Last week saw the 8th edition of the annual PACE Rehab conference. This year’s topic was „Beyond the Clinic Room – Outcomes in The Real World“. The conference was all about transforming patients’ lives and enabling them to live an active life. Something that has been close to my heart for years, and a theme that has been the leading light for this blog from the very beginning. As it happened the event fell onto the very day that marks the 13th anniversary of my amputation. So it was a nice surprise to learn that a picture of me and my little one was chosen to head the invitations, the poster and program for the day.
As most of you know, I am a strong advocate of bringing a fresh wind with a more personal touch and a wider personal choice to the prosthetic world. Artificial limbs and other prosthetic devices do not need to be skin-coloured boring tools that are designed according to purely practical considerations. So since the start of The Active Amputee I have regularly featured companies that broke new ground, provided prosthetic covers and enabled people with limb differences to develop their personal style and proudly wear their artificial limbs in public. I would like to introduce U-Exist to you, a creative company from France that adds its vision and voice to the ever growing movement of personalized prosthetic devices.
Here is my interview with Mrs. Cindy Habchi, responsible for social media within the U-Exist team.
Taking the plunge into a new business venture can be daunting in some respects, especially when you have a disability. However, with a couple clever strategies and some handy tools, you can successfully navigate the transition into a new career. Plus, delving into the world of entrepreneurship offers several noteworthy benefits to those who are disabled such as:
If your interest is peaked, here’s how to get started in your pursuit of success!
I am pretty steadfast in my belief that the body is self-organizing and self-healing given the right conditions. Mind you, knowing those conditions is another thing. I had to let go of “why” this was happening and “what else can I do”. Interestingly, when I began to explore the option to amputate, some incredible experiences “appeared” in my life.
On May 20, 2018 a group of determined, inspirational people set off on an amazing challenge to become the first amputees to climb Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales.
Amy, a young woman from Nashville has a soft spot for sarcasm, coffee, and fitness. A few years ago, she discovered her love for boxing, almost by accident. Here is her story.
As you all know I set up The Active Amputee to provide information, to share inspiration and to create a community. And these last weeks have been amazing in terms of creating a community and
creating new collaborations with people far and wide. Here is just a quick run down of all the new relationships I am so excited about.
As part of my cooperation with yoocan, I would like to share the story of Lisa Ludwig. Lisa was diagnosed with cancer at an early age. While the osteosarcoma took her leg, it never took her spirit and positive attitude. Several years later she is an active mentor to other cancer patients and amputees and - for some time - had taken up the role as brand ambassador for a company that produces prosthetic covers.
Who would have thought that lats week’s article - A simple introduction into paraclimbing as an above knee amputee - will be greeted by such a positive response. After the post went live on Wednesday, it took only minutes until the first reactions, additional questions, comments and thank you notes started coming in. Wow, that is great. I really wasn’t expecting that.
Climbing is an amazing sport. Full stop. No matter if you are into bouldering or top-roped routes at a local climbing wall, prefer pre-bolted sport routes outdoors or love the thrill of proper multi-pitch trad climbing or a deep-water solo, the sport has something for everybody. And I mean everybody, no matter if you are able-bodied (what ever that is) or not.
All of you know that I am an above the knee amputee. Most of you know that I am an outdoor enthusiast with a passion for the hills and mountains. And some of you know that I have been a regular visitor to Nepal and had the chance to hike in the foothills of the Himalayas. So you can imagine how thrilled I that Nepal’s Tourism Board has just announced its first accessible trekking path in one of the country’s most breathtaking regions: Pokhara. The 1.2 kilometer trail is fully wheelchair accessible, is equipped with handrails and additional facilities are soon to come. Visitors are greeted by the stunning panorama across the Annapurna and Manaslu range.
I got into motorbikes as a teenager as it was a good, cheap mode of transport to get to college, work and to see my girlfriend who lived in the next town.
I quickly got bigger bikes until December 26, 1988 when I was hit on a straight and clear bit of road by a newly licensed driver turning across in front of me. The accident resulted in a
traumatic through knee amputation of my right leg and near death due to blood loss. After surgery I ended up with a transfemoral amputation and after eleven days I was home wondering what to do
The newest high-tech prosthesis is of little use if it is not well connected to your body. Over and over again the socket proved to be the weakest link that can be the make it or break it point determining the activity level of an amputee. And as our bodies change over time, so do our demands towards this connections between our residual limb and our prosthetic device. Working with a liner system combined with a movable seal-ring is one of the options we have to create a well-fitting socket with a strong vacuum suction.
It has been more than a year since I started The Active Amputee. In the initial months I was guided by three leading themes.
