We have great stories from the clients we’ve been working with over the years, which we enjoy sharing and you may find them encouraging too. Have a read through their stories, and feel free to call us anytime if you have questions or want more information for yourself or a loved one.
Steven was 67 years old when he lost his leg below the knee. He had been a well-managed diabetic and he kept busy outdoors, fishing and hiking and visiting the gym 3 times a week. That all changed when he developed a quickly spreading infection of his big toe, which resulted in an amputation below the knee with 8 days. Life, as he knew it was over. Or so he thought.
Steven spent the next 5 weeks in hospital, first getting fitted with his initial prosthesis about 3 weeks after the amputation surgery. He was only able to wear the prosthesis for a few hours each day, but he quickly learned to walk with a walker. He was then sent home for a weekend pass and since that was successful, he was discharged after only 5 weeks in hospital. After this time, Steven would still come to the rehabilitation area of the hospital several times a week to improve his conditioning and to work on his gait training.
After about 6 months, Steven was back to enjoying time in his wood-shop and fishing off the rocks in his secret spot. Unfortunately, as these things normally go for all amputees, Steven’s limb began to shrink after being fitted with his first prosthesis. The size of his leg became smaller and the shape changed, all because of the normal muscle atrophy which happens after an amputation. Of course this affected the quality of the fit, and over the course of time, what had once been a comfortable prostheses became loose, uncomfortable and started to wear the skin. Initially, there were some repeat visits to the prosthetics clinic to adjust the socket to accommodate the changes to the limb. However, these were only successful for a period of time and eventually the prosthetic socket had to be remade. Now with a new socket, the prosthesis was comfortable again and Steven could go back to resume, and even increase his normal activities.
This now presented a new challenge: while in rehabilitation, the focus was on wound healing, physical conditioning and learning to walk with a walker and then a cane. Now that Steven was walking without a cane, and accessing a variety of rugged outdoor terrain, he found that the entry-level prosthetic foot component initially loaned to him by his prosthetist, just wasn’t cutting it. Since he was fortunate enough to have extended health coverage through his employer, Steven requested to try some of the more sophisticated prosthetic foot components recommended by his prosthetist. This included one with a hydraulic-controlled ankle component, which made ascending and descending inclines much easier.
The front-office staff at Motion Prosthetics was helpful in navigating the complexities of dealing with the provincial Pharmacare and the third party medical insurance to help pay for this more expensive but also more functional prosthesis. Now, almost 2 years after his amputation, he is back to enjoying his retirement lifestyle.
Melanie first came into the office accompanied with her husband who was pushing her in her wheelchair. While she still had both of her legs, one of them was propped up on several pillow and cushions extended out in front of her. Melanie had been told the devastating news by her medical specialist that amputation of her left leg above the knee was inevitable. They had done all they could do. Melanie had experienced several surgeries to deal with a recurring clotting of the arteries in her leg and had been living with intense pain for almost two years. She was not able to walk or stand or do anything else for that matter. She couldn’t sleep. She was taking all sorts of pain medication to manage the pain, with a number of unpleasant side effects. Finally, Melanie had decided, with her doctors advice, that it was time to move on and, schedule an amputation surgery. She came to meet with Markus to get an understanding of the process of follow up and prosthetic fitting that would be involved once she decided to go ahead with this. She left the meeting feeling a new level of comfort and relief that life would go on, that she was in good hands and days of constant pain and immobility would finally be over.
After the amputation surgery it took about three and half weeks for the wound to fully heal. But even before this, preparations were do to control the swelling of the limb and to begin shaping it in preparation for the first prosthetic fitting. When the doctors gave the “green light” to go ahead with prosthetic fitting, Markus quickly took a cast of the limb and had a trial socket ready within a few days. The trial socket was made of clear, heat-moldable plastic and was designed as a sort of mock-up of the final socket. While Melanie was in the hospital’s rehabilitation department, Markus would visit often, adjusting the shape of the socket or the angles of the prosthetic knee and foot parts, which would all influence the function and balance of the prosthesis. Within 6 weeks post-op, she was walking independently with a walker and had returned to living at home. Also, by this time, the shape and size of the prosthetic socket had been finalized. Her prosthetist made a copy of this socket and fabricated a permanent version, which included a soft and flexible inner lining and a light weight and rigid outer structural frame.
Ron has been a below the knee amputee since he was involved in a lawn-mower accident as a young child. Now at the age of 58 he had gotten used to wearing his prosthesis every day, just like someone would put on their dentures, or glasses or hearing aid. He went to work at his office job, volunteered as a hockey coach and enjoyed guarding in the backyard plot. He had been wearing the same “traditional style” of prosthesis furnished by his previous prosthetist, who had now retired. He wasn’t really uncomfortable or dis-satisfied with his prosthesis, but he had just gotten used to regularly bandaging up the sores that would recur on his residual limb. He had also gotten used to a certain type of walking gait, to compensate for the pumping or “pistoning” action of his prosthesis, due to the traditional suspension design.
