“I was hopeful that something would come up in the future, science never stands still”
A head on collision left motorcyclist Cameron as an above the knee amputee. Having abandoned his prosthetic leg after years of problems with a shorter stump, Cameron was able to raise funds for life changing Osseointegration surgery. Within the 12 months that followed, IT consultant Cameron has walked through the rainforest in Peru and is enjoying his love of music festivals again without the use of a wheelchair.
Cameron’s story begins in 2004 when he had his lower right leg amputated due to a severe injury resulting from a road traffic accident. Initially he received a prosthesis, which he managed to get used to with the support of crutches; “I was determined to walk into a pub unaided by Christmas...I had to get used to the pressure around the socket”. Cameron adjusted quite well to wearing his new leg, as prior to his accident he had received various knee supports for an existing injury on his right side. Unfortunately, the next 7 years would see Cameron visit the hospital for numerous revisions to his prosthesis, where the soft tissue had collapsed causing pain and discomfort. “As the years went on, the operations got more frequent to the point where I had three in two years…I recovered; had a new socket made; I’d start walking and be in pain; and then the cycle repeated” he remembers. Each time Cameron had surgery his stump became shorter so he decided to abandon his prosthetic, relying on crutches and a wheelchair for the next 7 years.
This transition was a difficult time for Cameron. As a music enthusiast, he was unable to visit clubs and festivals, as many venues were not wheelchair accessible. Even with crutches, there were risks of slipping on wet floor and navigating through an unpredictable crowd. “The places I would be able to go to with a little bit of difficulty with a prosthesis, I could no longer go to without”. Cameron felt his social circle close and this affected his mental health too, “I had to deal with physical issues and on top of that I was compounded with isolation and loneliness”.
Reflecting back to when he first had his accident, Cameron remembers watching the 2004 Paralympian’s compete using their prosthetic limbs, from his hospital bed. “I remember watching it thinking this is amazing…in my head I was hopeful that something would come up in the future, science never stands still”. Luckily for Cameron, this proved true when he came across Osseointegration; a relatively new procedure where a titanium implant is fitted directly into the bone allowing a prosthetic leg to be connected to it and in 2017, had successfully been performed on one patient in the UK for upper limb. He met with the surgeon Munjed Al Muderis who also put him in touch with Dorset Orthopaedic for his post op rehabilitation programme.
Determined not to miss this opportunity, Cameron was able to raise the funds for the surgery and in April 2018, became the first lower limb amputee to receive Osseointegration in the UK.
Three days after the surgery, Cameron left the hospital and was able to start his Residential Rehabilitation programme at Dorset Orthopaedic. Mary Tebb, a physiotherapist at Dorset Orthopaedic remembers, “there had been no direct load going through Cameron’s short right thigh. It had resulted in the bone becoming quite weakened and hence his initial loading programme after the surgery had to be taken quite slowly. This meant that he had to gently push down on a pair of scales with a special attachment on the end of his Osseointegrated leg to a defined amount twice a day for thirty minutes. He also had a number of other exercises to do to compensate for his lowered activity during the recovery period”.
For Cameron things moved quickly once he had his C-Leg attached to the titanium implant and although there were a few setbacks, he made some vast achievements with his new leg. By November, he took a trip to Peru with friends and walked his first few steps in the Peruvian rainforest without crutches.
2019 saw Cameron find his confidence again in doing the things he loved. A keen music enthusiast; Cameron attended a weekend in London without walking support “it was the first time I had been clubbing without crutches for the best part of 15 years”. Following on from this achievement he also visited Ozoro music festival in Hungary he had been to years before -except this time without a wheelchair. “It changed the whole feeling I had at the festival, when you’re on crutches or in a wheelchair, you’re constantly planning your next move …is there a step there? Is there a plank here? It distracts you and you can’t relax fully”.
His hike up the peak Pen-Y-Fan in July 2019 was a particularly poignant milestone. “When I was growing up I spent most of my summers hiking in the Lake District, but after my accident when I drove through the area there was always that sadness, because I couldn’t get to the top of the hills. So when I reached the top of Pen-Y-Fan, I cried because I had thought I’d never do this again”. His 900m climb was unassisted despite other hikers using a stick for support.
Looking back on 2019 Cameron proudly recollects “what I achieved in that last year is more than I achieved in the last 7 years when I was wearing a socket”. Choosing Osseointegration over a socket fitting means Cameron doesn’t have to deal with blisters from friction and if his C-leg does get uncomfortable, he has the freedom to remove it himself.
Cameron explains, “Osseointegration is massively important, I would recommend it in a heartbeat”.
Click here To find out more about what Osseointergration.