Saturday, 18 October 2014

Running prosthesis stage 1

I'm on my holiday's, not going anywhere tropical or warm or even anywhere in particular really, though I do have some pretty exciting stuff going on in my life at the moment which is a bit closer to home and will involve travelling down to Manchester next week. But hey lets not jump the gun, let me start at the best place the beginning.
Paul blessing my stump lol

I love this shot it's so funny and I'm sure Paul will also see the funny side. I wasn't sure if he was blessing my stump or was a practising faith healer with the promise of "I can make it grow back".

"Hey Paul I'll just settle for one of your awesome sockets m8"

 As many of you will know I have been trying to raise much needed funds along with Arctic ONE to put towards the completion of a running prosthesis.

How all this came about was after visiting the US, last year and getting some really great advice from a gentleman named Scott Clark who is a prosthetist over at Baker Orthotics and Prosthetics who are based in Dallas Fort Worth TX. Scott had asked would I like to progress into doing other activities other than riding a bike and my reply was "sure, however as you know prosthetic gear is very expensive and I just can't afford that kind of layout". I went on to explain that our health system works entirely different to the US and indeed many other countries. I had tried contacting various companies and people, but always came to a dead end, so basically I had put the thought of ever being able to run to the back of my head, much preferring to concentrate on what I could do, rather than waste negative energy being consumed by what I wasn't able too (Notice I said unable to and not can't ) That's the thing with a lot of people they quite often get worn down by the whole health system when they don't have some kind of funding in place, and aren't able to obtain the right equipment to help move them along in their chosen direction. These people quite often then get a Negative "Can't" attitude and as we all know it's pretty much down hill from there.

 Me well I'm not really a Can't type person, oh sure I have my bad days, after all I'm human. No I much more prefer to be a give it a go or head off and do something else kind of person. A lot of people may think why does he get all this stuff and if I was to think on that I would say it's because I put myself out there. I'm not afraid to ask for help or tell it how it is. I'm prepared to put in the hard work, however I never want to be thought of as just taking handouts. Each and every person,clinic, charity or company I have or do receive support from I always try to to my best to support them in return,offering feedback, appearing in the odd news article,spreading the word of the fantastic work they do and just generally saying thank you for having faith in me that I won't just quit.

Getting back to Scott and his advice, well he suggested I contact the Challenged Athletes Foundation which is situated in the US and on my return I did just that. After filling in all the required paperwork along with 2 references, one from Toby my prosthetist at Pace and another from my boss Dan at work I eventually got confirmation that my grant had been approved, this is the first year CAF have actually funded International athletes so I feel very proud. Initially I had been turned down and I have to admit I was gutted, but I consoled myself that I was very lucky and could always just head out and ride as I was after all still sponsored on my Bartlett Tendon and supported by Pace. So the next step was raising enough money to obtain all of the components necessary and of course the choice of who to build my new leg was easy, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who I trusted, had huge respect for and who knew me, not only as a client, but also a good friend to everyone at Pace.

Within days of discovering I had been approved by the Challenged Athletes Foundation I was in discussion with Matt and Bex, two of the trustees of  charity named Arctic ONE and we hit it off immediately and fund raising began.

And this brings me to the here and now I could waffle on about all the stuff that's gone on in between, though to be fair if you have read my blog you will already have a good idea. So I will move on to yesterday's appointment with another one of my Pace Rehabilitation prosthetists and Paul Richardson.  Paul is a local lad and is to be the lead clinician up here in the North East at Pace's satellite clinic in West Moor Newcastle at the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic. We get on very well together and quite often have a good bit banter and a laugh. I really enjoy my time spent with all of the team, it's just such a relaxed friendly atmosphere.

