Three of the country’s largest prosthetic manufacturers – Steeper, Ottobock and Össur – have combined their resources and expertise to support an NHS Orthotist after a life-changing accident.
Jim, who started his career as an Orthotist at Kings College London in 2000, has worked at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore since 2004. The father of two from London sustained horrific injuries whilst training for the British Triathlon Championships during June 2020.
“I relish the challenge of finding orthotic solutions for patients with complex needs”, enthuses Jim.
Jim was taking some well-deserved time off after many years of supporting patients, but was knocked off his bike by a lorry and trapped under its wheels while cycling. After the accident, his arm couldn’t be saved and was amputated at the scene mid-way up to his humerus. Jim was then rushed to Kings College Hospital where he first began his career and spent six weeks in a coma.
When he emerged from his coma, Jim had to come to terms with what had happened, and after a discussion with his orthopaedic surgeon, he found out he was lucky to be alive due to the extent of his injuries, he says: “It was a bit touch and go for a while.”
Despite his vast array of injuries, the most frustrating for Jim was that he had sustained drop foot. Drop foot is a muscular weakness or paralysis that makes it difficult to lift the front part of your foot and toes. Usually, someone with drop foot would use walking aids to prevent them from falling but because Jim’s arm had been amputated, this wasn’t an option for him.
“It was quite amusing as the physios would get me out of bed and say ‘right, walk or fall over’,” remembers Jim with a smile. “The trust have been incredibly supportive throughout this whole ordeal.
“It wasn’t a case of whether I could go back, but more of in what capacity.”
During Jim’s rehabilitation, he was introduced to Alan McDougall of ProActive Prosthetics and began to discuss his goals and the outcomes he could expect from prosthetic treatment. One of his priorities was returning to work as an Orthotist. After discussions with Jim, the organisation decided on a prescription for a new arm. This included components from three of the country’s leading prosthetic manufacturers.
Alan then reached out to the manufacturers – Steeper, Ottobock and Össur – to discuss appropriate components to allow Jim to achieve his personal goals. Without hesitation, all three companies jumped at the chance to support one of their own and play a small part in helping Jim get back to work and to move forward.
Jim has now been fitted with his prostheses which allows him to carry out day-to-day tasks and his job, but it is also fit for his future plans.
For day-to-day activities and work Alan recommended the Steeper Espire Elbow: a revolutionary powered elbow, the Espire Pro is easy to use and features an anatomical shape with a free swing option which emulates a more natural silhouette when walking. The elbow has a comfortable center of mass and the powerful battery means that the device can be used all day, which is ideal while Jim is at work.
The electronic lock and accessible power button add ease for carrying out daily activities and Jim’s busy job as an orthotist. The Espire Pro is compatible with multiple wrists and terminal devices, making it an excellent starting point for Jim’s prosthesis. The elbow control strategies are flexible enough for Jim to operate the hand or wrist and elbow simultaneously.
“The elbow amplifies the power of my body movement and allows me to get my hand to where it needs to be quicker,” explains Jim. “The natural shape and long battery life are a real added bonus.”
To enable Jim to perform his professional duties effectively when he returns to his full range of activities at work, he has been fitted with the Ottobock Greifer and Wrist Rotator. The Greifer will help Jim to work precisely and enables a powerful grip, supporting both detailed tasks as well as the handling of heavy objects. Different gripping tips (wide, narrow or rubber coated) allow further adaptation for special tasks, while the additional LED lamp illuminates the working area perfectly. The electronic wrist rotator allows Jim to fully orientate the terminal device without interrupting what the natural left arm is doing.
“I love how simply the Greifer is to use and especially the way the jaws runs in parallel,” offers Jim. “I find it very easy to gain fine control of the opening and closing speed.”
For Jim’s day-to-day needs, he has been fitted with an i-Limb Quantum from prosthetic manufacturer Össur. The i-Limb Quantum is a multi-articulating prosthetic hand that has a unique way to change grips by using simple gestures. It offers precision, power and intelligent motion.
ProActive Prosthetics have cast and made a custom fitting socket for Jim and made an arm to incorporate all the technology supplied by Steeper, Ottobock and Össur. This is a vital piece of the jigsaw in helping Jim get the most of all these components.
Now, almost 18 months on from his accident, Jim has returned to work, getting back to his full range of activities at RNOH in Stanmore and is looking to complete a Masters in Sports and Rehabilitation Psychology.
Jim has had time to reflect of what has happened now that he is further along his rehabilitation journey, and is sure his positive attitude will help him along his future path, he says: “If I could offer any advice to others going through a similar ordeal to me I would say don’t get bogged down in the detail. Keep hold of your dreams and your ambitions, and be prepared to adapt because that’s what life is all about.”