A former soldier who witnessed the effects of landmine injuries on the people of Afghanistan is majoring in Prosthetics and Orthotics at USC to forge a new career helping amputees.
Lynden Harbour, 30, of Kallangur north of Brisbane, is in his third and final year of a USC Bachelor of Health Science with an extended major in Prosthetics and Orthotics.
It is the only such specialisation for undergraduate students in Queensland and recently received accreditation from the Australian Orthotic Prosthetic Association.
“I love this degree,” said Lynden, who worked in artillery with the Australian Army for four years until 2011, including a tour of Afghanistan.
“I started studying Nutrition and Dietetics at USC in 2017 after a few years working in pathology collection and remedial massage, but when this became available, I was drawn to it.
“Prosthetics is replicating a missing body part and orthotics is applying something outside of the body to provide function to the body, and I get great satisfaction from the practical elements and client interaction in the degree.
“As part of assessment, we make test devices for clients, from casting to manufacture to fitting. We can see our skills develop and benefit people in a meaningful way.”
Lynden said he and fellow students had interacted with patients with nerve injuries, cerebral palsy, strokes, paralysis and neurological conditions.
“Last year a group of us made a prosthetic socket for a lady in her 80s with a below-knee amputation,” he said. “It was a daunting task. The highlight was working to make sure it fit properly to improve her quality of life.”
While pandemic restrictions such as social distancing have temporarily changed Lynden’s methods of studying and interacting, he is focused on completing his degree and launching his career.
“I joined the Army at 17 after leaving Year 10 at high school in Bendigo,” he said. “Touring Afghanistan opened my eyes to the effects of previous armed conflicts on civilian populations, including injuries caused by leftover landmines.
“I want to help people affected by wars. My ultimate goal is to work in developing countries for non-government organisations that provide healthcare and rehabilitation for civilians.”
USC Lecturer in Prosthetics and Orthotics Adam Holden said the extended major suited people who were creatively or technically minded and enjoyed working with people.
“It provides students with specialist training in an increasingly high-tech area of health,” he said.
“This includes client assessment, treatment plan provision, and design and manufacture of devices to address the functional limitations of people with illness, disease or disability.”
Applications are expected to open in August for USC’s 2021 intake.