeen said.

Delicia Haynes.

Images: Disability and Rehabilitation Services, Ministry of Public Health.

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