Ron first met Markus because of a concern about an unusual noise that had developed in the prosthesis. Upon inspection, it became clear that the foot component had simply worn out and was literally “on it’s last legs”. At this point it would have been easiest to continue with the same design style as the previous prosthesis so as to provide continuity and not “rock the boat”. Ron had the same leather and foam-padding prosthesis, which served him well for so many decades, so why change it, right?
Well, Markus and Ron sat down and talked about some of the modern options to designing a new prosthesis. This included a gel-rubber liner or sock, rolled over the amputation stump, for additional padding and to absorb any friction. There socket would be re-shaped to allow all parts of the limb to bear some degree of weight, instead of all the load being carried in 3 or 4 “tough” areas like in traditional prostheses. The prosthesis would be held on by a flexible and skin-friendly rubber sleeve, similar to a gasket, which would seal the top of the prosthesis to the thigh. A number of foot options were presented and Ron was given the opportunity to try a few different ones in order to eventually pick the one he liked the best. Pretty much all modern prosthetic feet, Ron was told, are designed as a type of flexible and energy storing carbon composite leaf spring. The designs vary greatly, incorporating different shapes and combinations, in order to provide energy return, adaptation to slopes and irregularities and shock absorption. Of course Ron was somewhat reluctant to get involved with a new prosthesis that was totally different than anything he had before, however Markus provided assurance that should the new prosthesis design turn out to be rejected, he would go back and provide a “classic” version as a guarantee.
When the prosthesis was finally completed, Ron couldn’t believe how much more comfortable, light weight and “part-of-him” the prosthesis felt. He realized he had been avoiding or walking around certain community obstacles with his old foot, that he could now just tackle head on. Skin breakdown was a thing of the past. Even though Ron was really a very accomplished and functional amputee before, he couldn’t believe how much he had adapted to a poor fit by taking breaks, avoiding certain tasks or obstacles or asking others for help. Now, with a well-fitting and modern prosthesis, Ron feels like he can do even more things, for longer and in more comfort. He only wonders why he didn’t make the change years ago!
Chuck had been working in the logging industry since he finished high school, when a terrible accident changed his life forever. His left leg was severely injured below the knee and there was no other option but to amputate the limb. This was devastating news, especially as a father of a young family, who had been the provider for his family, but also as one who enjoyed hockey, baseball, fishing and other active outdoor pursuits. Chuck was referred to Markus by a mutual friend who happened to make the connection.
As a young, healthy man, wound healing was relatively uncomplicated but of course there was a persistent deep pain related to the intense trauma of his life-changing injury. Within 4 weeks post injury, Chuck was able to begin gently using a prosthesis for short periods of time. There were many adjustments to the shape and size of the prosthetic socket to accommodate the changing limb and also to find a suitable orientation of load-tolerant surfaces on the limb. Through many trials and changes, often testing both Markus and Chuck’s patience, a successful fit was achieved. Over the weeks, Chuck was able to gradually increase his prosthetic wear time as well as rely less and less on his crutches. Within 8 months, he was able to wear the prosthesis all day and relatively pain free. Eventually, he was able to return to work part-time and to return to some of his beloved recreational pursuits.
Of course this is not the end of the story, as Chuck set the bar increasingly higher for himself and for Markus. His ultimate dream was to return to playing competitive baseball and this meant an entirely new level of demands from his prosthesis: it would have to tolerate impact, side-loads, quick changes of direction and be able to permit running. As with all prostheses, the design starts from the top down with a great fitting socket. With Chuck’s feedback, Markus patiently adjusted the socket so it was comfortable for standing, sprinting, the rotational forces of batting and, most challenging, the intense side-load associated with dropping a moving 230 lb. man sideways into a limb that had a complicated and painful anatomy. One important tool to achieve this was the use of an elevated vacuum device, which through an electronically controlled air pump, essentially “sucks the prosthesis” onto the limb, creating an unprecedented level of connection and control. This prosthesis also required an especially designed sport activity foot, which is designed to absorb high levels of impact while rebounding stored energy to the next step. The placement and angular alignment of this foot was critical in achieving perfect balance and a comfortable and controlled run.
Today, Chuck enjoys a variety of sports as well as fishing on the high seas and turning wood in his wood shop. Every now and then he visits Motion Prosthetics again, usually when one of his activities has caused his prosthesis to wear out or fail, or if he needs a small tune-up!