Orthopedic specialist brings hope to 400 disabled quake survivors in 10 years

Updated 2018-05-11 09:42:07

Ten years have gone by since the devastating earthquake in southwest China's Sichuan Province, and Zou Youce, who hails from northeast China's Liaoning Province, never imagined that he would play a role in the disaster.[Special coverage]

Zou didn't participate in the rescue operation when the quake happened, but he has helped more than 400 disabled survivors to stand up in the past 10 years.

He is an orthopedic specialist from the Sichuan-Hong Kong Rehabilitation Center of Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital responsible for installation and replacement of artificial limbs for amputees.

"Amputees face a lifelong problem," Zou said. "Over time, as their residual limb inevitably changes shape, their prosthetic socket no longer fits. Without adjustments to the socket, the device becomes nearly useless."

What he has been doing is to create a more exact fit for patients.

Many of those injured during the earthquake were young and underage. They have to "swap out" their artificial limbs at regular intervals because they're still growing, according to Zou.

When Zou first arrived in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, in November 2008, there were only two other specialists at the center. However, 60 people were in urgent need of prosthetics. He worked overtime and made 45 prostheses in two months.

"Every night, when I walked outside the hallway of the ward, I could hear the crying. Some of the amputees had severe phantom limb pain, believing their amputated arms or feet were still there," Zou recalled.

The recovery process is longer than people imagine, physically, psychologically. Wang Rui, a patient who was reluctant to install artificial limbs, was just 15 years old when she was struck by a collapsed house and cut her right leg.

With the help of Zou, she learned to overcome pain and adjust herself to the prostheses. Wang became a table tennis player later and won gold medals in the Asian Championships for the Disabled.

Another patient of Zou, Zheng Haiyang, established an app providing comprehensive services for users who need assistive technology, including prosthetics, devices like wheelchairs, rehabilitation plans and offline support events.

"I was engaged in a life-carving career. Plaster casts the dimension of life in my hands. It is placed on the respect for life, the care for the disabled and the praise for the beauty of humanity. I would like to be the fulcrum of their life. Let the 'winged angel' fly again," Zou said.

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