With all of this done, it was finally time to think about a logo. And after a lot of to and from, of designs being drawn up and binned, of font types being tried out, changed, ridiculed, praised and changed again, I have finally settled on my new logo. Et voilà: Here it is.
Dreaming big - and making it happen. Imagine a time and place where many amputees, possibly hundreds of them, come together from different parts of the world. They come together for a common purpose. Simply to enjoy health & fitness activities including Sports, Yoga, Dance, all movement arts etc. There are no awards, no medals, no validation of your participation. The experience is its own reward. That is exactly what Sanjay Arora is working on.
I asked you all „What makes you happy as an amputee?“. And within minutes the answers came flowing in. Here they are.
Having just finished my first kids book about elephants I discovered the story about Mosha, the elephant who lost her leg due to a land mine and was fitted with a prosthetic limb. Being an amputee myself this was something I had to see for myself.
I am a great fan of podcasts. No matter if I am in my car to pick up the kids, in the kitchen preparing dinner or working out in the evening, I normally listen to podcasts. And among my favorite ones are TED talks. TED talks are such a great combination of brilliant info, inspirational journeys and though provoking daring big picture thinking. Here are twelve TED talks every amputee should listen to.
I have never been too interested in team sports. People who have been following this blog for some time know that I love to be active in the outdoors. Hiking, kayaking, climbing - that is my world. Enjoying a day out in mother nature, challenging myself, exploring the world around me, one place at a time, that’s what makes me happy. And more often than not, I do this by myself. Quality me-time, so to speak. Time to let the mind wander (and wonder); time to recharge my batteries; time to get into a different headspace and come up with new and creative ideas for my day job and the various projects I run. Having said all that there is one exception to my „I have never been too interested in team sports“. And that is sitting volleyball.
As you all know, I have teamed up with yoocan to share stories of people with limb differences, increase the reach off these stories and inspire people all around the world to live an active, rewarding and fulfilling life. Today’s story is by Sarah Stump from Imperfectly Sarah, the story of a one armed girl in a two armed world.
Pace Rehabilitation and The Active Amputee have teamed up to increase the reach of high quality information to amputees, enabling them to make well informed decisions in relation to their limb loss. Today’s article on osseointegration kicks of our collaboration. Over the coming months I will regularly share information provided by the experts from Pace Rehabilitation.
Monday May 26, 2014. That was the day I truly knew, I was capable of living the life ahead of me-whatever I wanted that to be. It was the day I was fitted with my first prosthetic leg. It was the day I took my first steps on the leg. It was the day I got back into a pool. It was the day I took time to wear make up again. Needless to say, it was a busy day.
I love being outdoors. Always have. And this love for being physically active in the great outdoors did not change when I became an amputee. I regularly go hiking in the hills (and less regularly in the mountains). I know that being out in the hills far away from any assistance if the need arises can be a scary thought. At the same time and if done right it can be an immensely rewarding experience that helps to develop new skills and increase confidence to be an active and mobile above knee amputee.
Erin Ball has been studying and training in circus arts for over ten years. Several years later, she began coaching. In 2014, Erin became a double below knee amputee (her story featured on this page in early May of 2017; read the full story here). Her circus practice changed, and eventually her teaching did as well. Erin has since worked with many amputees to achieve their dreams of exploring aerial arts. Eventually, Flying Footless, a course for aerial coaches of lower limb amputees, was born.
In the cooperation with yoocan, I regularly share inspiring stories from people with limb differences that have originally been published on the yoocan page. Today we hear from Kristy, am amputee from Missouri who is now a household name in the often male-dominated lifted truck scene.
The age of the off-the-shelf look for artificial limbs is slowly coming to an end. With significant advancements in 3D printing technology in recent years a number of companies are now offering stylish prosthetic covers. Emelie from Anatomic Studios in Malmö/Sweden tells us more about the company and their approach to assisting amputees to find their personal style.
„After all the highs and lows in the past four years I’ve learned to accept this amputation that I can’t change“, says Dave Klar. „I accept limitations but knock down perceived boundaries of people with a ‚disability‘!“
Up early, grabbing a quick breakfast while fixing some food for the trip. Getting all the gear ready, checking the weather forecast and Magic Seaweed to get an idea about the waves, the wind, and when the tidal times. It all looks perfect. So the Welsh coast it is, one of Europe’s most stunning coastal areas.
When you are living the life of your dreams in the middle of the Amazon rainforest and then the unimaginable happens. You are attacked by an alligator. That is what happened to Deise Nishimura. She fought for her life and survived. And after her having recovered she returned to the place she loved: The Amazon. Here is her amazing story.
What a nice surprise: I have been featured in Rob and Michelle’s Outdoor Adventure Blog as the Person of Adventure for the week starting April 30, 2018. „Thanks Rob & Michelle!“
You find the link to the full interview here. Enjoy!
