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This article was published 21/6/2012 (3048 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Manitoba's population is surging, thanks in part to newcomers.
And in the province's age-old tradition, they're giving each other a helping hand or, in some cases, a leg.
An immigrant prosthetist helped a refugee amputee get back on his feet Thursday with a new prosthetic and a new lease on life.
"This is good," Cyrilo Simpunga said after he tossed his crutch, put his old wooden leg in the garbage, and did a few Tae Bo moves to demonstrate his new-found mobility.
"It's so much fun working with him, you just want to help Cyrilo," said Peter ten Krooden, his certified prosthetist. Simpunga lost his leg in a machete attack in Congo eight years ago. He arrived in Canada in April as a refugee.
If he'd arrived in Canada after June 30, he'd be stuck with his old wood and rubber prosthetic that required a crutch and exhausted him.
At the end of the month, the federal government is cutting the interim federal health program that provides refugees with supplemental services such as prosthetics, prescription drugs and vision care. Ottawa said it expects to save $20 million a year over the next five years.
The federal government has not said how much it expects to lose in income tax and productivity if refugees are unable to work and contribute to society as a result.
Simpunga's new prosthetic cost $10,000 and was a great investment, figures ten Krooden, who immigrated to Canada from South Africa in 2005.
"This guy can do well," ten Krooden said. "This will give him more mobility, more of a future."
Most of the prosthetics he makes are for diabetics who've been sick for a while, have complications and have lost limbs.
Simpunga was healthy and herding cows when he lost his leg to a traumatic machete attack.
"He's fit, he's young -- there's no reason he couldn't do well," said the prosthetist, who works at Anderson's House, a prosthetic and orthotic clinic in Deer Lodge Centre.
The old wood and rubber leg Simpunga was given a year after his leg was hacked off was a poor fit, uncomfortable and required a lot of energy to use, said ten Krooden.
Now Simpunga has a good-fitting socket with state-of-the-art technology, said the expert in prostheses. A silicone liner improves comfort in sensitive areas and helps with suspension. The carbon-fibre foot, which stores energy, reduces fatigue and helps create a smoother, even gait, ten Krooden explained. The foot can adjust to any terrain and reduces pressure on his good leg, side and lower back.
Simpunga also has a torsion adapter that lets the prosthesis rotate. That minimizes the forces and tissue breakdown on his stump and makes for a smoother gait pattern.
On Monday, Simpunga meets with an employment counsellor to talk about his prospects while he works on his English. He needs a job to support himself and pay back the travel costs of getting here -- costs all refugees are required to repay. The new prosthetic will give him a leg up, said ten Krooden.
"This puts him into employment, feeling he's part of society and that he can contribute now. His chances of being employed without a crutch are better -- his hands are free."
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.
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