Saturday, 19 November 2016

BTK Crossover How Awesome is this Leg ?

Take 2 and my second opportunity to have a go on the BTK Crossover. Not only that but Paul my prosthetist along with Mike one of Pace's technicians had worked all week to get my final definitive socket ready for me so I was proper excited.

It's amazing to think after only 2, yes that is 2 visits here I was ready to pick up a complete limb, that actually fits.

Glenn BTK Crossover
BTK Crossover first time on bike

As we set off for Pace, when I say we I mean Ern, Claire and myself (No Room for Baxter as my bike was in the back of the car) the weather was just awful. I hate being on the motorway at the best of times, but when it is bad weather and someone else is driving well I get very anxious. The further we drove down the country towards Manchester the worse it got. As we got towards Saddleworth Moor and as my dad said "we are coming over the tops" it was snowing and the hills and moors were covered. Yet again we missed the turn off for the M60, just like we did a fortnight ago. I think it was not only because of the bad weather, but also because of the road works and the contraflow. Never mind the very kind lady who speaks on behalf of Google maps gave us a helping hand and although we had to take a slight diversion it wasn't too long before we arrived at Pace.

I really enjoy visiting Pace, everyone is so friendly, it's a super relaxed atmosphere and nine times out ten you get to meet some very interesting people whilst there. It's great getting the opportunity to chat with people and share your experiences, both inspiring and being inspired yourself.

It wasn't long before Paul came along and we got started, Paul popping us in the larger treatment room as he wanted to get me up and on the bike on the turbo to see how the Crossover was preforming. As Ern, Claire and I waited it wasn't long before Paul came back with the completed BTK limb. Wow it looked amazing. I mean aesthetically, it just looks so mean and menacing. Finished in black carbon, also with a black inner liner. There are some really neat touches to this socket. For example upon first trying the BTK Crossover out we identified that in my job as a physio assistant I quite often kneeled. As the Crossover can almost flex completely back upon itself I would need a stop to protect the valve on the Rock Shox RT3 shocker. Paul passed this info on to Mike and Mike did an outstanding job of incorporating protective bump stops into my socket. I also love other neat touches like the position of the air valve, again it's black and set right at the rear of the socket. Other things which are part of the BTK Crossover being a 'hybrid' design are the removable tendon receivers. This means when in walking mode you don't have two pieces of carbon (the receivers) poking through your pants in a fixed position. The new receivers are simple to attach when needed, held in place by a small cross-head bolt.

There has been so much thought put into this new knee. The fact that it can go from a ambulatory design to a sports knee in minutes is pure genius. The knee comes with everything you need to convert for your desired sport. The only tools you need are 3, 4, 5mm Allen wrench and a Phillips screw driver. The design also can be used with what are known as Crossflex Wedges which alter the amount of flexion in the knee for your chosen sport (should only be used for sport). These wedges do not require any tooling and simply pop in.

Glenn Johnstone BTK Crossover
Just looks awesome, never wearing long pants again lol Notice tendon receiver placement
BTK Crossover
Sports Mode BTK Crossover
Valve placement and very clever bump stops for RT3
I was eager to get the new knee on a give it a go. Paul provided me with a Ossur XTF liner which he cut to size. I had been using exactly the same liner however it was not giving me great coverage having been cut for a different socket by someone else. It's amazing how a liner can effect comfort as any amputee will tell you. They can be the best thing or worst thing depending how they are cut or worn.

New leg on, now for my second attempt at walking. I was a little nervous and slightly tentative at first, remembering that only a few weeks ago this new knee had felt really weird. This is because it works in a totally different fashion to my old Total Knee. It is hard to describe to anyone who has there own two legs, but the slightest change in a prosthesis and you notice it, never mind a completely new socket, knee and foot....Oh and the new foot is an Ossur Pro-flex XC by the way.

BTK Crossover
Well Pleased
A Little bit of flexion in stance

The new Crossover allows for flexion in stance, my old leg does not. My old Total Knee kind of locks in stance phase if you have the weight over the heel, breaking into flexion as I transfer weight to my toes. The BTK Crossover is set up in such a way that when I stand perfectly straight the socket and knee are aligned to give me security in stance. As I transfer my weight forward the knee which does not lock breaks allowing me to take a step. 