My story started when I was 15 years old. And although the diagnosis from back then has little relevance for my life today, those days have had an immense impact on me - also in a positive way. Those days have shaped me and made me who I am today. From one day to the next my life changed completely. Suddenly nothing was as it used to be.
Meine Geschichte beginnt als ich15 Jahre alt war. Auch wenn die damalige Diagnose keine große Relevanz mehr in meinem Leben hat, hat mich diese Zeit extrem geprägt und verändert – und das auch positiv – und hat einen großen Einfluss darauf, wer ich heute bin. Von einen auf den anderen Tag hat sich mein Leben komplett verändert. Plötzlich war nichts mehr wie es mal war.
Just a quick one today. Regular visitors to The Active Amputee will remember the story of Malvika Iyer. Her story was featured as one of the first guest posts on this page. Malvika lost both her hands in a bomb-blast when she was a teenager. Her road to recovery was tough. But then again Malvika is not someone to give up easily. With immense willpower and the never-ending support of of mother she managed to not just finish school, but do so as one of the best students in her year. Malvika went on to study and recently got her Ph.D. degree. She is an outspoken disability rights activists, a TED speaker, a member of the United Nations Inter-Agency Network on Youth Development, a model for accessible fashion and so much more. She was recently awarded the Nari Shakti Puraskar Award, the highest award for women civil society actors from the President of India. And just recently her incredible story has been turned into a graphic novel: MAI - A Graphic Novel by Sriram Jagannathan.
I'm not sure how many times I have been called inspirational in my life. If I was given a penny for every time, I'd have a mansion by now. The word makes me hugely uncomfortable and I know I'm not the only one who is differently-abled or different that feels this. For this article, I decided to dig a bit deeper and work out why I feel the way I do.
The Active Amputee recently engaged in a new partnership with yoocan, a global collaborative community for and by people with disabilities. We join hands to share more inspiring stories by amazing people with a wider audience. Expect a new article from this cooperation about once a month. And I am very happy to open this collaboration with the story of Audrey Cakin, a double amputee from the Caribbean.
April is Limb Loss Awareness Month. And it started well for me. Very well, indeed. Earlier this month I received notice that I am part of this year’s team of athletes of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF). I am very thankful for the CAF support as it will enable me to to further develop my climbing skills, both indoors and outdoors. I will keep you posted about the developments in this regard.
Limb loss is a traumatic experience, regardless of the reason for amputation, and can impact different areas of the amputee’s life. After amputation, there are many things amputees cannot control - when to get the first socket, triggers of phantom pain, the number of ply socks required for comfort, and so on. But feeling alone in the journey should not be one of them. For me, this is something I can control and I choose to do something about.
While the games are on and all the attention is on the competitions, there is a lot going on behind the scenes to enable athletes to give their best. Here is a behind the scenes video from the Ottobock PyeongChang2018 Repair Service Center. In this centre Ottobock technicians and welders do anything from building protheses to repairing ice sledges, from sewing clothes to forming new covers to support all athletes during the Paralympic Games.
Three years after the end of a 5,000-mile solo run across Canada, during which real-life superhero Jamie McDonald raised more than £250,000 for children’s charities, the fundraiser has announced that he will be running across the United States of America, again dressed as a superhero. Due to his year-long visa, he is in a race against time to complete the challenge, and will be running a marathon most days to complete it.
Dr. Malvika Iyer just received the prestigious Nari Shakti Puraskar Award. You all might remember Malvika Iyer, an inspiring young woman who survived a bomb blast as a child and became one of the leading disability rights activists of our time. Malvika’s story was featured as one of the first stories on The Active Amputee. If you did not have the time to read the article back then, treat yourself to it today. It’s a good start into a new week; one with an immensely encouraging message.
In early 2015, the life of Sebastiana Lopez almost ended. A horrible motorcycle accident left her severely injured and resulted in the amputation of her right leg. After weeks in a medical induced coma, after depending on others for her daily routine, Sebastiana decided to use this life-altering experience as an opportunity to start anew. And she came back stronger than ever. „Who cares if the odds are stacked up against us, bring it on. We will not be defeated and when we fail. We will learn and emerge stronger, faster, well informed.“ Here is her amazing story.
