Norbert Kang & Alex Woollard
In 2018 Alex Woollard and Norbert Kang founded Relimb to provide a complete reconstructive service to treat amputees. This builds on their combined experience in nerve regeneration and osseointegration.
In April 2018 the team travelled to Baghdad, Iraq, as part of Professor Al Muderis’s humanitarian mission to complete a fellowship in osseointegration. They have built close ties with Professor Al Muderis and his Osseointegration Group of Australia (OGAP) which has allowed them to bring this novel technique back to the UK. Outside of a military trial they are the only group in the UK able to offer this treatment. Relimb returned to Baghdad in April 2019 with OGAP to continue providing care to the victims of the ongoing conflict in the region.
Osseointegration involves the implantation of a bone anchored implant directly into an amputee stump that exits through the skin to allow a prothesis to be directly connected to the bone without the need for a conventional socket. This obviates the need for a skin-socket interface with all the problems in skin abrasion that comes with that. It also has the great advantage of providing osseoperception, allowing the wearer to directly feel the quality of the ground they are walking on. Users have described this as a “life-changing moment”.
In addition to osseointegrated implants for amputees, the Relimb team use this technology to fit other prostheses from ears to eyes and noses through the use of bone anchored percutaneous implants.
Alex did his PhD research in nerve regeneration at the Centre for Brain Science at Harvard University under Professor Jeff Lichtman. In addition to the bony reconstructive options Relimb are able to perform both targeted muscle rein nervation (TMR) and regenerative peripheral nerve interface (RPNI) surgery to ‘rewire’ amputee stumps. These techniques can be used to improve the control of myoelectric prostheses but also, crucially, to address both neuroma and phantom limb pain (PLP).
The Relimb team works closely with the rehabilitation teams both within the NHS (Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton) and in the private sector (Dorset Orthopaedic, PACE, etc). We are able to address some of the other key issues that affect amputees such as folliculitis, heterotopic ossification, bursa problems, and skin envelope issues.
Please see the Relimb website for more detailed discussion of all aspects of amputee reconstruction. The Relimb team are happy to see you in clinic to review your particular needs. In addition there is a dedicated OI, TMR and RPNI clinic run on a monthly basis via our Hadley Wood Clinic. Please contact Karolina for further details.