18 Sep

Steeper Prosthetist Tim Howarth

Steeper Prosthetist Tim Howarth Steeper Prosthetist Tim Howarth
The story
Working as an engineer for a large car manufacturer, Tim enjoyed the technical aspects of his role but found the job to be less fulfilling than he’d hoped. After a review and discussion with a career advisor, Tim realised his passion was for helping people, not fine-tuning automobile parts; “I had a bit of a lightbulb moment and realised I wanted to help others, however as an engineer I wasn’t sure my skills would translate. After more deliberation and research, I found that I could combine healthcare and engineering by looking at the biomechanical structure of the body; looking into courses I embarked on re-training and a new career as a prosthetist.”

Tim studied Orthotics and Prosthetics as a mature student, graduating from Salford University in 2008 and honed his skills as a prosthetist in Wolverhampton; before joining Steeper Group at Aintree University Hospital nearly three years ago.

The solution
Working from our Liverpool branch, Tim is part of a close knit team; all have their own individual skills to ensure a service which specialise in more complex socket design and provision. Tim’s place within the team is as a specialist with microprocessor knees (MPKs), such as the Plié 3, as he has a keen knowledge of prosthetic programming software.

When it comes to patient care Tim likes to build trust with his patients “Patients have to have confidence a prosthetist’s knowledge, it’s a massive decision prescribing to an individual patient, as there are so many devices on the market. It’s vital to build an understanding of what each individual wants to achieve that is also realistic within a given time frame - amputations happen for very different reasons and all patients want to live their life the way they want to. It’s my job to listen, understand and explain what the possibilities are and ensure the patient leaves with the most appropriate and comfortable prostheses to achieve their goals.”
Tim is also a member of the Steeper Clinical Support Group (CSG), who evaluate the latest devices to ensure
each product added to the Steeper product portfolio is of benefit to the end user and is cost effective for NHS centres. Tim explains “As prosthetic devices are developed to overcome specific challenges, it’s vital that we assess them in conjunction with users and the clinical attributes to recommend them to other prosthetists and patients. It’s great being part of the CSG as I get to see the latest prosthetic products and I am always thinking about how they could benefit my patients.”

The turning point
Tim has developed his skills within prosthetics further since joining Steeper Group, taking on many complex cases and challenging prescriptions. The Liverpool team specialise in providing solutions for challenging socket requirements. Tim also passes his skills and knowledge on to the next generation of prosthetists as Aintree is a training centre for Salford Prosthetic and Orthotic students.

“A recent turning point for a slender bilateral patient was two new limb builds where as a team we created new sockets, added lightweight components and a free swing knee to the patient’s existing feet to save over 5kg in weight. This has made a huge difference to this individual and they are now able to move around far more freely, keeping things lightweight and simple and by working together; patient, prosthetist and technicians we’ve delivered something fantastic.”

“Watching a patient take their first step on a new prosthesis when they weren’t convinced they’d get out of a wheelchair is exciting, and not just for the patient; as the prosthetist knowing you’ve built the right socket, prescribed the best limb build for the individual and that you’ve made a difference in someone’s life is far better than assembling any car!”

To find out more about a career as a prosthetist, visit www.steepergroup.com