“It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it.”

In early May 2016, Chris Wood, a father of two and retired Account Manager from Northwich in Cheshire, discovered two scabs on his leg which undoubtedly changed his life.

At first, Chris thought the two scabs were insect bites but quickly noticed they were not getting better and were growing in size. Chris took the initiative to see his GP where he found himself returning every week for treatment and to have his scabs redressed. In early October, due to the situation becoming considerably more serious, Chris was rushed to the Royal Stoke Hospital where he was informed that due to severe blood circulation issues the wounds on his left leg would not heal and had become infected and gangrenous. Despite the hospitals best efforts to save his leg they had to amputate above the knee. Following a further operation on his aorta and a 7-week stay in the hospital, Chris was released from Royal Stoke in late November. “I was certain I was going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. It knocked me so far back, I was fearful for the future and how I was going to cope” explains Chris.

In January Chris was referred to the Heywood Limb Clinic in Stoke where he received his first Prosthetic leg from the NHS, “I was counting myself lucky to be alive and although my new leg was successful I was still extremely limited to what I could do”, said Chris. To improve his situation he visited the Dorset Orthopaedic Midlands Clinic and met Alice Hannah, his new Prosthetist, and Emily Brader his new Physiotherapist. After his initial consultation and discussion on what he wanted to achieve he was fitted with a new Genium X3 Microprocessor knee, this has given him back his freedom of movement and his confidence.

He attended Residential Rehabilitation at Dorset Orthopaedic which involves week-long courses of intense physiotherapy. “One of the challenges; was that my stump was getting smaller”, explains Chris “This meant that the suction would only last so long, and then as I put weight on my leg it would slip off or move which was sapping my confidence, but thanks to Alice, Emily, and the rest of the team, we found a different connection that keeps the prosthetic leg on, and is working well. With Emily’s physio regime and a lot of hard work we managed to conquer this challenge and I could continue building my confidence on my new leg.”

Chris attended numerous physio sessions, “At one point Emily came out to Northwich, where I live, I found it so helpful to practice on the different types of terrain I’m dealing with here, that day I saw so much progress”, said Chris. “Emily has been so helpful and pushed me out of my comfort zone to try things even my wife wouldn’t have been able to get me to do.”

After his long journey, Chris is now wearing his new leg comfortably and has come on leaps and bounds in the pursuit of his goals. He can live his life without the restrictions he once had, going on holidays and leading a more active lifestyle. Chris has recently bought a new home and keeps himself busy with his five Grandchildren whilst also enjoying his passion for gardening. He explained, “My Grandchildren have been a major motivation throughout everything, I would rather be out and about doing things with them than be stuck inside or confined to a wheelchair.”

Emily Brader, Chris’ physio commented, “Chris has progressed so much since he first started coming to Dorset Orthopaedic for his rehabilitation. Chris walked quite well on his NHS prosthesis however, he lacked confidence in it. Since I first saw Chris in June 2020, where he started his training on the Genium X3 in the parallel bars, his confidence has massively grown, both in his ability and the trust in his prosthetic limb. Chris now walks indoors and outdoors unaided with an excellent gait technique and he is ticking his goals off one by one! Following his rehabilitation in clinic, I spent some time at Chris’ home to help him with some goals he had in his house and garden. Chris’s confidence soared during my visit and it was great to see skills we had practiced in clinic being put to the test in his own home. Chris has worked incredibly hard and his determination is admirable. I’m excited to see how he continues to improve!”

When asked what advice Chris would give to anyone who finds themselves in a similar position to himself he said, “Positivity- you’ve got to stay positive. Something like this knocks you so far back but you must not worry about what you can’t do and instead focus on what you can do. I would recommend getting in touch with someone like Emily if you can also. She helped me out no end.”