Don’t take our word for it, hear from our clients how our services have impacted them…
Hazel & Steve Frost – Parents of Ryan Frost
What can we say apart from a huge thank you, Ryan’s new limb is fantastic – out of this world…
“We wish to say a huge thank you to you and your staff, for fitting and making Ryan’s new leg absolutely fabulous. The care that all take is very much appreciated. Ryan is so pleased that when it arrived, he put it on and went to show his best mate with shorts and flip flops on. Only you can understand the importance of this.
Rob has also been great, he took a great deal of time with Ryan and has given us excellent results, so a big thank you to Rob as well as Ryan is now smiling all the time.
Thank you to you all.
Ryan, Hazel and Steve Frost x”
In 1993, I went fishing and my pole came into contact with electricity cables. As I was standing in the pond, my legs were burned up to the knees…
“It was an accident waiting to happen.
The surgeons tried to save my legs but were left with no choice but to amputate. With the NHS prostheses, I was getting pain in hips and spine. A nurse then recommended Dorset Orthopaedic to me. The team really helped with my court case and recommended I have a different cast. The service was so much better. Dorset Orthopaedic consider the individual.
At first, I had silicone covers on my prostheses. It gave me the confidence to go out in shorts. Now I’m more confident, I don’t need the covers, so I just have a sprayed finish.
Before the accident, I used to bike as a junior and senior to national standard. After the accident, I couldn’t look at a bike or take part in sport for six or seven years. However, in the last 2 years, I’ve got back into it. Last November, I biked from Fort William to Inverness, and I’m planning a tour in the French Alps.
To anyone in a similar situation, I say think positively. Look to the future, not the past, because that just gets you down. It’s all about accepting what’s happened and working within your limitations. You can have ten people telling you what to do. But the motivation to move forward has to come from within you.”
“I was injured in Iraq in 2006 and had both legs amputated. As I had private medical insurance, a case manager tracked down Dorset Orthopaedic…”
The team took measurements at my initial consultation and went on to provide me with a C-Leg and a flex-foot solution.
Both prosthetic devices give me all the mobility I need. The below-knee device has suspension and a dampening function that makes it extremely comfortable to use. With both limbs, I keep very active and still enjoy skiing and sailing.
Dorset Orthopaedic are definitely the people to see. They have the experience to give you what you need.”
“I lost my right leg in a bad motorcycle accident. Receiving physiotherapy at home, I started thinking I might benefit from a prosthetic limb…”
The NHS built me a leg but it was of poor quality and lacked stability. So I got in touch with Paul at Dorset Orthopaedic.
Paul made a trial C-Leg in the summer. I thought it was brilliant, as it provides the control and stability I need. I’ve now got the funding for the leg and a trial hip joint.
I’ve received a brilliant service so far. I get on really well with Paul and he sees things from my point of view. He’s got me to where I am and I’m grateful for all his support.”
Jodie and Tony Cross – parents of Lydia Cross
We approached Dorset Orthopaedic when discovering Heather Mills is a client of theirs. We couldn’t believe how beautiful her legs were, and that’s exactly what we wanted for our daughter, Lydia…
We met Bob Watts who was so lovely and understanding towards Lydia. That’s important for a family that has endured everything we’ve gone through. The team spent a long time with Lydia, making sure she never had any sores or rubbing from her prosthetics. From the first time she wore them, she said how comfortable they were to walk on.
Initially, we had to raise funds for Lydia’s prosthetics, however, following the court case, she can have two pairs every six months. There are no limits with Dorset Orthopaedic. If Lydia needs a different leg, Bob will sort it out.
Lydia is very girly. She wants pretty legs for pretty dresses. In the summer, she can wear sandals with little straps round the ankle. The workmanship of Dorset Orthopaedic has given her the chance to enjoy being a normal little girl.”
I lost my leg above the knee when a horse kicked me in 2001. Under the NHS, I found it impossible to get a comfortable prosthesis…
I’d read about Heather Mills and Dorset Orthopaedic in the national press. So I rang the number and made an appointment.
With the aid of some NHS funding, Dorset Orthopaedic provided me with a M.A.S. Socket that has changed my whole way of walking. The suction socket has allowed me to continue working, which involves driving up to 1,000 miles a week. I can also take our two Springers for walks on the Moors.
I love Dorset Orthopaedic to bits. They do everything they can for you. If you’ve got a problem, they sort it out as soon as they can.”
I always tell people that since I wasn’t able to keep the legs God gave me, I wanted the next best thing – legs made at Dorset Orthopaedic…
The custom silicone liners provide such an intimate fit with my residual limbs, they feel like part of my body. Even better, the custom silicone cosmesis covering my wonderfully shaped legs leave people in disbelief that they are not my real legs and feet.”
I suffered severe depression for four years. In June 2007, I tried taking my life by lying on a train track and lost both my legs…
The NHS gave me a pair of prosthetic limbs and, two months later, I’d learned to walk again.
My limbs did nothing for my confidence. As a nineteen year old, I wanted limbs that looked and felt good. Then I met Heather Mills who recommended seeing Dorset Orthopaedic and getting a pair of limbs with silicone skin.
