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Pippa

Request for skiing, climbing, cycling advice?

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Hello everyone,

I've just registered with this site, so wanted to say its great to be on here and to have read some of the informative messages on the forum.

I lost my left leg - below knee - in a road traffic accident in May (van driver did a U-turn into me when I was riding my Vespa).

I've had a prosthetic leg since September and it has been so good to walk and drive again. Since my accident happened, I've never longed so much to run and keep having dreams I am running! I've been told it is too soon (and although I occasionally try, my prosthesis doesn't make it easy or comfortable, so probably have to be patient on this front).

I really want to exercise and get fit again (I'm 31) and am longing to go skiing, get back into climbing and cycling. Am also interested in exercise such as kickboxing, but will try and find local clubs that will take me on - and hope I don't accidentally kick anyone in the face with my new foot.

I wondered if anyone had info on skiing on a prosthetic leg. I spoke to one person about it who recommended adaptive skiing on one leg and using arms for balance and to help turn - holding poles with small skis on. I'm not sure I fancy that way of skiing and suspect it would be a lot harder to find resorts that do it. As I know very few amputees of a similar age to me, I was thinking of going skiing with a bunch of friends who have all their limbs, so I don't want to go anywhere where i have to have majorly special treatment. I wondered what, if any, skiing legs are available and how to get back into skiing again (I've skied in previous years, but that was when I had two fully functioning legs).

I would also love to get back into climbing - initially indoor climbing in London area - I haven't lived in London very long so am not sure where is good to go anyway, let alone where might be good to go for advice on how to overcome the lack of flexibility in the prosthesis and loss of tone in my thigh (which I hope I will regain, now I can start exercising more). Does anyone know if there are any special precautions / requirements / climbing clubs / climbing legs which might help, please?

Finally, does anyone know of anywhere to go for an adapted bike or where I could get my own bike adapted to help with the issue of my prosthetic leg not allowing full flexion of my knee (mainly due to prosthesis digging in at back of knee when I bend my leg)? Also, what do people find is the best way of keeping the prosthetic foot on the pedal - some kind of crampon style attachment might help, but not sure where to look?! And finally, can anyone recommend a good leg for cycling? Currently I am relying on the NHS, so I doubt they'd give me separate legs for cycling, skiing and climbing.

Sorry, just remembered one last question - does anyone have a swimming leg which is good for swimming? I find swimming quite hard now and was very self conscious when I went. I would love to be able to go on holiday again and swim in the sea, but given my lack of strength now, I would worry about that - does anyone have any advice?

Many thanks for taking the trouble to read this and for any suggestions anyone might have.

Best wishes

Philippa

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What a wonderful attitude.... I think that is the first thing you need to get all those things. Unfortunately I can't help you. I just wanted to say hi and way to go with that attitude and that I read your post. :) I hope to see you more often, and sharing your progress as you recover and all the cool things you are doing !!! :)

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Hi, Philippa, and welcome to the forum! You do have an excellent attitude going for you, and I think you'll eventually manage to figure out how to accomplish all your goals. I'm also a LBK, for almost five years now. I'm afraid that I'm not much help on the skiing and climbing fronts, but I might be of help with swimming advice. If you're "stuck" without a real specialty swim leg, you might want to try something really simple.

First of all, if you're generally young-and-fit, do give a try at swimming without a prosthesis. There are swim fins you can wear directly on your stump which can give you more of a "balanced" feeling in the water...and getting into the water is actually pretty easy. In my own case, I am still swimming in a pool, not the ocean, and I find it very simple to get into the water and swim...but it's hard for this old gal to get out of the pool one-legged! And so I've recently gotten a water-activity leg. It's very, very basic...the final version of my last test socket, a wooden foot, and a rust-free pylon and screws. No cosmetic covering...they tend to float. It's cheap enough that I could afford to pay for it myself, as my insurance plan only pays for one prosthesis...a standard walking leg. It's made a tremendous difference to me! I used to have to decide if the trouble of getting out of the pool was worth the pleasure of swimming...now I can just go swim and feel confident. (The water leg also seems to reassure the other swimmers, for some reason.)

