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‘Dispelling’ the doubts about doctors with dyslexia

Healers – no matter which way you look at it

There have been numerous famous physicians throughout history and still many more today who are dyslexic, but, one would never know.   This is because they don’t identify themselves as such in the workplace nor did they formally do so in the past.

Medicine is a popular choice of occupation for adult dyslexics who are often gifted

A typical profile of a dyslexic physician involves early troubles in elementary school.  Yet, a number of reasons exist as to why medicine is a popular choice of occupation for adult dyslexics who are often gifted.

Firstly, medicine is a complex domain to master that nevertheless also requires an ability to grasp the big picture, make decisions and execute a plan.

Medicine is often of interest to many dyslexic students

Medicine is based in scientific disciplines which is often of interest to many dyslexic students.  In addition, many dyslexic mind strengths are in sync with the field of medicine, such as spatial reasoning, required by surgeons, cardiologists and radiologists; interdisciplinary thinking – needed for occupations involving dermatology, immunology, epidemiology and ICU; narrative reasoning (think clinical histories, psychology and psychiatry); and dynamic reasoning associated with preventative health, rehabilitation and sports medicine.

While significant challenges exist, dyslexic individuals who pursue a career in medicine are greatly aided by technology.

Case study – Blake Charlton: a dyslexic doctor among many

This case study involves the story of Blake Charlton.  Failing kindergarten was the first of many of his school struggles and difficulties.  He was relegated to remedial classes as a result of being diagnosed with dyslexia.  In spite of this, he barely passed.  Even at the age of 35, reading still posed a challenge and is a self-described ‘crummy’ speller, who manages written communication by relying on the use of abbreviations.  Yet, those who recall his academic difficulties are often surprised at the abbreviation that now follows his name:  M.D.

“For much of high school and college, I didn’t think medical school was a possibility,” says Charlton, who’s now a medical resident at the University of California, San Francisco and an editorial fellow for the American Medical Association journal JAMA Internal Medicine. “I spent a lifetime having to ride the short bus, identifying as someone who needs help.”

Charlton earned entry into Stanford School of Medicine after receiving time accommodations to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).  He maintains that his first-hand awareness of personal deficiencies has help him to evolve into a compassionate physician.

Roger Wolfson – a South African dyslexic orthotics and prosthetics specialist among many

Himself diagnosed with dyslexia, Roger Wolfson has relentlessly pursued a brilliant career in orthotics and prosthetics and is a specialist among many who has made great strides in his chosen field.  Roger states that dyslexics are often known to be lateral thinkers.  A lateral thinker in his own right,  Roger has significantly contributed to his field of orrthotics and prosthetics with patented orthotic innovations such as ‘Backmate’ also known as ‘a friend to lean on’ which is a back/spinal brace designed and developed to aid back pain sufferers who find difficulty sitting in certain positions and the ‘JR OA Off-loader knee brace’ which has been designed to remove knee pain without the need for surgical intervention.

You might also enjoy orthotics and prosthetics – Welcome to Roger Wolfson and Associates

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Articles/Case Studies

The importance of psychological counselling when undergoing an amputation – part 2


The importance of communication between the patient and their loved ones cannot be overemphasized. Each individual will naturally have their own unique concerns that need to be addressed. For example, a child might be afraid that peers will make fun of him because his father is missing an arm.

Or, a wife may be anxious about taking on responsibilities that are normally handled by her husband. Alternatively, she may even be afraid that he will be unable to support the family. Family counselling is an absolute must as a tool in the journey towards adjustment.

The time period following surgery may also pose additional stress and challenges to a relationship that is not doing well. Hence, it also makes sense for those in difficult relationships to seek counselling, preferably prior to surgery.


A tower of strength in peer support

Other amputees can be a tower of strength in peer support and offer invaluable advice and frequently provide comfort around personal issues such as pregnancy and child care.

Pre-surgery counselling enables a healthier emotional and physical recovery process. It helps the patient to feel supported, validated and to know that they have someone as part of their treatment team who they can lean on in respect of ongoing education, support and guidance. A support group is a safe haven where people can share and feel understood and validated.


What your prosthetist can do to help

Some patients may be reluctant to see their prosthetist when things aren’t going too well since they might feel that they are being bothersome or revealing failure. A prosthetist will therefore endeavour to ensure that the patient feels comfortable and will welcome these follow up sessions for any adjustments that may be needed.

It is also common for small problems to become large ones and for such to cause limitations in terms of function and mobility. Hence a prosthetist will endeavour to address such problems before they affect the patient’s quality of life.



Getting patients more involved in their own decision making and getting them excited and asking questions helps the prosthetist to ensure that a person is more empowered.

A prosthetist will recognize when a patient needs outside help

A prosthetist will recognize when a patient needs outside help beyond the scope of the orthotics and prosthetics practice and will refer the patient to other specialists.

Possible underlying mental health concerns

Telltale signs that may indicate that extra help is needed are such things as fatigue, missed appointments, low energy levels, impaired memory, difficulty in comprehending a task and poor hygiene. Such can point to underlying mental health conditions. If the patient voices suicidal thoughts or intentions, immediate action should be taken to assess mental status and take precautionary measures where necessary. However, it needs to be borne in mind that it is normal for people to experience feelings of sadness, denial, fear and anger in their own unique ways and time periods while others will adjust to their amputations with very few psychological problems.

