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Suzy

TIN SOLDIER NEEDS ADVICE

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I am not sure if this is the correct place to post this, however, no doubt someone will correct me if I am wrong. John & I have a friend who is a below knee amputee on his left leg and has lost the foot on his right leg. At present he is in a military rehab centre learning to walk on his artificiall limbs and doing very well.

He is halfway through an 8 week stay and is looking to getting home. Home is an adapted bungalow as he uses a wheelchair when not using his limbs. Anyway, he is looking to purchase equipment of his own instead of what he has at present.

1. What sort of wheelchair should he go for - with our without armrests? He has been looking at Quickie which has no armrests but some amputees have been giving him differing opinions.

2. What about swimming? Would he need special limbs for that? At present when showering he does not wear limbs just transfers onto a a special stool.

Any other tips that you can give would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for your help on this. I am sure once he has recovered sufficiently he will post here to thank you himself.

Suzy & John

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Hi Suzy & John

First things first, get him out of the wheelchair and onto crutches.

Wheelchair is a last resort. In a chair he will lose all muscle strength and confidence.

Get him swimming as much as possible. Front crawl wearing a snorkel will build up his upper body strength. Being a soldier he should have plenty of that?

The British Army have their own amputee organisation http://www.blesma.org/ I'm sure the US will have the same. :)

If he's not a soldier then there are many organisations that will be able to offer help, many through this board. The fitter he is, the faster he will walk un-aided, rowing machines are great for building up the heathier limb.

PJ :)

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What sort of wheelchair should he go for - with our without armrests? He has been looking at Quickie which has no armrests

Quickie's do have armrests, Suzy - I have one - but I wouldn't describe them as substantial.

If you're bilateral, you have different needs with & without your prostheses, so if I were your friend, I would wait until I had my definitive prostheses & then get assessed by an OT or a physio to see if he needs a wheelchair, & if he does, what sort he needs.

I'm bilateral & I don't use swimming legs - to tell you the truth it's bliss not having to wear the limbs! And, I agree that front crawl builds up your upper body...but, what's all this about a snorkel, Paul? You don't need a snorkel! :)

Lizzie

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Thanks for the replies so far. He is a UK soldier by the way. So, have made a note of BLESMA.

As regards the wheelchair. He has been told that he will require one in order to get around the house at night if he is not wearing his limbs - at present he wears them from first thing to goingto bed. If getting up in the night to the loo - he does not use a chair - he crawls!

Could someone out there tell us what they do? Is it necessary to have a wheelchair on standby in case something goes wrong with your limbs?

Thanks for the replies.

Suzy

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Hi Suzy

Am I reading it right that your friend has lost both legs, making him a bilateral b/k.

If that is right, I would suggest that he holds on to any NHS wheelchair he has been given for the time being, whilst getting used to the limbs initially and ironing out any probs. with them he will be able to remain more independent with a chair. As a bilateral below knee myself, do often crawl around on them, but that can take its toll on the knees if you are doing it continually. Once he prob. gets fixed up with a pair of limbs, he will prob. get a spare pair in case they break down.

I myself had no need of a chair after about 6 months, but then I was a teenager, and had my mum as back up, for when I wasn't wearing the limbs. In recent years I have purchased a wheelchair myself, this is because I am a mum myself now and have to get on with things, however, wouldn't necessarily advise going out spending money on a chair which he may not use much. But if looking for a chair, look if its adaptive for when he is wearing his limbs ie. fixed or non fixed footrests etc. and also for not wearing limbs, in terms of balance etc. if he is bilateral he also needs to think about anti tippers. I am sure he would get advice about this sort of thing at his rehab centre.

Swimming is excellent, some people use swimming legs, but I myself didn't bother, I am not a great swimmer, but I was fine.

I am sure your friend will do fine.

Ann

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I agree with everything Ann said & also add that as your friend is a bilateral amp, there

is a problem with 'chairs' tipping backwards. Along with anti-tippers, the back wheels of the chair can be moved towards the back of the wheelchair frame - to provide greater stability. Of course, it does mean that it's harder to propel yourself!