If you haven't found the "cycling" threads here, do take a look around for them. We have some accomplished cyclists here. Some modify their cycles, some have a modified leg which is cut down further in the back of the knee. As to keeping the prosthetic foot on the pedal, there are all sorts of ways to go about it...the simplest being to velcro your shoe to the pedal, clear up through various styles of shoes, pedals, toe clips, and even clipless fasteners.

We also have both three-track and "standard" skiers among our members, so I'm sure someone will be able to answer your questions there!

Keep us posted on your progress! :smile:

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Hi, thank you both so much for your messages! I guess I might just have to try climbing and see what happens - and if I can cycle, with or without getting my bike adapted, I will try that too. As for skiing, I just can't wait to get some serious speed up - at least I have fewer bones to break (will take spare leg with me in case mine falls off and I lose it) and I reckon it'll be more of an adrenaline rush than ever. Will keep you posted once I've been - so hope I can get it organised for this year!

Thats great to hear about the swimming aids - glad they help you. I will look into a swimming fin. I managed to get out of a pool ok just by crawling (inelegantly, but i've been assured i've never been that elegant, always preferring speed over style!), but found swimming difficult as had lost so much strength and lacked a lot of power from leg, but guess i have to persevere and build up stamina and a new style.

Will take a closer look at the forum to see posts on cycling, thanks for letting me know.

Wow, that is really exciting about skiing possibilities - hopefully someone will get in touch at some point. I will also keep googling and youtubing to find some more answers and suggestions!

Thanks again so much. its lovely to hear from you both.

Take care and hopefully speak soon, Pippa x

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Hi Pippa

Might be of help.

Last year as part of our amputee user group, we did an organised indoor climb at a local climbing wall centre. We approached the staff to sound out the possibility of them accommodating a bunch of amputees, have to say they could not have been more helpful. The group consisted of both above and below knee amputees, of varying ages and abilities. The instruction was excellent the centre staff going out of their way to assist in whatever way possible, and by the end of a 2 hour session people who had never climbed before were scaling medium difficulty climbs. In fact a number of those have gone on to become members and now climb regularly with able bodied climbers. The one thing that became apparent was no special prosthesis was required just the correct climbing shoes for grip. I would suggest contacting your local climbing wall centre and having a chat, if they are half as good as ours were then you have no worries.

As part of our amps can do anything philosophy we are embarking on a disability skiing session. This will be at a local indoor ski slope utilising a number of technigues, ski's, snow boards and sit on ski's. Have a look at The British Ski Club for the Disabled http://www.bscd.org.uk/ Quite possible they may be able to help.

Lastly cycling ..... Nope not my thing at all ... now Motorcycling that is a different matter and I'm not giving my engine up for no one :biggrin:

Hope this is of some use

Mike

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Hi Mike,

Thanks very much for your post. Are you based in the UK and if so, I don't suppose it is anywhere near the north east of England or London area where you have arranged skiing/climbing? In a way I am reluctant to tell staff at climbing walls etc about my leg as worry they won't have come across it before and won't let me climb, but suspect I have to tell them for insurance purposes. I have my own climbing shoes which I hope might fit on my prosthetic foot - I might try to mould them in the oven. At present, my second foot with more flexi ankle for climbing is in hospital, awaiting a new socket, whilst my current foot is my first foot on my second leg - it has an adjustable ankle so I can wear heels - within reason - but I find it less springy for walking, so can't wait to get my second foot back! My current socket is getting too big, so I will wait until I get a new socket as I doubt I'd climb very well if my leg keeps twisting round in the socket and if my prosthesis feels as if it will fall off.

I will try the BSCD, thanks very much for that.

As for motorbikes, don't mention them to me, as I am tempted, but I'd feel pretty foolish if I were to lose another leg in another accident - I doubt my family and friends would be so supportive a second time round! So I am going to try to resist, for now - perhaps when the phantom pain dies down a bit and I forget what it is like to feel I am being electrocuted each day, I will relent and get a motorbike. But for now, cycling in parks is about as much as I want to risk as I don't trust other drivers any more.

