So as a hemipelvectomy I hear often that “You will use crutches for the rest of your life and they really don’t have any prosthetics that work.” Well I want to show what is possible and what can be done. Now, I am not saying everyone can get one and make it work. That just won’t happen. Some don’t have insurance or insurance that will cover it. Some are too old. Too weak. Not coordinated enough. Not motivated enough. Or just simply don’t want to use one and that’s fine! But please don’t think you shouldn’t try and don’t give up before you’ve seen what you personally can do.
I’m lucky. My insurance is great and I’ve had amazing support from my care team to get approval. I’m only 29 and have been physically active in my life and have also had above average coordination. I want to carry my daughter, hunt, fish, play sports, and just be able to carry things in my hands again! My wife and daughter provide me with all the motivation I need to work at it. On top of that, my prosthetist wasn’t too proud to admit and say that he needs help to get me the best fit possible which is critical. Ottobock has a cooperative program where a guy will come to where you are and do your casting/fitting and alignment. It’s a lifesaver.Now for the really cool nerdy stuff!! There are 4 aspects to my prosthesis; foot, knee, hip, socket. Each one needs to work together and be optimized for me. The foot is the Taleo foot. It’s brand new and while it has many features that are greatly beneficial to an above knee(AK) or below knee (BK), the biggest thing for me is that it’s waterproof. Not just fresh water, salt water too!! It will handle things from walking to light sports so I won’t need anything different for a while.
The knee is the X3 microprocessor knee. This thing is epic and needs its own paragraph!!! It was designed in conjunction with the DoD in an effort to allow soldiers get back into active duty. It’s water, dust, sand proof, has a rubberized shell to protect it, 5 day battery life, sensors so that it knows where it’s at in space at all times, stumble recovery, 5 programmable modes for different activities, silent mode, and just all around looks badass.
The hip is the Helix 3D and is built to help initiate the swing phase (when you move your leg forward). As a hemipelvectomy this is critical. You have no bone so there is very little other than soft tissue to push your leg toward with. The socket is like a bucket. It helps to support me when I sit down and is designed to keep the leg on and in the perfect spot. This means it’s tight! That said, I can still breathe and move comfortably in it. This is possibly the most critical part of a prosthesis. If this doesn’t fit right you get sores, it hurts, it’s not efficient at capturing the energy so it’s harder to use, and you will stop using it.
A couple of days ago I had my casting/fitting done and walked in my test socket to get everything perfect before the final socket is made. The video is a small part of the steps I took. If you are a hemipelvectomy or a hip disarticulation amputee, please don’t give up. Fight for your ability to get one, find a support team that cares deeply for your success, and go for it!! The more we fight and try, the better our prosthetics will get and the more freedom we’ll be able to have.