Lizzie

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[

but, what's all this about a snorkel, Paul? You don't need a snorkel! :)

Hi Lizzie

A snorkel allows you the feedom to swim and exercise without trying to control your bouyancy. Many amps that start swimming spend more time worrying about balance and floating, that will come back. Best to get in the water with a shortie and a snorkel and get fit!

If you just what fun and a splash then no worries, I strongly advice a wet shoe or dive boot for grip around the pool. I use crutches to the pool side, getting to the floor and onto my bum before entering the water. I have taken my daughters every week for 5 years never asking for help other than getting me soap in the shows!

Some pools have issues with snorkels, but if you speak with the management they are usually only to pleased to help.

PJ

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Sorry Suzy

I had'nt read the post that well, obviously as a bilateral b/k, the wheelchair is a must, but I would recommend a shortie & mask & snorkel for swimming. I hope the pool in your area can lend support, sorry for confusion and best of luck to him

PJ :)

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Hi Paul

Our pool doesn't allow snorkels or face masks, at all!

It's a good idea to use a snorkel to start with (I hadn't actually thought of using one before), & then you can progress onto using the old front crawl breathing techniques which would help improve your balance - you need to concentrate on your balance if you're bilateral.

Lizzie :)

PS Nice piccie - hope you didn't go swimming especially! ;)

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As has already been mentioned, I'd recommend joining BLESMA as they will advise on all aspects of rehab and life as an amputee and can often put him in touch with other Service organisations (I'm a member myself).

The choice of wheelchair is very much a personal thing. No one can really advise which is the best for you. He could start by getting a referal to the local NHS wheelchair service. They can offer some advice as well as the chance to try out some of the models. I've managed to get a slightly lighter chair via that route but held back from asking for more as I believe that should I need something better it's down to my "assailants" insurance company to cough up rather than the taxpayer. Personally I couldn't wait to get out of the chair and haven't used it since getting my prosthesis. It is kept for emergency use though and I wouldn't advise getting rid of it as it could be difficult to get a replacement in the future. Definitely check what is freely available first though before spending a fortune on a super duper lightweight titanium doorstop or computer chair ;)

Swimming, definitely a good thing. As you've probably realised not everyone uses a swim leg (I do :)) but he should be able to get one or two in his case via the NHS or if he's still treated by the Army, by them.

... and tell him, next year we want to see a picture of him on the Remembrance Day parade ;)

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I agree, Muz, whether to use a wheelchair or not is a personal thing. And I disagree, Paul, that it will make you lose strength and confidence. If you ONLY used the wheelchair, you would definitely lose your strength. I could not use crutches or a prosthesis for many months after my amp because of damage in my "good" foot and leg so I had to use a wheelchair but I also went to physical therapy during this time to maintain strength. I don't believe I was less confident for having used the chair. Rather, I couldn't wait til I didn't have to use it all the time. Even now, when the leg comes off I use the chair. For a time, I thought maybe I was kind of a failure because of that but I have since decided that we do whatever it takes to get along in the world. I learned to use crutches a few months ago but to me they are somewhat inconvenient. You can't hold anything in your hand(s) while using them and when you're in the wheelchair you always have a lap. I also feel there's a greater risk of falling while on crutches. I hope to someday be wheelchair free but it may always be a necessity of sorts.

My chair is titanium and took the foot rests, arm rests and tip bars off!! I needed it to be as light as possible so I could get it in the car by myself before I got my pros!

It really is a personal decision. Whatever works best for you is what you should use.

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Hi Sue.........

A bit late posting here.

What sort of wheelchair should he go for

NOT what they recommend. He should do a lot of personal research first.....then decide.

He should "look" at himself down the road per sec.

I have several lyong around the garage collecting dust. I use solely a Quickie Ti which is as small as possible, strips down fast and is quite easy to self load in a vehicle. No arm rests, no tippy bars........just wheels

ED

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