I couldn’t believe the detail that goes into the silicone covers. I had the chance to choose every contour and feature of my limbs. They’ve worked wonders in lifting my mood. To anyone in a similar situation, I say never give up. Losing a part of your body might seem like the end of the world, but it’s not. Life goes on and things do get better.”
Louise McOvens (Nee: McDonagh)
Although I was enduring terrible pain as a result of multiple injuries from a car acident, one thing I will always remember vividly is my consultant telling me that if I made it through, the biggest problem would be my foot!
After lying flat for almost six weeks to heal my broken pelvis, legs in traction and with severe internal injuries, it became apparent that as a result of my severed sciatic nerve, I was left with a permanent physical disability.
The hospital fitted me with an acrylic splint that went right up the back of the leg. Let alone the fact that it tore the delicate burn tissue on my leg to pieces, increasing my already high risk of septicaemia from the burns, I also found it very difficult to find any shoes that would fit over the hefty device.
After a year of experimenting with podiatric support, it became apparent that my drop foot was deteriorating further and I started hitching my leg to avoid tripping over my foot. The scar tissue from the burns, which had to a degree been holding up the foot, had started breaking down. The more activities I did, such as water-skiing, swimming and cycling, the more the scar tissue was breaking down. I was very distressed as mentally sport was keeping up my morale and aiding the rehabilitation of my muscles but ultimately it was also deteriorating my drop foot. In desperation, I went back to see my podiatrist to see what he could do and he informed me of a ground-breaking company called Dorset Orthopaedic!
It was ten years this January since my accident and I am now kitesurfing, snowboarding, down hill mountain biking, surfing, playing tennis, doing power yoga, am a dive master, kitesurfing instructor and a tennis coach. All of these sport and qualifications, bar tennis which I have done since I was a child, I have mastered as a result of the SAFO. Although running is still sadly not a possibility with the SAFO alone, we have discussed the possibility of developing a cross between a SAFO and a prosthetic running limb. With regards to walking, the distance I can cover has doubled since having the SAFO and my energy levels have increased as it is much more effortless to take each step.
The SAFO has, and will continue to change my life. What is great about the company is that they are always open to new ideas and will make prototypes until they get it right. This means whatever activities you do in the future, if you experience difficulties, there may be a way of improving the device so it lends itself better to that particular sport.
I cannot recommend Dorset Orthopaedics highly enough. Not only has the SAFO turned my life around, the company is run extremely efficiently and the consultants are very sympathetic to your needs and anxieties.
“Being diagnosed with a condition that you and most of the world have never heard of is never easy, especially when you can barely pronounce the name.”
“Charcot-Marie Tooth or CMT led many of my friends to actually giggle (once they had given the mandatory sympathy hug) and inspired a whole host of nicknames for the condition such as Saber-Tooth tiger and Chaka Khan disease; they all help to deal with a complaint that hasn’t received much attention or support in the medical world.
Enter Dorset Orthopedics. My mother, also a sufferer, was informed of the clinic by St Richards Hospital in Chichester and upon my diagnosis I was keen to visit. My feeling was that I was greeted with little to no support after entering the CMT collective and although not life-threatening it is a hinderance whose sufferers should be met, I feel, with the equivalent of a metaphorical warm embrace.
The first thing I noticed about Dorset Orthopedics was the incredibly friendly reception staff. Once sitting in the Doctor Jekyll style waiting room littered with various prosthetic limbs and appendages I began to get excited; maybe these people could cater to my personal requirements and provide me with something tailored specifically to me.
My meeting with orthotist Andrew Collins was highly informative, I learnt how to combat my muscle tightening, what shoes best support my feet and most importantly for someone of my age, I learnt that my feet aren’t actually as useless as I sometimes feel they are. With regular exercise and special stretches I can expect to feel safe on my feet and can enjoy the knowledge that they need minimum support.
I walked away from Dorset Orthopedics with details about obtaining funding, some SAFOs being manufactured and vitally, peace of mind. The staff were all very helpful and understanding and really determined to help me out.
“I am 34 and I was diagnosed with CMT 9 years ago. I have had a few innersoles made which have not helped at all.”
“9 months ago I was a very unhappy person, I felt as if the whole world was against me. My doctor had put me on antidepressants, I was struggling at work, tired and in pain. Then my friend booked me into the Dorset Clinic, where I obtained a SAFO and I haven’t looked back.
Walking down the high street I realised there is so much I had never seen as I’ve always been looking at the floor and now it’s so different. I walk upright and can see the world, its great not looking at other peoples shoes any more. I feel like a new person.
Walking on snow was a new challenge, but not only did I walk, but ran as well! I would never have believed I would be running let alone in the snow. I can even walk on the ice!
I do have to be careful with the heat on my feet, particularly when driving. Because I’ve never really felt heat in my feet I find it a very funny feeling and have to walk around without my shoes and socks on to cool my feet down. I would have never have walked around without anything on my feet before the SAFO as I would fallen flat on my face.