So far I have found the BTK Crossover tiring, however this is not a complaint about the knee, no it is more to do with me getting used to the new walking style and training my muscles and hip flexors. On the day O probably wore the wrong shoes too. Paul picked up and it is clear in the video that my canvas trainers didn't offer much support. You can see I am going over slightly on my good left foot. I am positive with practice I will begin walking much smoother.


The BTK Crossover I have found has more resistance (this can be adjusted to suit the individual) when initially walking, again not a bad thing, in fact on the occasions I have stumbled the knee has kind of given me a que a I can feel the resistance. So far in walking the hardest thing I have found is walking down a ramp or incline. All in all yesterdays practice was brilliant. From wearing the new Crossover in a check socket roughly two weeks ago and having my first steps and then trying it out again in  a final socket and walking for my second time i have to say I am extremely happy as were Paul and Mike. Oh and of course my dad and Claire, who said they were "Really proud of me" awww! All that is required now is lots and lots of real world practice, however not to over do it. Of course now I get to tell you about the other side and what the BTK Crossover was like on the bike.

Ooh whilst I think on as we mentioned the resistance. I dropped Brian an email just to see how he had his set up. Brian came back with "I do use the knee for my daily leg & I use just about 5-6 pumps of air(which does not register on pump dial) calculated to be about 5psi.   Now that is for my daily walking movements with the Blue lever (compression/ flexion) at the 10 O'clock position.  When I come to an unstable walking environment or walking down a slope I'll just move the lever (Blue lever) to the 2 O'clock or 6 O'clock positions depending on the terrain.  This is how I walk around so as I don't have to stop and pump air into the system, utilize low air for easy movement but then utilize the shock adjustments for stability in unstable environments.  The extension speed(Red dial) of the knee should be at a speed that is comfortable to you that doesn't swing out to fast but yet look for a smoother gait that you can trust your foot being in place & stable for the next step".

BTK Crossover
Feels awesome on the bike
When I first started riding on the original BTK it took me sometime to figure out "how the hell do I work this thing". I did exactly what Brian said and I put in what I expected to get out, for me that was lots and lots of hard work. It must have paid off because when I was lucky enough to ride with Brian out in Seattle on a secret trail on Widby Island in Seattle he said to me "Wow Glenn you are just as good as me on my knee". Now that is high praise indeed, especially when it's your good friend and iI know Brian hates me saying this but "hero". Anyhoo moving on to trying the BTK Crossover on the bike for the first time I wasn't sure what to expect. Yeah I knew it would work, that was a given, but how would it feel. To be honest I can't really explain. In one sense it feels the same, yet so much more better. I found it easier to get up and out of the saddle. I could feel the shock doing far more work that the tendons. It's difficult doing a comparison to the old BTK as I was indoors and on a turbo trainer. I will write more when I have a go on a few trails. Paul asked me from a patient point of view "If someone was getting up and on this thing for the first time would it be easier than the original BTK?" I answered "Yeah I think so". I found I did not have to be over the handlebars quite so much and leaning off the back of the bike again in the turbo there was just so much support. Lets not forget all the work Paul and Mike did on my socket of course. It is really clever how socket design has come along. When I first stared out I never dreamt I would have a socket I could both walk in and ride in. My NHS sockets of the past nipped and boy were they uncomfortable on the bike. Yet here we are a design that feels equally as comfortable to walk in as taking part in sports. plus with this unique knee in minutes it adapts to either or.

Taking a quick break
Mike running through converting from sport to walk
And so now the hard work begins. I am so looking forward to new adventures both on and off the trail, learning to walk and I know both Paul and Mike will be eagerly following my progress so I won't let you down lads. Claire and Ern and the rest of my family say a huge thank you.

In ending it would not be right to also not mention Brian. He got back in touch with me way back in April so excited about his new design and I just feel so very fortunate that with the support of Pace Rehab who did the groundwork with Fabtech Systems Leftsideinc and The Arctic ONE Foundation that  they agreed to Co-support me and help me move forward.

1 comment:

  1. You continue to inspire so many people I am immensely proud of you ... xx claire