A man who had his leg amputated ten years ago has been sharing his story with those about to have similar operations.
Far from it being a story of sadness, Allen Braden’s tale is one of how it stopped his pain, and hasn’t stopped him from doing the things that he loves.
Allen, from Westcliff-on-Sea, said: “I wanted to give something back to Southend Hospital for my fantastic after care and help reassure patients going down the same path.”
He’s just one of many patients who has benefitted from the hard work of prosthetists and orthotists, and now September 8 is the first ever Prosthetists and Orthotists Day, celebrating the role these staff play in promoting patient wellbeing, health and rehabilitation after amputation.
It’s now been over ten years since Allen had his upper left leg amputated. And although the 81-year-old may have lost his leg, it also gave him a renewed lease of life.
He said: “The pain was immense in my leg; it was like having it stuck in a vice that was getting tighter and tighter as a result of vascular problems to do with circulation and the narrowing of my arteries.”
Around 50 amputees a year receive post-op rehabilitation care at the hospital, as it is the local care centre for treatment. It’s also the place where patients can get their prosthesis calibrated, so it is a better fit and more comfortable. Most patients are aged over 65, but there are some that are younger.
Kevin Shreeve, lead physiotherapist for surgical and amputees, explained how the dedicated staff help patients. “We know that losing a leg, foot, arm or hand is a huge change for people, but we are here to help make that transition as smooth as possible by helping get patients used to using their new equipment.
“It is also vitally important they speak to people who have gone through the same process, like Allen, as they can talk about how they felt at the beginning and where they are now. It helps reassure people that there is still life after limb loss, and Allen is a great example of that.”
And losing his leg certainly hasn’t stopped Allen. He said: “Of course losing your leg is a life-changing thing, which you don’t realise until it happens to you. It changed my life, but the pain has gone and I’m still able to do all I could do before.
“I still love doing DIY, gardening and have even taken up bowls. I was very active when I was younger, doing lots of sports, so I wasn’t going to let losing a leg at 70 stop me from doing anything. In fact lots of my friends and family don’t even regard me as an amputee.”