Pain-Free for the First Time in 40 Years: A Below the Knee Amputee Tells her Inspirational Story
Sarah first discovered the iWALK2.0 while preparing for her below the knee amputation in December 2015. We met her soon after, while Sarah was preparing for a charity event organized in the UK that involved walking over 3 miles on her iWALK2.0., and we have been in touch with her ever since. Sarah has shared her story with us; from her early challenges with a bone growth disorder, the recent decision to go forward with a below the knee amputation, her success with the iWALK2.0, to the present day and her lower leg amputation recovery. We think others will benefit from her inspirational journey. Here is Sarah’s story in her own words;
The Early Years: Multiple Ankle and Foot Operations
I was born was born with Metaphyseal Dysplasia, which is a malunion of the bones, along with several other severe bone growth disorders to my ankle and foot. My first operation took place when I was just 1 year old and was followed by countless procedures, operations, and therapy treatments over the following 3 decades. A few of my many operations include;
- Countless ankle joint osteotomies to correct persistent growth angular deformities.
- Jones Procedure, removal of small joints, fusion of the IP joint
- Tumor removal
- Lizarov Frame to correct ankle joint angulation and limb lengthening
- Ankle debridement and removal of osteocytes
- Internal plates fitted to the ankle joint
- Surgical pinning
Many of my surgeries were problematic, causing me to suffer significant nerve damage to the area and end-stage arthritis. Walking pain free is a condition that I had never experienced, which lead to my recent decision to move forward with a below knee amputation.
Discovering iWALK2.0 and Gaining Independence
I discovered the iWALK2.0 in December of 2015, two months before my below the knee amputation was scheduled, and was immediately amazed at the difference the iWALK2.0 made to my life. I quickly found walking on the iWALK2.0 was easier than walking on my own leg. The iWALK2.0 also took away around 65 % of the pre-op pain overall, and 100% of the weight bearing pain. During the pre amputation stage, I had been suffering from dehydration and malnutrition, and was happy to find that it is not necessary to be fit and healthy to be able to use the iWALK2.0.
After a week, I was able to resume my normal activities, such as caring for my two dogs and my horse. I noticed that my horse had been wary of the crutches, but accepted the iWALK2.0 quickly, even looking for it when I would visit. Since the iWALK2.0 is hands-free, I was able to load a wheelbarrow with hay and feed my horse with ease.
As I began to return to my day-to-day activities with the iWALK2.0, I also started experimenting with activities that I had either given up on, or had never dared to attempt before. Holiday shopping came first. December 2015 marked the first time in my life that I was able to enjoy Holiday shopping without pain. I found myself navigating quickly through crowds and easily managing stairs. Running on a treadmill had only been a dream for me before, but with the iWALK2.0, I was able to run on a treadmill for the first time in my life. Another activity that would have been impossible before the iWALK2.0 was a 3-mile charity walk that I organized, and participated in.
iWALK Charity Walk
The Journey Continues: iWalk2.0 and Early Stages of Pre-prosthetic!
After returning home from the hospital, and only fourteen days after my amputation surgery, I cautiously began using the iWALK2.0. I used it daily, but restricted myself to indoor activity only. I was pleased to find that the iWALK2.0 did not cause any swelling, and as I regained strength and stability, I began using my iWALK2.0 outdoors as well. I found that the iWALK2.0 gave me added comfort because it also kept my newly amputated limb elevated and protected. In addition to regaining my mobility, the hands-free nature of the iWALK2.0 also gave me the freedom to exercise in ways that would not have been otherwise possible.
This video shows me using the PPAM (Pneumatic Post Amputation Mobility Aid) for the first time. The PPAM is a device that allows trans-tibial amputees to practice walking with a more natural gait. There are other benefits as well; reduction in post-operative oedema, and overall improvements in patient happiness. Because the PPAM and the iWALK2.0 both share the same walking principles, I made an easy transition to the PPAM, impressing my physical therapist.
The difference that the iWALK2.0 has made in my life pre and post-amputation has been amazing. While I know that there is still a long road ahead of me as I continue to prepare for the transition to a prosthetic leg, I credit the iWALK2.0 with my smooth post-surgery recovery. I am also planning on using my iWALK2.0 as a back up to my prosthetic whenever an additional device is needed for my mobility.