Many people don't understand what goes into being fitted for a check socket, or even what a 'check socket' is. Well put it this way it isn't as easy as heading off to the shops and picking a pair of shoes that are roughly in your size. The whole procedure is time consuming, quite hard work and very messy. A check socket, put simply is a test socket. It allows both the patient and prosthetist to tinker with the design of a socket to get it to fit well for comfort and activity, before being used in the manufacture of a final socket and the finished article.

First job for Paul was to re-measure my stump and then choose an appropriate size liner. I'm currently wearing a size 34 and what do you know after Paul inspected my stump and measured it I now appear to be a size 30 liner.

I'm used to being fitted, however for new amputees it can be an embarrassing process

  I put the reduction in size down to me being even more active now that I'm working. At one time I would quite happily sit with my leg off all day, if I wasn't doing anything. Nowadays I find I wear my leg from getting up in the morning to when I go to bed on a night.

Not a good look I have to say

All trussed up like a Christmas Turkey
After all the measuring it was time to pop on the new liner which Paul had  trimmed to fit me and get wrapped in cling film. Then I got to wear some pretty uncool looking tights and Paul fastened various bands and straps in place and had a bit feel about to find the important areas, marking them as he went along. This would give him an idea of which areas needed tweaking and where exactly I would be in the check socket once it came off.

Next step was to talk through the various positions Paul wanted me in in order to get a good fit and allow him to wrap the plaster around my liner and stump and across my hips and bottom. We then got to it, Paul getting some additional assistance from Tracy, the physiotherapist at the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic. Paul was expecting the plaster to go off fast as it was quite warm in the room, so worked quickly, but accurately. Making sure every strip of plaster was in place before smoothing it around. The plaster requires to be pushed into place in certain areas so that a good shape can be achieved. Eventually the plaster started to go off and Paul made a few pencil marks in various key positions before helping to remove the cast and then trimming off the excess material not needed.

Oh it's all glamorous work


Tracy don't you know it's rude to point
A bit of a wedgie going on down there guys
 There we go we had what looked like a dam fine representation of my stump with liner on.

My Check Socket
 I am now booked in to pay Paul and Pace a visit next Thursday, this time heading down to their Cheadle clinic in Manchester. There I will get to try on my check socket,  find out if the socket needs tweaking for comfort and fit. Then when this is all sorted out Pace will move on to make me a final socket and the components will be added to make up a complete bespoke to me running prosthesis with a new fan-dangled carbon running Blade.

As I draw an end to this story I would just like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Pace Rehabilitation, the Lombard Physiotherapy Clinic, The Challenged Athletes Foundation and of course Arctic ONE. Without your support and through time I could possibly have turned into one of those "Can't people", now however my aim is to be the best I possibly can. My only competition and limiting factor is myself.

I'm very pleased to be in the position to get my gear, however learning to run is not my only goal. I want to continue to use  this new challenge I am taking on and continue to raise additional funding for those people who like myself find them in a position of needing assistance. So if you think it's a worthy cause to give someone something of their life back, for less than a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar why not support Arctic ONE.

You can either give directly to ArcticONE or visit my Virgin Just Giving Page. I don't see any of the money it goes directly to Arctic ONE and they are very transparent in where all the money they receive goes. Unlike many charities the donations aren't tied up in admin fees and paying peoples wages. Your money actually goes directly to the people who need it, whether they be able bodied or disabled.

Glenn's Virgin Just Giving page on Behalf of Arctic ONE

Arctic One Virgin Just Giving Page

Thank you.


  1. I await the Video's of the running adventures as avidly as I do the cycling ones buddy, no doubt knowing you, you will be working towards a Marathon, and we as usual will follow eagerly..

    Gordon McFadden
    United Amputees

  2. Aww thanks Gordon, yes I will give it my best shot. I always try to think of what ever I'm doing as a way forward for other ordinary people like myself. If they can see me doing it then it certainly can give them hope that they can get out there and achieve the things they would like to attempt to do. it doesn't have to be cycling or running, even a gentle walk is a start for a lot of people.

    thanks for all your support...