Running for the first time with my new Cheetah leg
Last week I was invited to participate in Ossur's High Performance Sport Symposium in Orlando Florida.
It has been 11 years since I last visited Florida and arriving back to the Sunshine State which I used to call home for awhile was a mixture of joy and anticipation.
Day one consisted of an introduction to the program and Ossur’s new state of the art facility that hosts full fabrication facilities and the new Ossur Academy teaching and training space. I have always marvelled at the 'American' way of top notch approach to business and this was on par with the big guys.
Francois Van Der Watt - US paralympic Track & Field team prosthetist was the chief instructor and during these 2 fascinating days I had an insider view of the world of high performance prosthetics.
I had the pleasure of being the 'test bunny' and had a custom high performance Cheetah leg built for me from scratch!
Here is Scott Hedlund (my prosthetist) and Francois drilling alignment holes to fit the Cheetah to my socket.
Step one was to build a check socket which was used for alignment and positioning. once all measurements and final adjustments were made is was replaced with a cool looking very light carbon fibre socket!
A lot of planing and brainstorming took place while all participating prosthetists workout on a new elevated vacuum system for my socket. This was the first time such a system was built into a running leg socket and we didn't know if it will work out till the end...
It is hard to describe how it feels to run again. After my accident I thought I will never run again and even after the amputation I thought running is just not for me and if I will ever try it again it will be in 2-3 years after my stump matured enough.
My throat chocked as strapped on my new leg and took the first step. I felt as if I was walking on a trampoline or a spring mattress. For the first time I felt a direct response from a prosthesis that provided so much energy return and feel I didn't know what do with it. As I took my first few jogging steps that evolved into running steps I was overwhelmed by joy and euphoria - I am RUNNING!!! almost 10 months since my amputation and here I am - running again.
Blessed and grateful
much love to you all
In a few months I will test a new prototype foot based on the Cheetah but with a heal for day to day use - can't wait to try it on!
During the symposium we had the pleasure of having Regas Woods - 2014 US Paralympics champion in 100M, 200M and long jump share his insight about setting up running legs and common trouble shooting. Regas shared with me his experience and provided insight and tips on how to run and use the leg properly. It was a wonderful experience - Thank you Regas! He will compete for the US in Rio 2016 - Good Luck!
On top of working full time and training every day ("not off season for me" he told me when we met) he is contributing his time to sponsor and mentor disabled youth on overcoming adversity with a positive attitude. He also visits schools to speak out against bullying. He teaches children that what makes you different is what makes you special, and that they can do anything! Regas and Nick Stilwell have founded the Never say never foundation where they help youth discover their true abilities through sports - amazing guys and an inspiring goal.
Check out their pro video below.