I’m not worried about facing new people now because I know I look normal when I walk. I can now wear trainers and I even bought a pair of long boots for Christmas. I wore them all New Years Eve, I was even dancing in them!
When I have to send my SAFOs back I am only without them for two days – the worst two days ever and as soon as get them back I feel alive again.
I still can’t get over how my life has changed so much. I have to say thanks to the helpful and friendly people at Dorset Clinic for Safos and to the people who make them, it’s thanks to these people and my best friend Jennie for getting my life back. Thank you.
“I contracted polio when I was fifteen, just before I was due to be immunised. I spent a month in isolation and another seven months in Queen Mary’s Hospital, Carshalton.”
“The illness badly affected my right leg. However, I made some progress with physiotherapy and the hospital discharged me with elbow crutches. I was later fitted with a toe-spring – a very unglamorous aid – which I did not use for long. Eventually, I decided to manage without any devices.
My main problem was a lack of any muscular power below the knee. This caused me to hitch my leg from the hip, putting strain on that joint and causing me to trip over my toes.
In 2003, I saw an advertisement in the Polio Fellowship magazine for Dorset Orthopaedic’s SAFO. It seemed to be just what I needed. Indeed it was, helping me walk more comfortably and giving me the confidence to cope with daily activities, particularly stairs and public transport, which is important for a non-driver.
Now that I have developed arthritis in my ‘good’ knee, my SAFO has become even more important. I regard it as an essential part of me!”
“I was diagnosed with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT) 28 years ago after finding my thumbs were too weak to do up my baby’s nappy pins. There is no cure for this nerve disorder, which causes muscle-wasting.”
“Without the use of my thumbs, I couldn’t play the piano and flute, knit and sew. Unable to control my feet, I also found it difficult to walk, run, balance and cycle. By 2000, I was falling over regularly, tripping on uneven surfaces, and always fearful of breaking my hip. The NHS offered me rigid NHS plastic leg splints but wearing them was painful and made it impossible to drive a car. I felt desperate.
A chance browse on the web revealed Dorset Orthopaedic’s newly invented SAFO (Silicone Ankle Foot Orthosis). From the moment I tried one on, I knew they would solve my problems. I’ve worn SAFOs now for eight years and tripping over is a thing of the past! They hold my feet comfortably, enabling me to put my heel down first in a normal walking gait rather than the high-stepping action I had previously to lift my toes off the ground. The silicone fabric is warm and flexible, and can be repaired if it splits. I can drive a car safely in them, which has prolonged my active life and given me new interests. I now enjoy gardening without fear of overbalancing; I also go cross-country walking with my husband and can even do country dancing!
I wear SAFOs daily from morning to night, and have had no insoluble problems with them. In very hot weather, if I’m on a long plane journey, or if I don’t need to go anywhere for a while, I take them off to avoid my feet swelling up. I take good care of my feet to avoid fungal infections, which are a drawback in any moist warm footwear. I use talc to help my SAFOs slide on easily without sticking, and wash them regularly with a low-cost anti-bacterial cleanser from a chemist.
A new pressure point develops occasionally as my feet change shape through continuing muscle wastage. However, Dorset Orthopaedic’s skilled orthotists quickly adjust the fit of the SAFO, and all is well again.
Dorset Orthopaedic continues to upgrade the design of SAFOs. The three large fastening flaps are much easier for my weak fingers to close than the original single-flap design. The firm has worked hard to ensure SAFOs are available with NHS funding, and I would encourage anyone who suffers with dropped feet to ask about them. They have transformed my life!”
“Crosby was born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy. His left side was more affected than his right, with a poorly functioning left hand and a weak, shortened left leg, amongst many other problems.”
“When Crosby was a child, his left foot and ankle were unstable and the foot would not remain in a normal position as he grew. He was fitted with a knee-high rigid plastic splint, which we called ‘Old Faithful’ throughout his childhood and teenage years.
Old Faithful was a hard friend to please. Crosby needed a long sock – which were not easy to find – to stop the rigid plastic chafing his calf. He also needed a thin synthetic sock inside the long cotton one to avoid recurrent athlete’s foot. For shoes, Crosby required a pair that were wide and opened right down to the toe so he could get the bulky foot section round the corner. What’s more, the hinge at the back of the foot section of the splint clanked with every step. Even in his teens, Crosby needed help putting his footwear on. We often returned to the orthotic department of the local hospital for repairs to snapped rivets and broken hinges. No holiday luggage was complete without our emergency repair kit.
Crosby also developed an odd walking action, hitching his left leg up at the hip to take a step. Because the calf muscle got very little use, it remained undeveloped, and thinner than the right calf. On the plus side, Old Faithful did a good job of holding Crosby’s foot and ankle stable while he grew. However, to be blunt, wearing a knee-high piece of black plastic with Velcro straps is far from sexy! When Crosby hit his late teens and due to go to university, I saw an advert for Dorset Orthopaedic’s wonderful new SAFO (Silicone Ankle Foot Orthosis). He was keen to try it, so off we went to Hampshire.
