To patients, Christina Fung is part builder, part artist. She is a prosthetist at the Sunnybrook Centre for Independent Living (SCIL), Holland Musculoskeletal Program.
“Similar to art, it’s about creating something unique that is dynamic and aesthetic,” she says. “In my clinical role, it’s also important to create something that is comfortable and functional that helps the individual be as independent as they can be, and in its design act as a form of their self-expression.”
She and the prosthetics team at SCIL get to know patients beyond the injury or congenital condition, to design and tailor for each patient, artificial limb(s) to help transform lives.
For Christina, the joy of using her creativity to uplift goes beyond her patient interactions.
Outside of her time at the hospital, she is studying art and has contributed her own work to an installation by artist Maziar Ghaderi at this year’s Nuit Blanche. “His installation is about themes of community, of bringing people together and about widening understanding, which relates to how we help amputees at SCIL,” she says.
The interactive installation involves a korsi, or traditional Iranian low table historically used as a gathering place and a place to stay warm, for family and friends during special occasions. Using the artistic flair she adds to creating a prosthesis, Christina volunteered her time to make a three-foot tall, pomegranate that is symbolic of Iranian culture. It sits at the centre of the korsi.
“I have learned a lot from patients through their perseverance and courage, and about the importance of being mindful and kind to others because you don’t often know what an individual has been through,” says Christina. “There are many patients we work with who have shown inspiring independence. One patient lost both arms, and with the help of technology drives again, and manages a farm. Another patient is a bilateral amputee and wanted more than just using the prostheses for transferring or pivoting from wheelchair to bed… instead wanting to walk short distances. The patient has since been travelling, accomplishing many of these short walks.”
As kinships found around the korsi change the way a participant sees another culture, so too, Christina hopes “…that we as clinicians are able to positively impact a patient’s experience of the world, and help widen understanding of the challenges amputees have overcome and have yet to face and encourage more support for them throughout the journey.”
Korsi at Nuit Blanche.
Saturday, October 1.
Gardiner Museum. 111 Queens Park.
More info at nbto.com
All photos by Kevin Van Paassen