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Interview with Katie Leatherwood on Mission Ukraine Mission

Earlier this year, PVA Med had the privilege of connecting with Katie Leatherwood, a devoted prosthetist committed to extending her expertise to areas in dire need across the globe. Settling in Latvia, she identified a profound need to aid Ukrainians impacted by the ongoing conflict through Mission Ukraine. In June, we donated a printer, and recently, we sought an update on how PVA Med and the printer have transformed her practice and the lives of countless Ukrainians.

*This interview has been edited for clarity.

What does a typical day look like at Mission Ukraine?

A typical day depends on the patients we are currently working on. Our day starts with a planning meeting with the Designed to Live team, a time of prayer and reading the Bible. With previous patients, we worked on them as they came to Latvia. Our new plan going forward is to bring in groups of people (5-10 people) and do the prosthetic fitting process together in a more systematic way.

Basically, this means we do evaluations and make plans with the patient (in addition to the plan we made prior to their arriving in Latvia through our video consultations). Then we begin the process of taking scans (or impressions) and additional measurements. After that, I begin my design process on the computer while Davyd begins preparing the printer for printing. If we have a socket ready, we connect all distal components and begin testing the socket and alignment.

The best days are the ”first steps” days and the delivery day of the final prosthetic!

What made you interested in implementing 3D Printing at Mission Ukraine? What did you think it would bring to your mission?

I finally decided to implement 3D printing into the work of Designed to Live when we established the project Mission Ukraine. The two main factors that pushed me over were having a 3D-printed socket in my hand to touch and see the quality. Also, to have colleagues already active in 3D printing to assist, guide, and mentor me in the transition process. The main factor I hoped 3D printing would bring to us was the follow-up care component and providing a more efficient workflow with our small team.

Can you describe the care process from beginning to end (for a patient utilizing the Emergence PRO 3D Printer)?

First, we’ll perform and evaluation assessment of the patient including skin status, ROM, MMT, goals, medical history, etc. We’ll review the patient history and connect with the patient in a personal way. Next, we’ll determine the design and components of the prosthetic based on patient, limb, goals, and other medical considerations. We will also inform the patient of the plan and what the process will be.

After this, we scan the limb, take additional measurements, or hand cast with gyps if needed to capture the anatomy in a better way than a scan can (AK Sockets). During this, we will mark alignment and bony prominences. If a hand cast is taken, we scan the gyps mold.

Next begins the modification and design process of the digital mold to create the prosthetic test socket. We prep the scanner, load filament, and send the G-code to the printer. While the socket is printing, we have a coffee and watch socket print 🙂 When the socket is finished, we will trim the socket and attach components.

Finally, it’s time to take the first steps!

What benefits have you experienced with the Emergence PRO versus traditional fabrication?

  • More efficient workflow
  • A more precise design process
  • History of modifications and changes made to mold
  • Easy adjustments and re-printing when new socket is needed
  • Cleaner and less energy work
  • Safer for employees

What impact has the Emergence PRO 3D Printer had on patients in Ukraine?

Only used as a test socket! We have had a few failures when sent out of office for longer trials allowing us to quickly fit patients. We can do all the fitting processes while they wait.

The Emergence PRO 3D Printer has made follow up and remote care easy. When the final socket needs to be replaced due to volume change, we can easily make changes in the computer and reprint the modified test socket without the need for the patient to return to Latvia. We have sent modified test sockets with my technician to Ukraine to fit the patient and later printed the final socket based on the fitting of the test socket.

What was your training and implementation experience like with PVA Med?

PVA Med was very helpful in ensuring I understood the initial setup and operation of the printer. Any questions I have had, they have been very prompt and attentive to helping me solve. Without the support of PVA Med and other 3D printing colleagues, this would not have been an easy and quick transition. Thank you!