Posted by LimbPowerAdmin on Thursday 8th September 2016
Back in 1999, while out on his motorcycle in his home town in Gloucestershire, Andy Lewis was hit by a 38 tonne articulated lorry which left him with a disfigured leg. Andy has since overcome countless obstacles and is on his way to Rio to compete at the Paralympics.
Andy was only sixteen when the accident happened and like many sixteen year olds had dreams about where his life would go. Andy had set his sights on a career in the British Parachute Regiment and had started training to ensure he was in peak form. But in an instant his dream was left in tatters when he lost the use of his leg in the accident, along with the ability to do the activities he loved. Andy had some difficulty adjusting to this and became an emotional wreck. As a result Andy suffered with depression, something which he has no problem admitting to.
After five years and multiple infections Andy made the difficult decision to have his leg amputated, a decision he questioned many a time. He was then faced with the task of finding the right prosthesis which would suit his lifestyle. Andy, being an active guy, wanted a knee with a good range of motion. Having tried a number of products from various manufacturers which just weren’t right he was then introduced to the Ottobock 3R106 knee joint; a lightweight product with a generous flexion angle. Andy said, “The range of movement in my Ottobock knee gave me the freedom and the mobility to feel human again”. It enabled Andy to kneel with relative ease and after mastering the pneumatic system was also able to walk without too much difficulty. Because it was lightweight and had a good flexion angle it was also perfectly suited to allow Andy to use it to ride his bike.
Having improved his mobility Andy quickly revived his love for fitness and running. Andy therefore needed a prosthetic leg which could withstand the wear and tear involved with running and invested in an Ottobock 3S80 knee joint; a hydraulic knee specifically designed to meet the needs of high speed running. It combines with a 1E90 Sprinter Foot that is able to withstand the impact of running due to a durable carbon spring. Andy now enjoys an active lifestyle and represents GB in international triathlons. He has won numerous medals including his most recent accomplishment of being crowned ITU Paratriathlon world champion. Andy said, “Without the Ottobock service and products I have identified with I wouldn’t be where I am today”.
Andy now considers himself a different person, but having found the right products which suited his needs has helped him and his family come closer together and explains, “It is a difficult thing to deal with when you lose a part of you, but after I was given my leg back it made a massive difference”.
Despite not being able to realise his dream of joining the British Parachute Regiment, Andy has achieved other feats he had not even dreamed of. “We never know what life will throw at us but what matters is how you deal with it and this experience has given me the strength to believe in myself”.
Andy is now keen to help others, “It means a lot to me to be able to show people what they can achieve if they want to. My advice to those thinking about undergoing amputation or getting a limb would be to collect as much information as possible and talk to other amputees to see what their views are. Those who make them know what they are doing but to get a ‘real’ experience speak to other amputees. But most importantly never give up and believe in yourself; if you don’t, who else will?”
Andy’s Ottobock 3R106, which he uses both as his ‘everyday leg’ and for cycling when competing in triathlons, is a pneumatic knee joint which is a lightweight product with a 170° flexion angle that was designed for a moderately active lifestyle. Its large knee flexion angle makes it possible to kneel and provides a more natural gait even at different walking speeds.
Andy was originally fitted with the Ottobock sports prosthesis back in 2013, which he uses for running. It consists of an Ottobock 3S80 knee joint that combines with a 1E90 Sprinter Foot. The 3S80 is the only sport and fitness knee joint designed for above-knee amputees. It enables users to run on a variety of terrain from sand to track giving them the freedom to run how they want, where they want. He has since had his 3S80 knee joint upgraded to the 3S80=1; a version that uses a hydraulic oil that is less viscous for a smoother-running movement making it perfectly suited for athletes.
Andy’s current focus is on the on the 2016 Paralympics in Rio.