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Physio Dawn Lockey's role in developing a frame shoe could lead to 'innovation champion' award


Limb reconstruction physiotherapist Dawn Lockey has been shortlisted in the ‘innovation champion’ category of the Bright Ideas in Health Awards 2021.

Dawn, who is based at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Trust, is the only physiotherapist to have reached this stage in her category and could be named overall winner at a virtual ceremony on 25 November.

Having worked in limb reconstruction for 17 years – and ‘still learning’ – Dawn told PhysioUpdate that she was drawn to the field because of the ‘great variety of conditions we treat and the highly specialised nature of the role’.

In her practice, Dawn assesses and manages a broad spectrum of patients – from those in paediatric settings to adult ones. ‘Some of the conditions we see in limb reconstruction include babies born with foot disorders such as congenital talipes equinovarus, and we use the Ponseti method of treatment for the condition.

‘We screen and treat babies for hip dysplasia and children with hip pathology. We treat people with limb deformity and limb length asymmetry using the Ilizarov principles of deformity correction using circular ring fixation, and we also assess and treat patients with an acute achilles tendon rupture.

‘The role also includes service development and assessment of practice and benchmarking with clinical audit and research activity,’ she adds.

The frame shoe has been designed and tried at first prototype stage ... we hope it will make it easier for people to walk and function whilst having a frame on their limb [Dawn Lockey]

Why was Dawn nominated as an ‘innovation champion’?

‘This was due to the development of an innovative idea within limb reconstruction,' she explains. 'Patients wearing an ankle spanning external ring fixator are unable to fit a shoe on their foot due to the mechanics of the frame.

‘The frame shoe has been designed and tried at first prototype stage with some patients and is now being further developed. We hope it will make it easier for people to walk and function whilst having a frame on their limb. This will help them to progress and get better recovery from their trauma.

Dawn encourages physios to get more involved in research

‘I am passionate about my role and research activity and engagement is part of this. It is important to get involved as this is how we evaluate our practice, look at best practice, continue to develop personally and provide patients with the best care. It is also important that we are inclusive and help others to get involved if they need support and guidance in order to do so. 

'We are currently working with the research design service in North East and North Cumbria in forming a research proposal to look at assessment of patients with acute achilles tendon and I act as research champion for musculoskeletal physiotherapy in the North East and North Cumbria regions.  

And why should physiotherapists enter awards like this one?

‘It is important for physios to enter as this tells other people what we are doing, hopefully spreading news of advances in practice and ideas for research opportunity and engagement,' Dawn stresses.

How can students or recent graduates find out more about career opportunities in limb reconstruction?

'Students and recent graduates should look for placements with us; we have students from local universities who pass through the service. Going forward, it would be great to get students involved in the service through their dissertation work, perhaps working together on research projects and developing ideas together.

'The rewards from working in limb reconstruction include huge job satisfaction, from seeing a child walk and live with a fully functional foot after treatment with the Ponseti method to a patient who has a limb deformity which has been corrected, allowing them to live a normal life.'

Dawn adds: 'Trying to be innovative and engaging in research opportunities should be something we all consider. It is very rewarding when you see your innovative idea may ultimately help the patients you see.'

The 'innovation champion' is one of 10 categories in the Bright Ideas in Health Awards, which are now in their 17th year. The awards recognise the achievements of individuals and teams working in the NHS, industry and academia – either through a technical innovation or better service delivery.

The winners of the 10 categories will receive a cash prize and support from regional innovation experts to develop their ideas.

Nicola Hutchinson is the chief executive officer for the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, which organises the awards. Dr Hutchinson said: ‘We have some incredible finalists this year who are all worthy of recognition and celebration – and we will do just that at the awards ceremony on 25 November.’

The awards are sponsored by North East & North Cumbria Integrated Care System. For more information, visit: https://ahsn-nenc.org.uk/bright-ideas-in-health-awards-shortlist-revealed

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