David lost his leg in an accident when he was only three years old and has spent the last eighteen years walking on two crutches. That was, of course, until last week before Jaco Deist did the final fitting of David’s new prosthesis.
Jaco Deist first met David when he came to the practice looking for a new pair of crutches; what he left with was so much more. Just so, after meeting David it is safe to say he is one of the most positive human beings I have ever come across too with his unfaltering drive to be independent. He was told independence would never be possible for him, but with the help of Jaco Deist and Antonie Schutze (TUT Orthotics and Prosthetics Technologist) we witnessed David walking with the support of only one crutch.
The short time the prosthesis has been available to David, and the speed with which he got accustomed to using it, is significant given it has been eighteen years since he could stand or walk with either of his hands free. Antonie Schutze says, “Everyone just needs a chance, the chance everyone deserves.” With their help David has a new lease on life and the joy is written across his face. Watch as David takes some of his first steps with the help of a Rheo Knee, fit for him by Jaco Deist.
The Rheo Knee contains microprocessors which adjust to David’s natural gait within the first fifty steps that he takes wearing the new high-tech prosthesis; the prosthesis collects data and essentially learnshow to better support David as he uses it. As the knee learns, its use will require less of David’s energy so walking only gets better and easier. David learned to sit, walk and negotiate an incline within a matter of hours. When he wanted to sit down he exclaimed to Deist, “Teach me to sit down!”
Every challenge is met with excitement, intrigue and an unbreakable smile. In fact when David sat down after feeling the support of the Rheo Knee beneath him he sighed and ever-smiling said, “I can do it.”
The prosthesis for a hemipelvectomy is larger than most and may seem cumbersome to those who cannot imagine ever having to replace a hip and leg. However, David says it takes only moments to put on and take off – he also happily announces that he can wear the shoes of his choosing with his new prosthesis. He sees no inconveniences or hassle – only opportunities and hope. Deist himself said that it is usually the patient’s attitude which convinces him of the success the patient will have with the prosthetic he gives: not the patient’s condition.