The men behind the bladed feet

Trevor Brauckmann's friend lost one of his legs during the bush war in the eighties. While his friend was fighting the battle of his life in his hospital bed, Trevor wondered if it would be possible to replace the missing leg.

After he had completed his military service, Trevor enrolled for the National Diploma in Orthotics and Prosthetics, which was conferred on him in 1989. He started working right away, and today he is a partner in the very same company he joined at that time.

Any job has its pros and cons, but Trevor loves manufacturing prostheses for patients. "Let's be honest, one can never play God and replace a limb completely. You can, however, restore some quality to people's lives - whether they are 18 months old and born with a defective leg, arm or hand, or whether they are 80 years old and have lost a limb due to diabetes or an accident," says Trevor in his consulting rooms at Hendricks and Brauckmann, Unitas Hospital.

Trevor delivers an excellent service to those in need, both locally and abroad. He treats all patients the same - whether they are rich, famous, poor or unknown. “It is important to me to provide all my patients with a consistent, excellent service. The one thing I want to give back to all of them is joy in life and the sense of normality they get by doing everyday things for themselves again,” says Trevor.

When patients see him for the first time, tears, aggression and joy often all erupt at the same session. “They want to blame somebody for an accident or illness that caused them to lose a limb. But, after I have spent some time with them, explaining the road ahead and doing some basic psychological treatment, they start seeing things in a different light. Believe me, nothing is more rewarding than, after spending a great deal of time on manufacturing a prosthesis and after weeks of rehabilitation, seeing a patient leave my rooms on a pair of new legs instead of in a wheelchair,” he explains. (Picture: Oskar Pistorius and Trevor Braukmann confer over his new leg. The two have become firm friends over the years.)

One of Trevor’s more famous patients, Oscar Pistorius, had South Africa at his bladed feet when he broke a number of records at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Greece. Oscar has been a regular visitor to Hendricks and Brauckmann since he was a small boy, and he has been Trevor’s patient for the past three years.

“His successes in Athens made me realise that he has the power to transform people’s perceptions about artificial limbs. He is no longer the guy with the “wooden leg” - rather a world-class athlete who showed the world that nothing is impossible and that even disabled people can win gold medals at an Olympic Games event,” Trevor concludes.

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