Knowing a good psychologist

Knowing a good psychologist and being able to recognize at what point a patient may need to be referred are important factors a prosthetist will always bear in mind.   Suicidal thoughts would be an obvious reason for referral to a psychologist and a person who may be struggling with body image, problems, anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses would also benefit. Peer support is also an important factor and a good prosthetist will know when to recommend peer support versus seeing a psychologist.

Give Roger a call now on (011) 640 7198 or send an email to



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Articles/Case Studies

The importance of psychological counselling when undergoing an amputation – part 1


The loss of a limb is a life-changing situation. However, every individual is unique and how much a person’s life will change largely depends upon the challenges each individual faces. For most people, it can be like moving into another dimension where even the most ordinary daily activities such as walking, may have to be relearnt all over again.

It is not only the amputee who as affected but to a large extent, everyone connected with him or her such as spouse or partner, children, other family members, friends, employers and co-workers.

The psychological impact of an amputation can be as significant as the physical challenges

More often than not, the psychological impact of an amputation can be just as significant as the physical challenges and the perceived loss of ability to engage in leisure activities can play an important role in post-amputation quality of life than the absence of the limb itself. Amputation can negatively influence body image, self-esteem and quality of life. Returning to work can also be difficult. However, the key to successful outcomes lies in making sure that a patient receives appropriate care in terms of their physical and psychosocial needs.

The use of prosthetics is associated with increased quality of life

The use of prosthetics is associated with higher levels of employment, increased quality of life, decreased phantom limb pain and lower levels of psychiatric symptoms. In addition, using prosthetics has been proven to facilitate a reduction in secondary health issues and a greater degree of functional independence and mobility.

Prosthetists and healthcare teams can do a great deal to bring about a successful, fulfilling life for people with amputations while they adjust to the changes in their lives.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Unlike those who lose limbs due to dysvascular conditions, people with traumatic amputations often suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Fault is often involved with traumatic amputations which causes anger and regret.

The time it takes to heal

One of the main things that people are not prepared for is the reality of the time it takes to heal and what to expect regarding the timeframes for rehabilitation and regaining mobility. Returning to work is influenced by the time it takes to regain mobility.

The number of appointments necessary for medical and prosthetic care, as well as physical or occupational therapy is also dependent on the patient’s own mobility and level of rehabilitation progress. A discussion regarding timeframes is therefore most helpful in reducing anxiety and can help families to plan ahead financially and for periods of absence from work.

An individual with a new amputation often needs to learn new modes of living where it pertains to activities such as cooking, cleaning and bathing. Yet, nothing happens overnight and certain things cannot be planned hence, the key is to recognize that it is all part of the healing process.

Modifications done at home such as the installation of a ramp or the widening of doorways to accommodate a wheelchair may be necessary. For instance, if the bedroom is upstairs, ways need to be found to move around the house easily.


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Articles/Case Studies

3 important questions you should ask prior to undergoing a lower limb amputation

Statistics show that for every 1000 people in South Africa there are approximately 1.5 amputees.

The main reasons behind why and how amputations occur include:

  • Vascular disease which covers diabetes and peripheral arterial diseases
  • Cancer
  • Trauma

In this article we address three important questions you should consider prior to undergoing a lower limb amputation which can be either below the knee (trans tibial) or above the knee (trans femoral).


  • At one point should I consult with a prosthetist?


To ensure optimal prosthetic outcomes, it is critical that you consult with a prosthetist prior to undergoing surgery.

The process begins with an overall evaluation of your mobility and lifestyle expectations as well as an analysis of the various details involved in your condition as well as the nature of the upcoming surgery.

A number of surgeons see this process as invaluable especially in determining whether certain surgical techniques should be used that could enhance desired outcomes post-surgery.

Detailed knowledge and understanding of the specifics involved in your situation greatly assist the prosthetist to fabricate and fit a prosthetic that will work best for you.


  • How do I prepare for the initial prosthesis fitting


The time it takes before a prosthesis can be worn varies from person to person, and can also depend upon the nature of the surgery as well as your own unique circumstances and can even be influenced by surgical techniques such as Immediate Post-Prosthesis (IPOP).

Your surgeon, your prosthetist and your physical therapist all play very important roles in your rehabilitation. Your residual limb is bandaged and treated immediately post-surgery in order for your surgical wound to effectively heal. It is crucial that you follow the recommendations of all professionals involved in your recovery.

Taking the appropriate time to heal and wear compression stockings to decrease the swelling are both key factors in preparing you for your initial prosthesis fitting.


  • What takes place during physical therapy in the prosthesis fitting process?


Post-operative physical therapy ensures that you retain the function of your residual limb and prepare the area for your temporary and then your definitive prosthesis. Physical therapy is important in maintaining and expanding mobility and activity levels during the prosthesis fitting process.


Maintaining a positive mental attitude is vital to successful recovery

The role of maintaining a positive mental attitude cannot be underestimated in successful recovery and it is not uncommon for a patient to discover that they have greater mobility once accustomed to a new prosthesis as opposed to living with an unhealthy limb prior to surgery.


If you would like to know more about what to do prior to undergoing surgery for an amputation or need to ask Roger a question call us on (011) 640 7198 or drop us an email at





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