The assessment by Dorset Orthopaedic’s Orthotist was a delight. He welcomed us with a cup of tea and gave ample time and attention – a treat after years of NHS time-restricted appointments. Crosby tried on a sample and was blown away. No bulky plastic, just a thin flesh-coloured product resembling a thick sock or a sports ankle support. The team took a cast and soon after, Crosby returned to collect his tailor-made SAFO. Crosby remembers that moment as the day his life changed for the better. Now there’s no more clanking, long socks or special shoes. He manages the SAFO independently and can cover it completely with an ordinary sock. No one knows he’s wearing it.
When he first had the SAFO, Crosby was amazed to feel the texture of the ground under his left foot. It was a revelation and helped him know what his left foot was doing. In turn, this has helped him use and strengthen his muscles and develop a more normal walking style. The difference it has made to Crosby’s life is amazing. He says he feels liberated, independent, and just like everyone else. “When I was at school, there was always something differentiating me from everyone,” he said. “Now I feel as good as them. I’m worth something.” And he can hardly stop smiling when he says it.
I watch him walking sometimes. He has a new air of self-confidence. I tend to forget he has the SAFO and he says he forgets it himself. His self-respect has grown beyond belief and changed his life. That’s why we would like to say thank you to the whole team at Dorset Orthopaedic!
“I was diagnosed with MS twelve years ago. While looking online for information, I noticed a site for Dorset Orthopaedics. With my interest aroused, I read it and printed it off for future reference. I talked to my husband, GP and physio, who had previously given me an ankle orthosis to help my dropped foot.”
“It helped stop my tripping but the orthosis was black, so I was extremely conscious of wearing it. It was alright if I wore jeans or long skirts, but in the summertime, I wanted to have bare legs.
I noticed Dorset Orthopaedic’s SAFO can be colour matched to skin tones, so vanity prevailed in my case. My husband agreed that a SAFO would help make me more confident, so I called and booked an appointment. Arriving for the consultation, friendly staff greeted us and made us coffee. I tried on a SAFO which fitted well enough for me to walk in. Instead of looking at the ground to make sure it was level and I wouldn’t trip, I looked upwards and walked. Such was my confidence, I knew I had to have one of my own.
The team made a mould and the cold wet plaster felt strange. After a short time, the mould had set and we went home. Just days later, Dorset Orthopaedic called for an appointment to make sure my SAFO fitted properly. It felt comfortable and fitted correctly. My husband, the dog and I went for a half-hour test walk – the feeling of not catching my toes and falling was marvellous. I hadn’t taken the dog for a walk on uneven ground for a long time. I walked with my head in the air and felt noticed again.
There’s a vast difference when I wear the SAFO. Some days, I don’t wear it, but soon realise I should. When we go on holidays in a cool climate, I take the SAFO. I’m not limited to footwear either. The lack of balance MS brings means I have to wear flat footwear, however, I also have sandals, deck shoes, Mary Jane shoes, and ankle boots with laces.”
“As an amputee from birth, I believe everyone deserves the chance to have good looking, comfortable and functional prosthetic devices. Ten years ago, I read Heather Mills’ autobiography and was one of the first patients in the UK to gain NHS funding for a prosthesis with a silicone cover.”
Unfortunately, it was never really a perfect fit in terms of comfort and function. Then I heard about Dorset Orthopaedic and its reputation as a centre of excellence. Mark Ledger at Dorset helped me prepare a case to present to the Primary Care Trust.
I love everything about the company. They helped me realise that great prosthetic limbs aren’t just for the rich and people with private medical cover. You’re not shooting for the moon if you want a comfortable and cosmetically attractive limb.”
“As a below-knee amputee of twenty-eight years with a residual limb severely damaged by radium treatment as a baby, I was desperate to find a comfortable prosthesis, and made an appointment to see Bob Watts.”
I first met Bob Watts when he worked for Otto Bock at Egham.
“A feature on the programme ‘That’s Life’ with Esther Rantzen highlighted the shortcomings of the current limb fitting service, then provided by the Disablement Services Authority. It described the greater quality of fitting provided by the German prosthetists at the Otto Bock Company.
Bob had worked with the German prosthetist who pioneered the lightweight modular limbs, and he felt that if I had a comfortable socket, it would be possible for me to change from the cumbersome and ill-fitting number 8 limb I was wearing.
This presented a major life-change for me, to say the least. Having been disabled since a baby, I had never properly used my right thigh muscles, although I had always been as active as possible, had had my own horse throughout my teenage years, and rode every day.
There were very many challenges with the pain of newly-expanding muscles and the need for a constantly changing socket over the next two years that it took to properly acclimatise to my new type of prosthesis, and Bob gave me enormous support throughout. He and Ken and Ray became real friends whom I valued.
Bob had family in Dorset, and a keen interest in sailing, and for these reasons chose to set up his own company in Dorset. This was a great benefit to me, as I no longer had the long journey to Egham, but any journey necessary would have been worth it as Bob’s dedication to perfection of quality of service is something not found often.
