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Amputee Stories

Amputee and Disability Resources for Canadian Amputees

Amputee Story of Rob Purdon, Nordic Skier

As a way of introduction, I am 41, work for the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, am married with two daughters aged 9 and 6. My story so far:

I originally injured my left ankle due to a fall (4.5 m) in November 1998. A series of operations followed, culminating in a total ankle replacement in April, 2002.  My recovery was going fairly well until May, 2003, when the bone around the prosthetic joint began to degrade, resulting in the amputation of my left leg below my knee in September, 2003.

Following the surgery, I worked very hard at my recovery (I started walking with the PAM-Aid a week after the surgery).  I have been running on the treadmill for the last 2 months, and started nordic skiing (both skate and classic techniques) last weekend (5 months after the surgery).  I skied 5 km the first day, 8 km the second, then a couple of short skis this week.  I received my Otto Bock Advantage DP foot on Tuesday, and feel my confidence/agility improving daily.  I have a level of mobility that I have not enjoyed since my injury in 1998, and things couldn't be going better.  I am going to enter a 10 km family fun cross country ski race next week, and ramp-up running, mountain biking and ski-specific training over the summer.
I hope to compete in my age class in recreational races next year.

I am also an avid canoeist and white water kayaker, and although I haven't been able to do any white water since the accident, I plan on getting into my kayak again this summer.  We have some short family flatwater canoe trips already lined up.

I have to confess that I am at a bit of an advantage over some amputees -  I had known since 1998 that amputation was a possibility, and had the summer of 2003 to prepare for it.  I have been able to be very positive, energetic and motivated throughout my recovery - indeed I have a level of mobility which I have not enjoyed for some time.  I have set small, incremental goals, and have captialized on consistent success.  This keeps motivation
and energy elevated resulting in a positive energy feedback.
UPDATE: SEPT 2005
The good news - less than a year after my amputation (less than 6 months to be correct) I entered and skied in a 10 km race. My time was reasonable for classic technique at just over 1 hour, considering the timeframe from amputation to skiing.

The bad news - just before Christmas in '04, I slipped on the ice with my prosthetic and fractured <you guessed it> my good ankle, thereby writting off an entire ski season.

Following my recovery from this injury, I have taken up Karate (Isshin-Ryu) and will be tested for my first (yellow) belt at the end of September. My mobility is great, I went on a 5 day wilderness canoe trip with my wife and two daughters last week, and continue to be extremely optimistic about my capabilities.

This fall will see me focusing on fitness through karate and cardiovascular training, and you will see me skiing once again when the snow comes.

Cheers!

Earle Connor is The 2004 Laureus Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability

Earle Connor is proving to be a champion for the 21st century. In 2000, he won gold and silver medals at the Sydney Paralympic Games, where he also set a world record in the men's 100 meters T42 event. In 2001 he racked up three more world track records.  Connor had one spectacular summer in 2003 when he broke four world records:  the 100 meters (12.14 secs), 200 meters (26.66 secs) and 400 meters (1 min 7.32 secs) on the same day in Germany.  Six days later, in Milan, he lowered his own 200 meters record to 26.40 secs.
Now he's won the 2004 Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability Award. That puts him in the same class of athlete as Tiger Woods, Marion Jones, Lance Armstrong, Jennifer Capriati and Pele, whom Laureus had previously recognized.
But unlike those inspiring athletes, Connor has become a winner with the help of 21st century technology.  Having undergone surgical amputation above the knee when he was just three months old, Earle has been running on a Flex-Foot® Flex-Sprint prosthetic foot and wearing a Ceterus prosthetic foot for everyday use.  Both feet are made by Ossur, which has been sponsoring Earle since 1999, as well as a team of exceptional athletes, talented performers and professionals from around the world, who excel in their chosen sport or career.  Team Ossur members include Marlon Shirley, the world's fastest amputee, who broke the 11 second barrier last summer by running the 100 meters event in 10.97 seconds, and Paul Martin who, on successive weekends competed in the Ironman in Hawaii; the Xterra World Championships on Maui; the San Diego Triathlon Challenge in California; and the Triathlon World Championships in Cancun, Mexico.
Connor's talent was never in question. He was involved in able-bodied sports until the age of 21, and was the first amputee ever drafted into an able-bodied junior hockey league. Then "while watching the 1996 Paralympics, I saw the finishing time of the athlete who came in eighth in a track and field event and was convinced I could beat it," he says. 
Sure that he could compete at that level, two weeks later Connor packed his bags and drove the 3,000 miles from his home in Saskatoon, Canada, to Hamilton, Ontario to train. He eventually settled in Calgary where he currently lives. He still trains four to five hours a day, and works as a personal trainer helping others achieve their goals.
Connor credits prosthetic technology for helping him to attain his own goals. Over the years he'd used all types of prosthetic feet, from those with only the basic elements to the superior designs and engineering available from Ossur today. "In the next 10 years, I know that amputees like me will have prostheses with even greater benefits," he says.
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