At Flexyfoot, we like nothing better than hearing from our customers about how they use their walking aids. Every single person has a different story to tell, so we decided to get in touch with a couple of our customers and find out more about how they came about needing a walking aid, and what Flexyfoot has meant to them.
Below is the first star of our case studies, Daphne Rose, who told us all about her ‘life after amputation’…
Daphne Rose, 60 from Woodbridge was born with Congenital Proximal Femoral Focal Deficiency (PFFD), a rare birth defect that affects the pelvis, hip and proximal femur. The condition meant she was born with one leg shortened and caused Daphne considerable pain and discomfort in her lower back. At the age of 19, in 1974, Daphne underwent three operations, osteotomy, arthrodesis and amputation to remove her leg in the hope it would improve her mobility, which it did. As age (and weight gain) has caught up with her, the struggle to get around was exacerbated by a prosthesis which was very heavy and difficult to use well. So her physiotherapist recommended the use of walking aids to provide additional support. Then one day, Daphne stumbled across Flexyfoot and has never looked back. We caught up with her to hear more about her story.
FF. Having your leg amputated at such a young age must have been a real challenge for you to contend with?
DR. Due to the nature of my condition, I’d worn a prosthesis which had no knee joint, since I was able to walk but suffered with severe back pain because of it. I was offered surgery to remove the lower part of my leg at the age of 10 but in those days, things were quite different and the surgeon was really condescending when he spoke to me about my surgery options so I declined. By the time I had the surgery at 19, I had accepted it and knew it was my best chance of a more comfortable and mobile life.
FF. How did the surgery impact on you?
DR. The surgery effectively left me with an above the knee amputation, which meant at last I could have a prosthesis with a knee joint. I have had various types of legs and knees over the years, culminating in an hydraulic knee which was brilliant for several years. I have always had to have crutches available; in case of problems with the prosthesis. I still own the same pair today that I was given in 1974 although it’s fair to say they’re retired of their duties these days. I have always tried to live life to the full, and it hasn’t stopped me doing the things that I love; I trained firstly as a teacher, and then I held various positions as a civil servant and in the Post Office. Although I was medically retired at 36, I’m still quite active and love narrow boating holidays with my husband and our dog, Rufus. I can even ride a motorbike although my husband has put a stop to that, he says: “You’ve only got one leg as it is, if you lose the other you won’t have a leg to stand on!” I guess I have to give him that one.
FF. So have you been able to find a prosthetic that works properly for you now?
DR My hydraulic leg just got too heavy and cumbersome as I have got older, and I was asked to trial a new type of knee that has been designed for more active amputees, such as the war veterans, of which there are sadly far too many these days. Over the last year, I’ve been in and out of hospital to have various prosthetics fitted but nothing has meant I can walk without an aid. I’m still holding out hope but am determined that even without the perfect prosthesis, I’ll remain active and independent. That’s really why discovering Flexyfoot has made such a difference to my life. Initially I had the Flexyfoot ferrules which made a dramatic difference to my walking; I found I was so much more stable on my feet. Then I heard Flexyfoot had launched this flash new walking stick and thought “I’ll give that a go”.
It wasn’t long before I discovered that Flexyfoot was bringing out a set of crutches too. Some days when my mobility is particularly reduced, I need to use crutches and because of the huge success I’d had with other Flexyfoot products, before I even saw what they looked like, I ordered a pair. The pain in my shoulders and arms has been greatly improved. This part of your body is not used to bearing weight in the same way your feet, ankles and knees are so the additional cushioning is what really helps. The shock absorbency is a real plus and in turn this supports better balance. I have to take extra care of my back with my condition, due to the misalignment of my pelvis and hip, and my Flexyfoot aids have really helped to reduce the overall strain.
FF. It sounds like you’re quite a fan. We’re pleased you approve. If you were a Flexyfoot designer and could change anything about Flexyfoot products, what would it be?
DR. Well, like many women, colour coordinating my accessories is important and I typically wear autumnal colours so my Flexyfoot aids actually complement my wardrobe pretty well. I wouldn’t mind a green stick though. To me, the comfort and stability factor is second to none but I would quite like a little torch in the handles of my ….crutches. That would be pretty useful and rather fun.
I do tell everybody I come across at the hospital, and around my local area, if I see them with a stick or crutches about how great Flexyfoot is and show them how much easier it is to walk with them. They’re sometimes new amputees and having been there, I wish Flexyfoot had already been designed and somebody could have done that for me back then. I am also finding that even “old timers” are very interested in hearing about Flexyfoot. I think I ought to carry a few cards to give out!
With thanks to Daphne for her time. She has chosen to donate some Flexyfoot to a hard working physiotherapist supporting prosthesis, Sue Flute at Colmon Hospital.