Over the years, every time there was a new innovation – the silicone socket, the Flexfoot, Bob saw that I had it, and I benefited enormously from these things. Some eight years ago, Mathew Hughes took over as my prosthetist, and he has been absolutely wonderful, continuing Bob’s high standard of care and coming up with many further innovations that have improved things for me.
I am also privileged to be an NHS patient at Dorset Orthopaedic, as Dorset Health Authority has recognised (not without a fight supported by my lovely GP, Tim Harley, and local MP) that this is what I need.
Two bad falls in which I fractured my right femur in 1992 and 2000 set me back each time for some time. I have rebuilt my fitness with the aid of daily use of home gym equipment in that time, using a rowing machine, stepper and weights. More recently, I have acquired an air-walker and this has been a real innovation, revealing just how much the right side of my whole body was weak, and improving this beyond belief.
Although I am now rather older than I was when I first met Bob, I am still leading an active life enjoying hobbies and the three gorgeous grandchildren I have acquired along the way.
For the past thirty years, my main hobby has been competition flower arranging. In case you are visualising a picture of old ladies in crimplene frocks arranging delicate blooms in glass vases, I would hasten to add that the reality of competitive work is more about lugging huge bits of driftwood and heavy stands around, particularly when you are staging a seven-foot exhibit overnight at Chelsea Flower Show.
I manage this with the aid of a trolley, a stool adapted by Remap and a lovely husband – who has also incidentally become a dab-hand with a pair of flower scissors when we are doing weddings.
I could easily ramble on for another 600 words to say what Dorset Orthopaedic and its care has meant to me. However, I will limit it to four more words:
Thank you, Bob Watts.”
Margaret and Roy Daisley
“Our story begins on 20th August 1992 when, on the first day of an intended walking holiday in Austria, we were knocked down by a motorcycle and both suffered very serious injuries.”
“A brief account of that event appeared in the Spring 1998 issue of docNEWS. Attempts were made to save our legs but Margaret’s left leg had to be amputated below the knee just after Christmas 1992. Mine lasted a few months longer but towards the end of August 1993 my right leg was amputated below the knee.
Following lengthy periods in hospital we acquired prosthetic limbs supplied by the NHS. We have no complaints about our NHS hospital treatment; it was first-class. However, we did think their prostheses could be improved; we asked if we could pay extra for something superior but were assured that nothing better was available.
Remember that this was in 1993 and there must have been substantial improvements since then. Those first prostheses were really quite awful to behold, being held on by straps just above the knee. However, because of the delicate nature of Margaret’s stump, it was agreed somewhat reluctantly that she could have an Iceross with a ratchet fitting, but they wouldn’t let me have one!
Shortly after that we made a discovery. A local television programme featured a young man with an artificial leg who played rugby. I phoned the BBC and the man who had conducted the interview got back to us very quickly to tell us about Bob Watts and give us a contact telephone number. We quickly made an appointment to see Bob and visited him for an initial assessment on 14 October 1993. In due course, when our stumps were judged to have settled down sufficiently, we were both fitted with Flex-Foot below-knee prostheses.
Thus, for sixteen years we have continued to visit Dorset Orthopaedic for our prostheses, seeing it grow from Bob’s little patch to its present size. Despite the growth, and the fact that we are no longer treated by Bob himself, we have been very satisfied with DO’s prosthetists and the way they have cared for us. Margaret’s stump is particularly troublesome and has frequently caused us to return for adjustments and modifications but we are always treated with patience and understanding.
When we arrive, it’s like being greeted as old friends.”
“I’m happy for potential users of SAFOs, or those who might consider prescribing them, to contact me … With ten years of experience and satisfaction I like to think I know what I’m talking about.”
“I have worn SAFOs for 16-17 hours a day, every day for more than ten years. They are comfortable, unobtrusive and have made an immeasurable and enduring contribution to my quality of life by reducing fatigue and boosting confidence. They are infinitely superior and far more effective than the Ankle-Foot-Orthoses I was previously prescribed, which were not only less effective, but, because they were uncomfortable and cumbersome, could be worn only for relatively short periods.
By the time I was in my early sixties peripheral neuropathy had progressed to the stage that walking had become very slow and tiring, and there was always the risk of tripping and having a heavy fall. By that time I was using the car for journeys as short as a kilometre, simply because walking had become so laborious. I had also become aware of the possibility of having to resort to using a wheelchair in my impending retirement.
SAFOs have transformed my mobility, outlook and well-being; however, no orthoses can work miracles: I have to accept that my gait will never again be ‘normal’, that I will always walk slowly and that I will never regain balance control.”
“My name is Carolyn I am nearer 70 than 60 years old and I would like to tell you how my SAFO has given me a new lease of life.”
“15 years ago I suffered an event that changed my life I thought forever. Up till then life was just amazing. I had a great job, lots of friends and a full social life. Loved travel and holidaying in far flung exotic places. I trekked through jungles, explored the sights, swam and snorkeled through tropical waters then danced the nights away. As I live near the sea long walks on the beach with the dog were enjoyed and taken for granted.
