Vernon Leigh – Regained confidence with a C-Leg
“When I was aged nine, I was diagnosed with polio, which resulted in my left leg being subsequently amputated in 1959. But it didn’t stop me leading a full and active life, until recently that is”.
Despite being an established prosthesis user, Vernon realised that in recent years, he was suffering more and more falls. He explained, “It would be sod’s law that I would end up on the floor in the most public of places”. He added, “In addition to the embarrassment, I’d often hurt myself in the process. I injured my arms and even my face. My confidence was taking a battering. I was doing less and less and was starting to become reclusive”.
As a keen motorcyclist and active fundraiser and member of his local Masonic Lodge for many years, Vernon wasn’t prepared to accept this as his lot, so made an appointment to see the Consultant at his NHS Centre, to discuss his prosthetic provision. Vernon recalled, “I was advised that a C-Leg would considerably reduce my falls. I said ‘Great, can I have one then please?’ But I was told that due to budget constraints, it wouldn’t be possible”.
Undeterred, Vernon did some research for himself and spoke to the C-Leg manufacturer, Otto Bock. He discovered, to his delight, that another NHS Centre had provided C-legs. Despite the Centre being a considerable distance from his home in Cheadle, he asked his consultant if he could transfer his treatment to there. Vernon recounted, “He said I could. Again, I thought ‘Great!” But he then explained that because the funding would be coming from my local (same) Primary Care Trust, a C-Leg would still not be provided. It was so maddening!”
Frustrated by the whole situation, Vernon turned to Pace Rehabilitation for prosthetic support. For financial assistance, he approached the Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF), a grant making health and care charity that supports Freemasons and their dependants, as well as non-Masonic medical research charities.
The MSF’s Grant Director and Deputy CEO John McCrohan explained, “For many years we have supported our beneficiaries living with amputations and research projects that hope to improve the support we are able to offer. In Vernon’s circumstance, we were delighted to have been able to fund the Otto Bock C-Leg, which for him is a robust and sustainable way to compensate for the loss of a limb”.
Pace Prosthetist Howard Woolley carried out the clinical assessment of Vernon and his existing prosthetic provision. As he recalls, “There were a number of improvements that could be made, including the introduction of a microprocessor knee. This would provide Vernon with a level of security, safety and confidence that he was currently lacking.”
Clinical activity began, as Vernon recounts, “I felt so well looked after. The attention to detail in producing the prosthetic socket was the ultimate in care and resulted in a very comfortable socket. Essential as any amputee will agree”.
Beneath the diagnostic socket, Howard incorporated a rotator unit, which allows the user to change a shoe, or to don/doff clothing, without the need to remove the prosthesis. The C-Leg (Compact) unit was then carefully aligned and calibrated to Vernon’s requirements.
Using the Bluetooth connection, Howard fine-tuned the settings, as Vernon became more confident with his new provision. A delighted Vernon said, “My NHS consultant was absolutely right, the C-leg is a much safer knee. Now that I finally have one, my confidence is returning!”
For Vernon to maximise his potential from the sophisticated device, Pace Physiotherapist, Carolyn Hirons, identified that intensive physiotherapy and gait training would be required. So, Vernon attended regular physiotherapy sessions, with Carolyn putting him through his paces. As he said, “Although I think she is a sadomasochist, the physiotherapy has been so beneficial. It has meant that my original goal of being able to walk unaided, without a fear of falling, has become a reality.”
Carolyn added, “Not only was his new prosthesis very different to his previous provision, by his own admission, Vernon has acquired some bad habits during his fifty-three years as an amputee”, continuing, “Due to his Polio, his left side is weaker. Consequently, he has developed compensatory movements, but we’ve worked hard to improve his gait and symmetry and he is doing very well indeed.”
Soon after taking delivery of the finished prosthesis, Vernon was delighted to report a regained confidence. He said, “I’ve started to find my feet again, no pun intended! I’ve been able to return to my passion of restoring vintage bikes, with my brother. We’re currently working on a 650cc BSA Gold Star, which is one of fourteen bikes we bought. So we’ll be in the garage for a while!”
As a member of the Mason’s Motorcycle Club, Vernon has returned to regularly dons his leathers & helmet and enjoying the Cheshire countryside aboard his Yamaha sidecar combination.
Vernon summarised his experiences with his recent prosthetic provision, “Without the funding from the Masonic Samaritan Fund, I would be in a wheelchair by now. I can honestly say that thanks to their financial support and to Pace’s outstanding rehabilitation services and care, together they have significantly contributed to the quality of my life, for which I am incredibly grateful.”