Thanks again for your advice, it is really helpful and greatly appreciated.

Take care on your bike - watch out for transit vans is my advice!

Pippa

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Check out my threads on skiing. I can give you tons of info. You can see my attachement of me skiing on two skis.

ALL depends on your equipment my friend.

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Hi Mike,

Thanks very much for your post. Are you based in the UK and if so, I don't suppose it is anywhere near the north east of England or London area where you have arranged skiing/climbing? In a way I am reluctant to tell staff at climbing walls etc about my leg as worry they won't have come across it before and won't let me climb, but suspect I have to tell them for insurance purposes. I have my own climbing shoes which I hope might fit on my prosthetic foot - I might try to mould them in the oven. At present, my second foot with more flexi ankle for climbing is in hospital, awaiting a new socket, whilst my current foot is my first foot on my second leg - it has an adjustable ankle so I can wear heels - within reason - but I find it less springy for walking, so can't wait to get my second foot back! My current socket is getting too big, so I will wait until I get a new socket as I doubt I'd climb very well if my leg keeps twisting round in the socket and if my prosthesis feels as if it will fall off.

I will try the BSCD, thanks very much for that.

As for motorbikes, don't mention them to me, as I am tempted, but I'd feel pretty foolish if I were to lose another leg in another accident - I doubt my family and friends would be so supportive a second time round! So I am going to try to resist, for now - perhaps when the phantom pain dies down a bit and I forget what it is like to feel I am being electrocuted each day, I will relent and get a motorbike. But for now, cycling in parks is about as much as I want to risk as I don't trust other drivers any more.

Thanks again for your advice, it is really helpful and greatly appreciated.

Take care on your bike - watch out for transit vans is my advice!

Pippa

Hi Pippa,

To answer your questions, I have sent you a PM

Mike

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Hi Phillipa. You can do anything and any activity you want to, as long as you figure out how to adapt. I was on the Park City, UT ski team as soon as I was up after my amputation. I ski on two ski's without any help (actually I won quite a few races).

I wear a vacuum system, so I am always confident my leg is not going to come off. For my ski leg, I wear an HD harmony unit with the rotation taken out and an Axtion foot with the toes cut off so it will fit into my boot. The important thing, in my opinion for skiing, is that you are able to rotate your foot so that it is at a comfortable angle for skiing. This probably won't be comfortable for walking, so make a mark so you can rotate it back. That is, if you are using the same leg for walking and skiing. Just make sure to always have a 4mm wrench on you.

I rock climb with my wife and since she is handy, she is building me a couple climbing legs with old sockets. Currently, I use my regular everyday setup and do just fine climbing. Obviously, I favor my good side because I have more muscle there. If you are going to get a leg dedicated to climbing, I would suggest a foot that is short and stiff.

I don't do any heavy cycling, just regular riding a bike with my wife to get places or just up in the hills. I use my regular setup and don't have a problem. Practice makes perfect.

I don't swim heavily, I waterski competitively though. However, I don't use a prosthetic for this. Sorry I am not much help there.

I would suggest, if you have a choice, to get a vacuum socket. That way, you will be comfortable that your leg is not going to fall off at an inopportune moment.

Good luck. Like I said, you can do anything you want with the right attitude, you just have to figure out your way to adapt.

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Hi Pippa,

I'm not sure if you'll spot this post seeing as it's a couple of months after the last one.

Anyway, i've been an amp for 45 years and, untill i became a prosthetic technician, i allways had a wooden leg with a cuff strap and did everything on it including horse riding, water sking(rotted the leg though), roller blading, ice skating, and more and the foot i had is the cheapest on the market the good old SACH foot, cheap and nasty, the only movement is a little in the toe and a bit of give in the heel. When i wanted to ski(never done it before) i went with friends who were able bodied and got the same hire stuff they got then off for some lessons. I couldn't snow plow because the prosthesis wanted to go off on its own but found if i put both feet together i could turn and stop quite easily. Once i informed the instructor of my problem she put me directly into the advanced school and within 2 days i was sking all the intermediate runs on the mountain.

