IPOH, Wed. - The Yayasan Sultan Idris Shah today urged the public to consult the physiotherapists and occupational therapists in the general hospitals or private medical centres before donating equipment to the handicapped.

"Such steps should be taken to ensure that equipment, such as artificial limbs or wheelchairs, donated to the disabled are suitable for their use," the foundation's chairman, Tan Sri V. Jeyaratnam, told a Press conference here today.

He was happy that the report on the plight of eight-year-old Noraida Johari, of Kuala Terengganu, published by the New Straits Times had sparked off a spontaneous and general response from the Malaysian public who had donated cash, a pair of artificial limbs and two wheelchairs.

Unfortunately, he said, the pair of artificial legs and the wheelchairs given to Noraida, who was born without legs and right hand, were unsuitable for her use.

In view of this, the foundation had sent two qualified occupational therapists, a German and a Malaysian, to Noraida's home last Sunday to help assess her requirements and recommend the necessary equipment.

During their two-day stay, Miss Waltraud Rothe and Mrs Eugene Tan found that Noraida could not balance herself with the pair of artificial legs and had fallen flat on her face and back several times.

They also found that she could not use the two wheelchairs because she could not propel them to the direction intended since she has only one hand.

Besides, she did not need a wheelchair within the house where she is very mobile. The compound of her house is sandy and is not suitable for a wheelchair.

Jeyaratnam said the therapists have proposed that she be fitted with graduated conventional artificial limbs with a well-fitted stump socket for her to get used to using artificial limbs without the fear of falling especially at her impressionable age and after her past experiences.

The prosthetic specialist from Mediviron had already made moulds of her thighs and stumps.

The foundation will provide the funds for the artificial limbs which will have to be changed every few years to adjust to her growth till Noraida reaches mature age.

The artificial hand will be considered at a later stage.

Jeyaratnam said the foundation has arranged with the physiotherapy and occupational therapy departments in the Kuala Terengganu General Hospital to provide Noraida with training in walking and other exercises.

The Kuala Terengganu Welfare Department will also act as a liaison agency to co-ordinate the training and exercise programmes.

Home visits would also be made to carry out modifications to the home environment.