Then one fateful morning while taking a show I was struck with the greatest pain I have ever experienced to be told later that I had suffered two slipped two discs. This left me with a dropped foot which I was unable to lift or even waggle a toe.
Life with a dropped foot just got harder and harder. The appliances I was fitted with were hard and uncomfortable to wear and walk with. They did not fit into my shoes so had to wear lace up boots. To fit the appliance into the boots they had to be a size bigger than normal so the other foot was slopping about in a boot that was too big. I gave up on them and sorted out an elastic figure of eight support myself which helped a little. Whatever I used I had to goose step to keep from tripping up. Very soon the rock and roll manner of my gait started to cause other problems and my mobility became severely restricted. My hip on the other side developed a very painful bursitis and the knee became unstable. I tripped frequently and have broken my arm, injured my face, hands shoulders and knees.
Eventually I had to give up work which was a blow and going out anywhere became a painful chore. I found if I went out with the family or friends I had to sit and watch as I walked so slowly it embarrassed me that people had to wait for me all the time. Walking on the sand was difficult and swimming was out as the water pushed my foot down so I couldn’t pitch to get in or out. I had to walk in to the sea backwards and crawl back to the beach on my hands and knees. Not very dignified.
So I stayed home more and more, thought that was to be my lot. My self confidence hit rock bottom and because of my inactivity I put on a lot of weight which didn’t help.
Then I discovered the SAFO® quite by chance. At a visit to the appliance dept to be fitted for a insole to lift my inner heel the fitter asked me if I was aware of the SAFO®. He described it and recommended it to me but as they are not supplied by the NHS suggested I look it up online. This I did as soon as I got home and was impressed by the possibility of some improvement to my walking. I discovered on their website that a clinic was scheduled to be help at the NPP clinic in Helston, Cornwall that very week. Immediately I phoned and spoke to a very helpful secretary who fitted me in at the end of the clinic list. At my appointment I was introduced to Matt Hughes, orthotist at Dorset Orthopaedic, who examined my foot and ankle and explained to me how a SAFO® would help me. He had one there I could try and immediately I was impressed. Even though it wasn’t made to fit me I see the advantages it offered. A cast was made of my foot and ankle to make a SAFO® to fit me precisely. I didn’t have to decide there and then so I went home to think about it. The next morning I was on the phone before the poor secretary had time to take her coat off and ordered my very own SAFO®. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive which it did very quickly and my life has now changed again.
Unbelievably I can now walk normally again. No more walking with my head down watching for anything that may trip me up and I can walk as far as I want. I had not realized how tiring it was goose stepping everywhere. It fits in all my shoes even sandals and is so comfortable I forget I am wearing it. Because I am happier and more active I have lost nearly a stone in weight and my painful knees and hip are slowly resolving with my improved gait. Not surprisingly I feel like a new person and am beginning to rebuild my life. Now I confidently go to meet friends for an evening out and I can walk on the beach with my grandchildren instead of having to sit on a wall watching the world go by me.
The most exciting part is soon to come. My friends and I have planned a trip to Cambodia. We are going to spend a month exploring the country, meeting the people and exploring the temples at Angkor which has been an ambition I never thought would be realized. We are going to start in Phnom Penh then travel around the country and the National parks ending on the coast for a few days beaching, swimming and relaxing. The highlight for me will be seeing Angkor temples. I am so excited about it and I am confident that with my SAFO® I will have no problems getting about. Thank you Dorset Orthopaedic for giving me a chance of a new chapter in my life.”
“I first travelled down to Ringwood some 14 years ago. I did not make that journey with any confidence or expectation of a happy outcome: the reason – I had spent 18 months in an NHS limb centre just trying to find comfort.”
“I had no more expectation than that. During those 18 long months the prosthetists had made me about 11 liners and two sockets for my above knee leg, no-one could say they hadn’t tried, but for me nothing worked, I could not walk more than a few yards without severe chaffing on my residual limb. I had lost my left leg above the knee in a motorbike accident and was airlifted to hospital in an attempt to reattach the limb, unfortunately it was too badly severed and although I begged them to try, the outcome was the leg had to be removed just above the knee. On talking to the anaesthetist after the operation, himself an above knee amputee, I was assured that a comfortable limb would be made for me with state of the art cover so that it would virtually match my own.
These were my expectations when I first attended the NHS limb-fitting centre. So I am sure that most people would understand how depressed I had become over the 18 months I had been travelling backwards and forwards to the centre. I obviously wasn’t the only one, as I lost count of the number of patients attending in wheelchairs carrying their legs!
On the first visit to Dorset Orthopaedic, I was assessed and asked what my expectations were. I remember clearly saying that all I really wanted was a comfortable limb that would not rub, chafe or cause blisters. Dear Bob assured me that they would do just that. But of course I didn’t really believe him, how could he achieve what the prosthetists at the NHS limb centre had spent 18 months trying to achieve without a glimmer of success.
I am sure dear readers you can guess the outcome – yes he did just that, no it wasn’t perfect the first time, but with persistence skill and expertise we achieved it. But of course that wasn’t all, in addition to a comfortable fit, I had a silicone cosmetic cover in a skin tone which virtually matched the other leg, together with skilfully crafted toes, nails and yes veins, I declined the hairs!
