Wellington Prosthetist/Orthotist Relishes Role
Peke Waihanga Wellington clinical prosthetist/orthotist Jamie Villalon embodies the curiosity and drive to make sense of the world that is at the heart of science and technology. Saturday, February 11 was International Day of Women and Girls in Science, and Jamie is one of many of our women staff members who use science thinking and innovation on a daily basis to achieve better lives for our patients.
Living with her family in Sydney as a 17-years-old high school student, Jamie underwent a below knee amputation. She says her first leg was made by a “very kind man” who gave her a tour of the workshop where her limb was made. She liked what she saw, particularly the idea of using her hands and talking with and helping other people. She thought “I could do that” and enrolled to undertake a Masters in Prosthetics and Orthotics at La Trobe University in Melbourne in 2015.
The first few years of her applied science degree was generalised, during which she learned about anatomy and physiology of the body. This helped her to understand and accept the reasons for her own amputation.
Before taking on the role in Wellington she worked as a graduate for a private prosthetics company but after two years of COVID-19 lockdowns, she was ready for a move. During her degree she had met her now Wellington colleague Travis Fraser who encouraged her to apply for the role at Peke Waihanga and make the move to New Zealand in March 2022.
She enjoys working for Peke Waihanga – particularly being part of a multi-disciplinary team within the centre. “Our team is very solid and supportive. If you ask for help, people will be there to help. Physios, technicians, service coordinators, everyone” she says.
“Working in a multi-disciplinary team is invaluable because the success of a prosthesis is more than just having a prosthesis that fits and functions well. I’ve loved being able to bounce ideas off other people in the team and be involved in more aspects of a patient’s journey.”
Jamie enjoys the way people are encouraged to innovate in Peke Waihanga.
“It’s important to be up to date with new technology and products and know when to give it a go. I’ve loved the way new tech is embraced in Peke Waihanga. We’re encouraged to try it out, figure out how to make it work for the patient and then emulate that learning and use it again for the benefit of others,” she says.