The dream of the young Palestinian Alaa Al-Dali of participating in international championships with his country’s cycling team has not vanished yet, despite the amputation of his leg months ago after being hit by an Israeli bullet during peaceful marches near the Gaza border.
His hopes were renewed after having a prosthetic leg with the help of Gaza’s sole artificial limbs centre, putting an end to his fears that his career as a professional cyclist would end and granting him a fresh start.
The administration of the centre, which is under the supervision of the municipality of Gaza, said that the prosthetic limbs provided by the health care facility are of high quality and are not different from other prostheses used internationally.
However, the centre is in desperate need of financial support, given the high costs of prostheses, which are offered free of charge to the injured people.
The story of the 21-year-old cyclist Al-Dali, a member of the Palestine Cycling Team, began when he participated in the peaceful Return Marches near the eastern border of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, to demand the return of Palestinian refugees and lifting the siege on Gaza.
Al-Dali told the correspondent of Anadolu Agency: “I participated in the peaceful marches to claim our rights and our lands that were taken from us. During the march, an exploding bullet hit my right leg which necessitated its amputation.
After finishing my medical treatment at the hospital, the Gaza municipality’s artificial limbs centre contacted me
Al-Dali began visiting the centre in Gaza, where he received psychological treatment at first, before undergoing physical therapy for five months to rehabilitate his body to receive the prosthesis.
After the end of the physiotherapy, an artificial leg was designed to fit Al-Dali, and then he returned to physiotherapy for several weeks to be able to use the prosthetic leg with ease.
While performing one of the exercises that help him use the artificial leg easily in the physiotherapy department, inside the centre, the Palestinian athlete confirmed: “I feel so much better now. I don’t use the walking canes, which traumatised me psychologically, anymore. I regained my strength, and I am in good shape. I will return to cycling.”
The artificial leg, which gave Al-Dali the hope to begin a new life along with dozens of other patients of the crowded departments of the centre, is not imported from outside the Gaza Strip. It is instead manufactured by technicians in a factory located in the centre’s basement.
Nabil Farah, Head of the Artificial Limbs Department at the centre indicated that “all prostheses are locally manufactured. We have a professional team of technicians in this field who design artificial limbs that are not different from other ones produced internationally.”
In his interview with the Anadolu Agency, Farah noted that the process of manufacturing the prostheses starts with obtaining the measurements of the patient’s injured part, and based on these measurements, a plaster mould is made for the artificial limb.
At a later stage, the raw material from which the prosthesis is made is poured into the plaster mould. Afterwards, the plaster is liquidated, and the limb becomes initially ready.
According to Farah, the new prosthesis is tested on the patient. Based on this experience, the limb is adjusted to take its final form.
Farah indicated that before using the artificial limb, the patient receives physical therapy for two to three weeks to be able to use the limb without any problems.
However, the services of the sole artificial limbs centre in Gaza might be completely interrupted due to a severe financial crisis, in addition to the increasing number of patients seeking help as a result of Israel’s continuous attacks on the Return Marches, which have been ongoing since the end of last March.