Since then it has been onwards and upwards, two more legs have been made, I have trialled the ‘C’ leg at Otto Bock’s Egham headquarters with my then prosthetist Brian Wade in close attendance. Unfortunately it wasn’t for right for me, so now I have settled on my trusty Endolite.
The other point I must mention is the caring and helpfulness of the Dorset Orthopaedic staff. It is always nice to come into reception and find Karen – a more welcoming, helpful and personable receptionist it would be difficult to find and Julie McKay has always been a caring, kind and resourceful person. Both Karen and Julie manage to find me an elusive appointment just when I need it and I can’t thank them enough for their help over the years. And of course, David Hills, now my prosthetist after Brian Wade’s retirement: David always has the ‘can do’ attitude, I always know I can e-mail him with a problem and he will sort it out. I would like him to know how much that gives me confidence and trust, he will always try to fit me into his manically busy schedule and emerge with my problem resolved.
Finally there is Bob Watts, without whom, of course, none of this would exist. We all have cause to be thankful that he had the foresight to set up such a company using his skill and flare to provide the ultimate all encompassing prosthetic and orthotic service that we enjoy today.
“My SAFO® has given me my life back. I am a private chartered physiotherapist specialising in sports injuries….I was told by the medical world that I would have to give up my position as physio to the England Mountain Running Team, but within a month of receiving my SAFO® ….I was working with the team.”
“In 2010 I was diagnosed with a benign tumour in my left shin bone which was eroding the bone away. I was told that the recognised treatment for the condition was amputation, but my consultant offered me a pioneering treatment which could possibly save my leg. If we did nothing my bone would continue to be eroded away and if the treatment wasn’t effective the result would be an amputation, so to me, the ‘new’ treatment was the only option.
I underwent 10 months of treatment to solidify the tumour within the bone, and whilst this halted the damage to the bone, any movement of my ankle joint caused me to develop cellulitis, which in itself could still have resulted in amputation.
As movement now seemed to be the problem, the obvious way forward seemed to be to immobilise the ankle and foot. I was offered a bay cast splint from the hospital, but this was extremely uncomfortable against my bone and I was unable to tolerate it for more than a few minutes. I then purchased a walking boot that is often used when people have had broken bones in their lower leg. This was effective, but was cumbersome and meant I had a real wobble when I walked.
After seeing the publicity for the Paralympic Championships I decided that somebody somewhere must be able to design and develop a brace that would allow me to be more active but prevent the cellulitis from recurring. After trawling the Internet I found Dorset Orthopaedics website and the company motto ‘Life without Limits’.
I contacted the company and couldn’t believe their positivity! When I explained my problem was something they had probably never experienced before ( because the treatment hadn’t previously been done for this kind of tumour in this country), they reassured me they always dealt with the unusual.
I attended the clinic and Matthew Hughes designed and developed a silicone and carbon fibre foot and ankle orthoses for me. It is referred to as a SAFO, but I think mine should be a SCAFO because of the carbon fibre element.
My SCAFO has given me my life back. I am a private chartered physiotherapist specialising in sports injuries, in particular injuries to fell and mountain runners. I was told by the medical world that I would have to give up my position as physio to the England Mountain Running Team, but within a month of receiving my SCAFO I was in Switzerland at the foot of the Eiger working with the team at the Jungfrau Marathon, the World Long Distance Mountain Running Championships. 2 weeks later I was in Cumbria at our Mountain Running Home International.
I cannot thank Dorset Orthopaedics enough. They are a fantastic team who gave me hope that I could be mobile again. After 18 months on crutches, the feeling of walking out of the clinic with no ‘assistance’ was something that I cannot explain – I seriously had to hold back the tears!!”
“I was fitted with an NHS prosthesis but through my solicitor we were referred to Dorset Orthopaedic and I was fitted with a much better and lighter weight prosthesis. We started to pick up the pieces of our lives again….”
“Nearly five years ago on the 1st December 2007 our lives would change forever. I was parking our car outside our house ready to go shopping on that Saturday morning as I got out of the car and turned to lock the door I instinctively looked to my right and saw a car coming along but instead of going round me he carried straight on trapping my right leg between the wheel arch of our car and the front wheel arch of his car resulting in the eventual amputation of my right leg above the knee.
At that time my husband George was a week away from his 91st birthday and I was 75 years old.
Until that dreadful day we had both been very active, we went ballroom dancing twice a week, we playing indoor bowls, and when we went on holiday we always enjoyed walking. I also did my own baking, making bread & cakes, and dressmaking.
All that was to come to a stop, but when I came home from hospital after 3 weeks I made up my mind that I would learn to do with one leg what I used to do with two, of course it wasn’t that easy, and for the first nine or so months until we had a stair lift installed it was difficult, but between us we coped. I was fitted with an NHS prosthesis but through my solicitor we were referred to Dorset Orthopaedic and eventually I was fitted with a much better and lighter weight prosthesis.
