Ottobock joins GC2018 – Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018

From the snow to the sand, Ottobock has para athletes covered in 2018

Just a month after the Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Ottobock opened its specialist para-sports workshop yet again – this time some 7,000 kilometers to the south, to support para-athletes ahead of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games (GC2018).

Ottobock is the longest serving partner of the Paralympic Games (since Seoul 1988), and a passionate supporter of the Para-Sports movement. GC2018 had the largest integrated para-sports program for any major event of its kind, which saw up to 300 para-athletes compete in 38 medal events across seven para-sports. The integrated nature of the para-sports component of the Commonwealth Games is the perfect reflection of Ottobock’s long held belief that encouraging participation in sporting activities can be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for those with mobility challenges, and the perfect reason for Ottobock to partner with GC2018.

Six months of planning, 10 tonne’s of equipment, 2 specially modified shipping containers, 10,000 spare parts, 100 square meters of workshop space and approximately 40 volunteers from across Australia and New Zealand worked for a period of 1 month at the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village, so competitors and team officials could concentrate on their events, and not worry about the reliability of their mobility devices.

Ten lucky Prosthetic and Orthotic Clinicians were chosen at random from a pool of nearly 100 applicants, and were challenged to find solutions to problems they would never encounter in daily practice. Whether it be changing the front castors of a competitor’s day use wheelchair, making a KAFO or extension prosthesis from scratch, making custom fracture bracing or even fixing an athletes camera and luggage, the lucky few were put to the test. Over the four weeks of onsite operations, over 200 repairs were completed, and all technicians involved learned more about our industry than ever before.

You may have seen Papua New Guinea’s flag bearer wearing her new prosthesis made by the technicians in Ottobock workshop as she competed in the Table Tennis, or the Kenyan Powerlifter with her new KAFO. Both remarkable stories from remarkable people that will stay with the team of volunteers for many years to come.

Vero from Papua New Guinea was born with Femoral Hemimelia, and spent most of her life without a prosthesis, because she couldn’t afford to buy one. Vero saved for over 3 years, and sold every single possession she owned to pay for a prosthesis so she could compete in para-sports for the first time. When she presented at the Ottobock workshop in the Athletes Village, her prosthesis was so poorly fitting and rotten, that technicians had no choice but to fabricate a completely new device in just over 24hrs so she could compete in her event.

Hellen from Kenya suffered from a polio like infection in her youth, and had lost most control of lower extremities. Hellen presented at the Ottobock workshop requesting a repair to her KAFO, and when an assessment of the device was completed, it was clear that the KAFO was over 10 years old, and wasn’t made for her in the first place. The leather was torn and mouldy, the knee joints were half way up her calf, and the thigh shell simply didn’t fit. Hellen explained that she couldn’t afford to have a KAFO made for herself, so she was given an old and unserviceable device from someone else, and she had been using it for many years. The technicians at the Ottobock workshop knew they couldn’t allow Hellen to continue using this unsafe device, so they fabricated a new device for her in just a couple of days.

These are just a couple of examples of the work completed by the volunteer technicians at the Ottobock Workshop at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The Ottobock Workshop quickly became a regular stop on tours of the Athletes Village, and we were honored to meet His Royal Highness Prince Charles, The Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Edward, Malcolm Turnbull, Peter Beattie in addition of many of the stars of the Australian Commonwealth Games team including Kurt Fernly, Ellie Cole and Chef De Mission Steve Monaghetti.

Ottobock Australia would like to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who offered their time and support to allow this amazing service to operate in the professional manner it was. Without your expertise, enthusiasm and positive attitude we could not deliver such a remarkable completely free of charge service to the athletes involved.