I am a regular visitor to Nepal and I just came back from my 13th journey in the last eight years. And I still can’t get enough of this country, its people, its culture. As an amputee Nepal isn’t the easiest country to travel. But it isn’t the hardest either. And if you are willing to give it a go, you will be rewarded with an amazing time. Even if you only stay within the Kathmandu valley, you can easily fill a week’s itinerary with an exciting mixture of world heritage sites and stunning nature. Nepalis are immensely friendly. Hospitality is genuine and you are welcome with open arms. Yes, Kathmandu is very touristy, but at the same time Nepal’s capital is an authentic city with its very own culture, its very own charm. There is so much to explore and little gems can be found everywhere, sometimes only a few steps off the main tourist hubs. The earthquake has damaged - and partly destroyed - much of the city’s historic architecture, but the old temples and palaces are being rebuilt at the moment.
Covering a 1,300 meters difference in altitude in a day - first up and then down again - is a demanding task, even if you have two legs. Trying to do so as an above-the-knee amputee is even more of a challenge. Adding the fact that the hike between Budhanilkantha and the peak of Shivapuri is mainly made up of several very long sets of steps and you know that your remaining leg is in for an XXL workout. And that is just what I wanted.
My own journey really began on February 24, 2001, on the icy slopes of Ben Nevis in Scotland.
I luckily survived a winter mountaineering fall from a beautiful, exposed 600 metre-long route called Tower Ridge, which tragically killed my climbing partner, Neil, leaving me to freeze
overnight with significantly disabling, and life-long, injuries. The physical injuries were, over time, recognized for what they are, adapted towards, decisions made on a way forward based on an
awareness of these imposed limitations (and opportunities for growth). That's when my journey began.
Good news from Edinburgh. Below the knee amputee Keith Lynch has set up a climbing club especially for people with disabilities. The Scottish Paraclimbing Club is the first of its kind in the United Kingdom providing opportunities for people with additional support needs to get involved in climbing and progress in the sport.
In my line of work I travel a lot; in recent years mainly to Asia. Between 2009 and 2015 I regularly visited Nepal. Ever since my childhood I wanted to travel in the Himalayas. One of the first adventure books I ever read was by Alexandra David-Néel, a French woman who travelled to the then forbidden city of Lhasa in Tibet in the 1920s. And while I never made it to Tibet, I developed a special love for Nepal and its people. And after a break of several years I soon will have the chance to go back and visit Kathmandu and its surroundings once more. And to get into the right mood, I want to share one of the stories from my last trip to Nepal. I hope you enjoy it.
Today is World Cancer Day. A gentle reminder not to take anything for granted, not even life itself. A gentle reminder to celebrate that you are a survivor. A gentle reminder to be thankful for all those people along the journey, who were there when you needed them most.
And here is my way of marking this day special. Out in the hills, with a pack on my back, wind in my face and spectacular views all around me. What more could you ask for to be happy?
"For the first time, in April 2015, I travelled far away from France. For years, I wanted to discover other cultures. So when I finished my studies I didn't hesitate and bought a flight ticket to Japan. Three amazing weeks! During these vacations in the country of the rising sun I caught the travel bug and I realised this passion was about to become a central part of my life." That's how Aurélie's amazing story started a few years ago.
Climbing is a great sport. And there is no reason why people with a limb difference shouldn‘t give it a try. I have been climbing for a couple of years now and I tried a variety of set-ups for my prosthesis; i.e. completely without any artificial limb (no socket, no knee, no foot, no nothing) and with the C-Leg (but with my normal day-to-day foot) before settling on the ADK climbing foot. The ADK foot is a rather unspectacular piece of gear but it works surprisingly well for me. It‘s a simple construction that I mount directly underneath my socket. And while the foot has a few issues I would like to change, I am generally satisfied with it.
Over the Christmas break I finally had some time to reach out to other amputees I had been following on Instagram for some time. I wanted to see who might be interested in sharing his or her story on The Active Amputee. One of the people I contacted was Jenna Rivera - @amplifiedyogi on Instagram. I wanted to learn more about how she uses yoga and meditation in her recovery process. And right after the first few sentences went through, I got a first reply. Which read: „Hello Bjoern! Did you sent this because of the mail I set earlier? Because I shared my story with you earlier for you to share on your site.“ No, I hadn‘t seen her mail. What an amazing coincidence. A bit of serendipity to start the new year. So I opened my inbox and this is what I found. Jenna‘s story.
This page is made by amputees. And it is made for amputees and their families. The Active Amputee wants to enable you to make informed decisions by providing unbiased information. The Active Amputee wants to inspire action through the sharing of stories. And the Active Amputee wants to build a community of active amputees by encouraging engagement and mutual support. Nothing more, nothing less. It‘s as easy and simple as that.
The people involved in The Active Amputee love to hear from you. Give us feedback about this page, send in your stories so that we can share them with others, let us know about events that are of interest for amputees, suggest topics you would like to read more about, ask questions. Really, anything that relates to amputee issues is of interest for The Active Amputee and could be featured on this side. Here is the contact form.