We started to pick up the pieces of our lives again, with George’s help I soon started baking and a limited amount of dressmaking again and learned to drive an adapted car as unfortunately our holidays by coach were impossible due to the equipment we needed to take with us and my reduced mobility.
That did not stop us going on holiday as I drove the car, we still had holidays in Bournemouth, Skegness and Llandudno like we used to, I also started to dance again. So all in all we really enjoyed ourselves, my biggest achievement was being able to look after George and do lots of things for him that I used to do. For example, I would cut his hair, let him have a lie in and make him a cup of tea, little things that mean so much as he was getting older and slowing down. We looked after each other.”
Shahin Hibatalla and Parents
“Hiba will remember you sending her first silicone prothsesis before her birthday… and the big and kind heart that worked hard to make a child happy. A big thank you.”
We were living in Palestine when our daughter Hibatalla was born with a congenital amputation. Against the conventional advice of the time, but with the support of my brother Dr Mostafa, she was fitted with her first prosthesis when she was 9 months old. Our challenging decision and instincts were proven correct when she took her first steps at the tender age of 1, it was the happiest day of our lives. Soon thereafter she was getting about very quickly just like any other toddler.
A few years later we moved to Norway, unfortunately we had to visit various orthopedic centers before we could find someone who wanted to help with the constant pain and infection caused by an uncomfortable socket on Hiba’s prosthesis. Finding Anne Catrine and her colleague Arvid at the Drammen Orthopedics Institute (DOI) was a milestone in our lives as they managed to restore our family’s trust in the orthopedic profession and comfort to Hiba’s socket.
Until recently Hiba was happy without a silicone prosthesis but as children grow they become more bodily aware and so does their desire to ‘fit in’. We had a new hurdle to cross as the DOI does not make this type of prosthetic, therefore we would have had to return to a Centre that brought back bad memories for Hiba.
However, fate stepped in in the form of Anne Catrine and Dorset Orthopaedic.
Luckily for us it was at this time Dorset Orthopaedic were conducting one of their regular quarterly visits to the excellent Sofies Minde clinic to help with the silicone prosthetics. Anne Catrine came to our rescue once again! She made all the measurements for the new prosthetic and helped us liaise with the British team. We need not have worried as they brought back the humanity of our situation.
We want to take this opportunity to express our deep gratitude and respect to Wayne, Tori and Natalie who gave Hiba their love, care and time. We lack the words to express how thankful we are that they managed to finish the silicone prosthesis in time for Hiba’s birthday, it is the most precious gift she has ever received. She couldn’t stop looking at her foot all day.
Thank you for the generosity that you have shown our daughter, it takes very special people to dedicate their time to making others happy.
“Life without limits; the slogan used by Dorset Orthopaedic and quite fittingly so. Ten years ago I was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) that resulted in the amputation of my right leg below the knee; at the time I would never have thought I would be able to live a normal, active life again. If only I knew at the time how wrong I was.”
I bought two high definition cosmetic prosthesis from Dorset, one for day to day use and one for water sports. I am currently an avid polo player, bashing up and down a polo pitch which can only be likened to a mix between rugby and golf! I have been playing polo for around three years now and can honestly say my leg does not affect my ability to play in the slightest, although it would of course be nice to blame it on a day when I don’t play well!
In addition to polo I also love water sports such as wake boarding, rowing and sailing. I don’t believe disability needs to define how you live your life. A positive mental attitude and a fair bit of determination (in my opinion) will get you anywhere!
Dorset Orthopaedics’ ability to provide limbs that not only look real, right down to the definition in your toe nails, but to also provide limbs that enable people to be as active (or as inactive) as they like really makes their slogan of “life without limits” more true than ever.
I can honestly say my life would not be the same without mine. In fact I am eager to have more, perhaps for some cute heeled shoes on a night out! I have had my leg for about eight to nine years now and only this year am I having to think about re-covering it, so they definitely last the distance even if you are someone who likes to push the boundaries a little bit!
The leg I currently have has been through sky diving, dashes through water to get onto dinghies, the brutalities of polo and rowing, the list goes on. Everyone’s situation, disability and lifestyle preferences are different but I truly believe that with the right piece of kit there is no reason why anyone should hold back on what they want to do in life.
The world will always throw problems our way but as a wise person once told me, it’s how you get up from the knocks in life that make you who you are. So what’s on the list for this year? Well hopefully a fair bit of travelling, getting my yachting day skipper licence and learning to kite surf. Whether you are an active person or not, whether you love a quiet night in or partying the night away until the wee hours of the morning; the important thing to remember is that the only thing that matters is that what you are doing makes you happy; out of all the things in life that can get in the way “disability” should not be one of them.
With the right equipment and mind set you can achieve anything you want. I am always keen to help people to get back into sports where possible after suffering from a loss of limb and or injury and am happy to be contacted for support if there is anyone out there who would like a helping hand.
Thank you to Dorset Orthopaedic for making limbs that enable me to live the life I want, I sure hope to put your equipment to good use and hopefully push the boundaries of the “possible” whenever I can. See you soon for a re-cover!