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Strength With Koalaa: A parent’s view

Meet Amy and her six-year-old daughter Hero, who has a congenital elbow limb difference. 

Hero and her mum Amy

We spoke to Amy to find out more about the inspiration behind the "Strength With Koalaa" programme and how it has benefited Hero’s confidence in using her Koalaa sleeve.


 
Why were you interested in working with Christiaan?

I first met Christiaan in my role as head of Project Limitless and all things kids at Koalaa. 

One of our families had received a new Koalaa arm for their child, and while they were in London they hired Christiaan to support their son as he got used to his new prosthetic.


After the five physio sessions they had, their son’s confidence with his Koalaa sleeve was through the roof! He’d worked through any worries, insecurities and any moments where things didn’t feel “quite right” and, by the time he went home with his prosthetic, he was ready to hit the ground running! 

Hero and Christiaan whilst filming Strength With Koalaa

I immediately wanted to capture their son’s success with his sleeve; I wanted to find a way that other Koalaa users – including my daughter – could benefit from that same sense of confidence and empowerment.


I wanted to find a way that children and adult prosthetic users could not only have a smoother and more positive experience getting used to their new prosthetic but could also ensure that they had the best posture and balance throughout their body, helping them to avoid developing injuries in the future. 


Wouldn’t it be fantastic, I thought, if we could somehow “bottle-up” the programme Christiaan created, so all our users could benefit from the expertise of a physiotherapist to improve their confidence and wellbeing and to avoid developing issues and injuries in the future. 


 
What concerns did you have about your daughter Hero before? 

We noticed from very early on that Hero didn’t seem to use her little hand in the same way as her full hand. As a baby, she wouldn’t reach out with her little hand as much and often kept it tucked in at her side. While she uses it a lot more now, it’s still often tucked in at her side when she’s concentrating on something. I’ve always been concerned that an inevitable consequence of this would be unbalanced posture and more strain being placed on her left side. 


Also, when she was doing gymnastics, she would perform handstands and vault jumps without a prosthetic, and you could see how uneven her shoulders were. If I could find a way to help her to engage both sides of her body as equally as possible – before she developed any issues with muscles and posture – then I would jump at the chance. 


I didn’t want to wait for her to develop issues down the road and hoped to find a way to tackle it head on. 


I hoped that taking part in the "Strength With Koalaa" programme would give both me and Hero a better understanding of how muscles and the body work and to give us ways we could improve her posture. My goal was to hopefully help her to avoid developing any injuries or pains later in life, as a result of her limb difference. 


 
What benefits have you seen?

After following the programme and trying out some of the activities that Christiaan suggested, Hero’s confidence and comfort in the use of her Koalaa ALX went up massively. 


Hero and Christiaan filming "Strength With Koalaa"

Before, when something hadn’t worked quite right, or didn’t feel quite right, then Hero would immediately assume that the sleeve wasn’t working. However, after taking part in the programme and activities we learnt that a lot of the time the moments where things didn’t feel quite right turned out to be totally fixable, by engaging different muscles here and building up some more strength there. 


A greater confidence and enjoyment in using her sleeve has allowed her to try it out in a wider variety of situations and led to an all-round improvement in her posture and balance. 

When she’s doing handstands now, you can see her shoulders are balanced and I’m hopeful that she’s less likely to develop any musculoskeletal issues in the future. 


 
How important was the 'fun' element?


With a slightly hyper six-year-old who’s attention can be drawn away easily, especially from anything that feels like a ‘chore’, the fun element to the Strength With Koalaa programme is just brilliant! Children of any age, but especially young ones, aren’t likely to engage with a series of workout exercises. But kicking a soft toy around the room and racing their friends and family is all good! 


 

What did Hero think about it all?

Hero had an absolute blast doing the activities with Christiaan! Most of the time she didn’t even realise the exercises were anything other than a game!


She also enjoyed watching Nicole working through the exercises and couldn’t wait to have her turn putting her Koalaa ALX through its paces!

Hero and Nicole wearing their Koalaa prosthetic arms

 

You can find the full "Strength With Koalaa" series here.


Click here to find out more about the "Strength With Koalaa" programme or email us, we'd love to chat! hi@yourkoalaa.com 


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