When a Veteran needed a custom brace to help manage his condition, his VA provider turned to the My VA Images app.

Gabriel Burklund, of the Orlando VA Medical Center in Florida, is that provider. He is a prosthetics resident for the facility’s orthotic and prosthetic services clinic. My VA Images was helpful because the Veteran lived too far from the clinic to come in for regular visits.

Dr. Gabriel Burklund

Dr. Gabriel Burklund

The Veteran had a rare paralysis in his shoulder known as serratus anterior palsy and had decided not to get surgery. The condition made it difficult and painful for him to work as an automotive technician.

“The My VA Images app has been a useful tool for me as a clinical provider for orthotic and prosthetic services,” Burklund said. “My VA Images helped the Veteran identify necessary adjustments. It enabled us to reach the best outcomes even with the limited time of clinic visits.”

Securely send photos and videos

With My VA Images, Veterans receive photo and video requests through email with a link to My VA Images. Veterans can then securely send photos and videos to their VA providers. These photos and videos would be of the Veterans in their homes performing activities such as exercises or walking up stairs. This can give a more accurate depiction of their conditions and lives outside of a clinical setting.

After the Veteran’s initial assessment, Burklund and the clinic team created a cast of the Veteran’s shoulder to make a brace prototype. The Veteran then waited for his initial fitting for the brace.

Creating the brace prototype took about a week. Everything was done in-house at the Orlando prosthetic clinic, from making the mold to pulling the plastic and creating pads to adjust the brace’s fit.

Remote review for eight weeks with no clinic visits

After the Veteran’s initial fitting, Burklund instructed him to wear the prototype for eight weeks. During this time, the Veteran took photos and videos of himself wearing the brace in his home. The Veteran then sent the photos and videos to Burklund. This enabled him to review the brace’s fit and function remotely over the eight weeks without requiring the Veteran to visit the clinic.

The Veteran’s VA care team also reviewed the photos and videos to track the Veteran’s range of motion. The team members then used their observations – and Burklund’s – to adjust the brace. This would improve the Veteran’s range of motion and manage his pain more effectively.

For Veterans who live far from a VA facility, appointments for brace adjustments can be an all-day event, especially for those like Burklund’s Veteran because he lived two-and-a-half hours away from the clinic.

Veteran now working with significantly reduced pain

Burklund said that other Veterans who have used My VA Images have appreciated how easy the appointment process has become when using the app between visits.

The Orlando clinic fit the Veteran with his custom brace at his next in-person visit. Within the first 12 weeks of wearing the brace, the Veteran noticed he could move better and with less pain. With the brace, the Veteran can now work with significantly reduced pain and with workplace accommodations.

Burklund said he will continue recommending My VA Images to Veterans whenever he needs to better monitor their conditions between visits and outside of a clinical setting.

“As a prosthetics provider, I can use My VA Images to contact Veterans and examine device fit and function,” he said. “We can assist quickly and efficiently, and it has been convenient for participating Veterans.”

To learn more, visit the My VA Images page on the VA App Store.

For assistance with My VA Images, please contact the Health Resource Center Help Desk at 877-470-5947.

By Treva Lutes is the communications lead for the VA Office of Connected Care

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Published on Mar. 15, 2022

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