Interestingly, when i became a technician prosthetic companies like Otto Bock, Freedom, Osser, Flex Foot, gave me thier Dynamic feet for free to try out and give them feed back(knowing, of course that patients would be influenced by what i advice i gave). At the moment i have a College Park Venture foot and wouldn't walk in anything else, i also have a Flex Foot, and a Freedom Renegade which is brilliant if you want to run or play running sports like basket ball. Very dynamic feet which, the more you load, the more they feed back to you, but you've got to be fit. Anyway, the point i'm getting to is all this high end dynamic stuff that costs thousands will be useless to you for skiing or skating because i've tried them all and the old SACH foot wins hands down. All you need is a leg set up to how you walk normally with the SACH foot(Medium Density).

Your flexion problems with the limb digging into the back of your knee shouldn't happen, it means the trim lines on your socket are too high or there's bunching of socks or liners going on. Get your prosthetist to cut the Damn thing down. I ride bikes, i'm BK, and stand on the pegs like any ablebodied person does, no gadgets, flexion shouldn't be an issue.

All this stuff is about attitude and determination. I've allways believed that i can do what any ablebodied person can do and never looked for gadgets, the old wooden leg never let me down and after 35 years it is still servicable and fits like a glove.

So get you prosthetist to make you a ski leg set to normal walk with medium SACH foot and kneel on the floor infront of him untill he gets your trim lines right.

Good Luck PIppa,

REN.

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Check out these folks...I've known them for a couple years and they are all about getting a person up and "Doin' it!"

Adaptive Action Sports

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Hey there, I have a video of me skiing on here somewhere. I actually am an Adaptive Ski Instructor with the SEWASP organization. We teach cognitive and physically challenged folks how to ski.

I am an AKA and was told by my first CPO that I could not ski on two skis. After I promoted him to a customer, I did quite a bit of research and purchased a XT-9 knee. I have a C-leg for my walking leg (that I first skied on....don’t tell Otto) with a double wall electronic suction socket. I go from my walking leg, to my ski leg with one click and a push. Unless I ski with my pant leg up, nobody can tell I have a a prosthetic on.

The XT-9 is NOT a walking leg, but you can adjust it for Rock Climbing, Surfing, Wake Boarding, Cross and Downhill Skiing, Roller Balding and Water Skiing. For biking I put the C-Leg in my second mode which allows for a free moving knee.

Another good knee is the Endplate Mercury High Activity knee, although I broke mine on the first day in a yard sale spill on the slopes. It did work well prior to the spill. The Much knee from Oscar also allows for personal adjustments. The good thing about these knees is that both can be used for everyday walking also.

What I like about the XT-9, is the fact that it is a true energy storing knee and as you come out of a turn, you can feel your weight transition into the next turn. You are able to make all the knee adjustments yourself, as you can with the other two I mentioned.

No matter what knee you end up with, make sure you wear a heavy duty TES belt. I had a heavy spill this season and I freaked out the folks on the chairlift above when my leg turned 180 degrees.

Good luck!

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Captain KB,

Knowing you are a avid skier this question is right up your alley. How do you get a prosthetic foot into a ski boot? I had to search high and low just to get a snow boot to go over my sneakers. Does your sport foot angle so it can be slid into a ski boot? As any skier knows ski boots are not slippers! When/if I get back to the slopes I think I'll use just my own leg with outriggers but the information would be useful.

Jane

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Hi Jane,

I've never been skiing but do ride moto-x which means wearing similar style boots. Mt moto-x boots finish about 6 inches below my knee and use similar clips to ski boots. I found the easiest way to get the boots on was to open all of the clips unto give myself as much room as possible then slide a plastic bag over my foot before putting the boot on. It's amazing how much the plastic helps the foot slide in to the boot.

If that doesn't help then you might find you have to cut the tongue of the boot to increase the size of the opening for your foot. Ordinarily this would be a problem as it would ruin any waterproofing however does it really matter if your prosthetic foot gets a bit wet?

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