HEALTH: Super gran demonstrates the power of resilience and staff awards all round

Avid Parkrunner, Dorothy Woodger, hits the road yet again.

By Lucy Ashton

A 72-year-old grandmother who suffers from degenerative hand and foot conditions has been able to drastically slow the progress of the illnesses thanks to a diligent therapy regime and maintaining an active lifestyle.

Dorothy Woodger of Blanefield suffers from both Dupuytren contracture and Ledderhose disease which causes involuntary and permanent curling of the fingers and toes and gets progressively worse with age.

While many with the Dupuytren contracture opt for surgery which can be invasive and carries risk, instead Dorothy has been working with a Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH) occupational therapist (OT) since 2020 and has been one of the few patients not only to avoid an operation but also see an improvement in the condition.

A strict regime which involves regular hand exercises and the use of innovative splints worn and night and engineered by occupational therapist, Elaine Stewart, has enabled Dorothy to continue living a normal life. Such has been the success of the treatment that Dorothy is often the case study of student OT classes demonstrating the positive impact therapy can have on the quality of life.

Avid runner Dorothy also believes putting regular miles in has helped halt the progression of her Ledderhose disease which would otherwise prevent her from walking or exercising normally. Despite being diagnosed in the 1980s, Dorothy, who has run over 150 park runs and is currently a jog leader for the Jog Scotland programme, has not seen any decrease in motion and helped ensure her feet remain flexible over the years.

Dorothy, who lives with husband Bill and has a daughter Sharon and grandson Douglas, said: “I play golf, I crochet and I run regularly. I wouldn’t be able to do any of those things without following Elaine’s OT, putting on the special splints at night and ensuring I keep up my running.

“Despite the therapy, it can still be difficult for me to grip some things but if I don’t keep it up, my hands will curl up completely. However, having worked with the team at the QEUH I’ve been able to continue doing the things I love so far without the risk of surgery. I have more or less full range of motion which is hugely important to me so I’m extremely grateful to Elaine who has been with me for more than three years now.”

Occupational Therapist, Elaine Stewart, puts Dorothy’s progress down to her own resilience and active lifestyle. Elaine said:  “We can provide all the OT advice in the world but our patients need to stick to the plans we develop in order to progress and Dorothy is a shining example of this in action – many people of her age with her condition would have expected to have undergone surgery by now.

“She has been a fantastic patient throughout – remaining upbeat and an inspiration to others.”

Dorothy, who has also recently received a total hip replacement, remains an inspiration to those around her, helping introduce people to running and leading groups of couch to 5k competitors who may not otherwise be doing any exercise.  She concluded: “You only get one shot at life, which is why I keep going with the physio and the running. I love being able to help other people become more active and that really drives me. If I can do it, so can you.”

Meanwhile, staff from across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have been recognised and celebrated at the annual South Sector awards which covers the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH), Gartnavel General and the New Victoria ACH. 

Individuals and teams were awarded for their contribution to the health service over the past 12 months, with categories focusing on areas such as innovation, quality improvement, best practice and the provision of high-quality person-centred care.

The Board’s Flow Navigation Centre which operates the virtual A&E service was recognised as team of the year. Thanks to the hard work of the FNC, more than 36,000 patients have used the service, with more than 80% opting for a video consultation as part of their care package. The digital-first approach has helped ensure patients get the best care in as short a time as possible.

Orthopaedic assistant practitioner, Martin Simpson took home Employee of the Year thanks to his compassionate approach to care and impressive patient feedback, while Occupation Therapist, Lynsey Warner, scooped the Leader of the Year. Lynsey has been instrumental in developing the Major Trauma service and ensuring the rehabilitation journey every patient receives is to the highest standard.

The innovation award went to the Emergency Department Research and Innovation Team for the various local initiatives they have led on locally, regionally and nationally which has helped see the department become a leading centre in research and innovation. 

Arwel Williams, Director for the South, said: “It’s amazing to see our staff from across services continue to innovate, show best practice and deliver excellent care for our patients every day, despite the wider ongoing pressures facing the health service.

“Our staff drive the health service – they represent the organisation and it’s their work which has the biggest impact on patients at the end of the day. It’s reassuring through the awards and through the work which I see every day, the dedication and the passion shown by staff which is helping improve patient outcomes and improve the service in the South. A huge congratulations to all of the entrants to this year’s event.”

Pictured: Ed Pool is a Flow Navigation Centre lead

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