Sunday, 6 November 2016

Pace Rehabiliation has got their hands on a BTK Crossover

As the title to my blog says Pace Rehabilitation have got their hands on a BTK Crossover.

So when I got the call from Paul my prosthetist a few weeks back saying 'Glenn things are looking positive' Imagine how excited I was for today to arrive.

Paul and Mike what a team
The story goes

A few months earlier I had met with my friend Brian Bartlett down in London, when he invited me to have a look at his awesome new knee the BTK Crossover. Brian explained that the new knee had been backward engineered. So rather than it being an out and out sports knee, the new knee design was the first 'Hybrid' knee of it's kind and it would allow you to firstly just get out an walk around on it, then with a few tweaks and the addition of cams and the tendons it could be used in the same way as the previous BTK for sports.

Brian Bartlett and Glenn Johnstone BTK Crossover
Brian and Me
Brian explained the new BTK Crossover although similar to it's successor had been totally redesigned. Years upon years of product testing, feedback, engineering, body mechanics and all the other things that Brian had learnt over the years have gone into the New Crossover.

Now going back to 2009 I was very fortunate enough, along with the support of Pace Rehabilitation to become the first person to trial the original production model of the Bartlett Tendon. I can recall meeting Brian and his partner Laurie up in Scotland along with one of Pace's prosthetists Jamie Gillespie. At the time Brian had been invited over to a sporting conference on behalf of Strathclyde University and this gave him the opportunity to demo his brilliant knee. 
Our first meeting way back and the Original BTK Wow I still have that shirt and shorts lol Oh and Bike
And so my biking adventures and close friendship began with both the team at Pace Rehab and Brian himself. I feel very fortunate indeed that since then our relationships have grown even stronger and this is where I am now, again being supported by Pace Rehabilitation in cooperation with Fabtech Systems and on the new incarnation of the BTK, the BTK Crossover and also with the help and support of my friends over at The Arctic ONE Foundation.

Above knee amputee, BTK Crossover,Glenn Johnstone
Sporting the BTK Crossover

Ok so back to this really exciting piece of kit. I mean those in the know don't want to read about past history they want to know what this knee is like.

So after meeting with both Paul my prosthetist and Mike one of Pace's technicians we got stuck straight in. I already had a check socket which was designed for my running blade. Paul felt confident with a few tweaks that socket could be fine tuned as a starting base for a 'Hybrid' socket for the BTK Crossover. As most of you will know you can have the best knee in the world under you however if it is uncomfortable you can forget it. So this was our starter. Lets just say 'Sorted' So I can move on to the knee.

I have been using a Ossur Total Knee 2100 to walk in, it is the only knee I have ever used so getting up and on the BTK Crossover was 'weird'. It kind of reminded me when I first started to learn how to ride with the old BTK. I can remember being really frustrated down at Pace in the clinic room as could I hell get out the saddle and ride foot over foot in the turbo trainer. I was then allowed to bring the knee home and again I struggled whilst practising in the street. I had actual tears of frustration and me being me became overly critical not of the equipment but myself. In the end with practice and determination I took my friend Brian Bartlett's advice 'You will only get what you put into this knee'. Anyhoo this time around I understood 'hey it's a new knee I am not used to it and it is going to take time'. I have learnt a lot about myself as an amputee and also through my job I suppose. Seeing people overcome life's challenges is both inspirational and very rewarding when you know you may have played a small part. 

So whilst in the treatment room I just listened to Paul and tried my best. I tried to walk and offer as much feedback as possible, let him know what was working and what felt strange. Both Paul and Mike were awesome, watching my technique then pin pointing certain areas and to try different things.

Pace Rehab, BTK Crossover
Following Paul's instructions
At first the new Limb felt way too long, and the resistance which I was not used to was totally alien to me. I discovered upon each step of the new limb I would catch my toes.  Paul explained the limb was the correct length, what it was was that my Total Knee with it being a 6 bar Hydraulic system the hydraulics actually shorten the limb in the swing phase. In reality I am just walking not using my hip extension as much because that is what I have become used to. During our back and forth practising between the bars I gradually became better and better. The BTK Crossover relies on a really good aligned socket as there is no 'Lock' like upon my Total Knee. At first this was unnerving. I mean I am a lot more used to having a free swing knee now as I used the Otto Bock 3R80 for running, but previous to this I did not really understand how important a correctly aligned socket is.

Glenn Johnstone, BTK Crossover
This leg not only works well but looks sooooo cool
The BTK as a starting point for walking was set with 10 psi in the shock and 4 clicks of the Red Dial, the Red Dial sets the amount of extension either faster or slower.

Eventually after some practice we experimented with a little more pressure, going up to 25 psi and alternating between 3 to 4 clicks for extension. At this point I was walking outside of the parallel bars. Like anything else it is just lots and lots of practice to get it down. I felt quite tired after my back and forth of the room, however wouldn't put this down to the knee, it was more I was concentrating so hard, in fact I should have switched off as you tend to walk batter when you don't over think it.

Pace Rehab, learning to walk,BTK Crossover
Proper concentrating
Oh and I was also going to mention the new foot Paul had supplied, to be honest I was so excited about the knee I kind of missed what model it was. I think it is an Ossur Pro Flex XC, but hey I could be wrong. What I can tell you is it was very comfortable to walk on and gave good feedback. I will take more note and update my blog when I am paying more attention lol

Paul equipped me with a rather thick instruction manual I didn't like to say I am more one of those guys who learns by doing rather than reading lol. I have however had a look through and it is very informative and explains everything well. Things like set up and info on ambulation, starting points, alignment and what pressure, rebound and compression for various sports.

Paul and Mike worked non stop throughout the day, only taking one short 20 minute break. We eventually got finished at 5:30 pm. The only real problem was the inner liner had developed a small leak through use with me running it had become weak. We all agreed it was not much use bringing the new limb away for testing at home. A plan was formulated and we agreed as the day had gone so well with fit and how I was doing that Paul and Mike would look at completing a new socket and get it couriered up to me to begin trying it out not only in walking but also testing the new Crossover on the bikes.

I am so looking forward to carrying on with the new BTK Crossover and sharing what it is like to use. This time around it's slightly different as the new knee will form part of my everyday life other than just sporting activities. I will be able to take wor Baxter out for a nice walk, then come home and within minutes and without taking the limb off be able to go out cycling. I am even looking at using the BTK for work which can be quite challenging. So it will be coming with me in my new role as a Rehabilitation Assistant.

A huge thank you to everyone over at Fabtech Systems and Pace Rehabilitation especially on the day Paul and Mike, sorry Mike I know you would have liked an earlier finish. Also to Matt and Bex from Arctic ONE  who have supported me over the last 3 years. My aim is to continue to give back as much as you all put in, you all do an amazing job.

Ooh and I must mention a big thank you to my dad, Ern and Claire for coming along and supporting me. They both had to get up really early 5:00 am, so it was a pretty long day. Think they both enjoyed the day, especially as it was my dads birthday, 76 years young. Claire even bought Ern a small cake and popped him some candles in and we sung him Happy Birthday.


  1. I am very proud of you, you are inspiring. Claire xx

  2. A great birthday present for me Glenn. Seeing you walking in the new Bartlett Crossover and knowing that it will enhance your life . My thanks to all involved in making this possible .(you know who you are)