UG student, Melroy Pyle gets mechanical arms
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Double amputee, Melroy Pyle tries out his new limb
as Cynthia Massay, Director of the Ptolemy Reid
Rehabilitation Centre, and Clinical Prosthetist/Orthotist,
Jon Batzdorff look on (Adrian Narine photo)
Double amputee, Melroy Pyle tries out his new limb as Cynthia Massay, Director of the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre, and Clinical Prosthetist/Orthotist, Jon Batzdorff look on (Adrian Narine photo)

– a first for Guyana

LAST week may have been one of the best weeks Melroy Pyle has experienced since a horrific accident left him without both hands late last year.

The 37-year-old father of four was the recipient of a new pair of mechanical arms, thanks to the generosity of renowned Clinical Prosthetist/Orthotist, Jon Batzdorff , Director of the California-based non-profit organization, Prosthetika.

Double-amputee Melroy Pyle shows off his
dexterity with new his arms (Adrian Narine photo)

The donation was made possible through the National Orthotic and Prosthetic Appliance Workshop at the Ptolemy Reid’s Rehabilitation Centre. It is also said to be the first time in Guyana that a patient is able to utlise the use of the arms fitted with the mechanical support.

Batzdorff led a team to Guyana last week, which included British traveller David Nicholas , Ian Carrick of RSF International Inc of Canada and England-based Laura Burgess, Clinical Specialist Physiotherapist . The team met with staff of the centre as well as patients undergoing rehabilitation there. It was there that the team encountered Pyle for the first time last Monday.

Cynthia Massay, director of the centre , told the Guyana Chronicle that Pyle has been receiving support from the centre since an accident last December left him amputated from the elbows down. According to her, the donation came as a total surprise since the visitors “actually bring along equipment to help him on the spot.”

Within a day of Pyle being fitted with the mechanical arm, the young man was signing his name, drinking water from bottles, even playing around with a cricket ball at the centre.”It was the most amazing thing,” Massay said.

The arms work with a “tension mechanism “, Batzdorff told the Guyana Chronicle on Friday as the team prepared to wrap-up their visit here. He explained that the arms are fitted with cables connected to straps which are placed on the patient’s back. Once the straps connect to the back, the muscles contract and the tension enables the patient to move the mechanical fingers as well as the arm.

While recounting the accident, Pyle noted that he was left amputated from the elbows down. He said that there was nothing much the doctors could have done to save his hands, a situation which devastated the Cove and John, East Coast Demerara resident.

He said that he studies civil engineering at the University of Guyana and according to him, he was in the middle of the exam’s period last December when tragedy struck. The upbeat Pyle said that on December 18th, 2017, he sat a chemistry exam and around midday he prepared to go to work at a building where a contractor was undertaking works a stone’s throw away from Pyle’s classroom on the Turkeyen Campus.

He said that he took the job as a means to sustain himself and family of five and he noted that it fitted well with the degree which he is reading for.
Pyle said around 1300hrs on the day in question, the workers were preparing to structure the beams at the building and he recalled seeing a live electrical wire some four feet away from the building. “The steel I was handling came in contact with the wire, 14000 volts, and I just thank God I’m alive”, he said.

He said after her fell down, he could have heard voices. “I could have heard them saying, he alive,” he added, noting that the heat burned off his wrists.
The man said that life has been different for him ever since the accident. “It is a different life because nobody plans to lose a limb. It is something new in your life, you try to work around what happened to you,” the man noted with positive nods. Pyle said he found a way to live with his situation. “Well, I am always positive about everything,” he said.

But things may change for the young man since he can now undertake most tasks on his own. He said after he was fitted with the arms, he was able to visit a Scotiabank location and was able to sign his name in order to undertake a transaction.
Pyle’s wife, who is a teacher and who was also at the university, took time off to attend to him. “With this new hand it is better for all of us because I could do things for myself. I may not be able to do everything but I can do a lot; I can actually hold a bag and walk with it,” he said with a smile.

Badzdorff , who makes artificial limbs and also taught the subject , runs Prosthetika . During an interview with the team, he said that the firm provides training globally to entities which would like to have improvement in their services.”It could be learning new techniques for artificial limbs, learning how to do the prosthetic arms,” he noted.

He said the process starts with a request from an amputee or organization and the California-based entity provides training as well as repairs to prostheses.”So everything we do has to do with training; we don’t just come in and donate something and leave, it has to benefit people,” he said, noting that the organisation’s interest lies in capacity building.

As regards Pyle’s condition, Massay said the doctor mentioned the man’s name during the conversations the centre had with Badzdorff prior to the visitor’s trip here. She said the latter had indicated that to perform on the upper extremity of the amputee would have been time-consuming, given that the team only planned to spend a week in Guyana.

She said that when Badzdorff arrived at the centre, he brought along the two mechanical arms. “It was an amazing moment for all of us; if you saw Melroy’s expression,” she said with a smile.

Pyle said he plans to continue his studies at the University of Guyana and according to the upbeat young man , he never gave up .”I’m always positive about things,” he said in between smiles.

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