Alan Denver becomes first person in Ireland to be fitted with Genium X3
The Genium X3 opening doors for Alan Denver
It was 21 March 2015 when Alan Denver was out on his motorbike riding along a beautiful coast road in Northern Ireland with two other friends, when a car overtaking on a blind-corner collided with him head on. The bike instantly disintegrated on impact and the car was left completely unrecognisable. Alan found himself lying on the road bleeding out at the scene with his right leg torn off just above his boot, a broken pelvis and compound fractures on his right arm among a series of other injuries.
Immediately after the crash, whilst still on the ground, Alan called his girlfriend to let her know he had been in an accident. At this point he had not realised how severe his injuries were. When he saw the pool of blood he tried to check what had happened and his friends had to hold him down to protect him from seeing the damage to avoid him going into shock.
Alan had lost a large amount of blood but fortunately two junior doctors, one specialising in trauma the other a surgeon, were also on that same road and came to his aid. They saved his arm, stemmed the bleeding and saved his life. “They were just what I needed right then”, said Alan, “If they hadn’t been there I would have no doubt lost my arm and probably wouldn‘t be here today; my blood pressure was down to twenty one beats per minute”.
Alan was also fortunate enough to have the Irish Coast Guard Search and Rescue helicopter (Rescue 116) carrying out manoeuvres in the area. It was therefore able to be diverted and quickly come to Alan‘s aid and then rapidly fly him to the Royal Victoria Hospital where a trauma team worked for over eight hours to save his life.
While recovering in hospital, Alan tried to come to terms with what had happened and spent his days researching what the best products available were to get him back to some kind of normality. He came across a video of an Ottobock ambassador wearing the Genium X3 and that was when he decided that the world’s most advanced computer controlled prosthetic leg was what he needed. He has now become the first person to be fitted in Ireland with a Genium X3.
The Genium X3 offers above-knee amputees the most natural gait possible and more physical capabilities than any other prosthetic leg. The X3 is made of corrosion resistant materials and designed for military use which makes this leg durable, waterproof; submersible up to three meters and virtually impenetrable by dust or dirt, and it also offers new modes never before available.
Due to NHS funding limitations Alan was not able to be fitted with the prosthesis in his local area and consequently travelled to the Ottobock Ireland clinic in Dublin, a specialist prosthetic and orthotic clinical service, who provide a service to all over Ireland from Cappagh Hospital.
When Alan was originally prescribed a mechanical leg he found it had some limitations which caused some issues for him. He is a medical engineer and part of his job requires him to carry a heavy toolbox on his shoulder and that proved to be very difficult. Another problem he came across was taking his five year old son, Reece and baby daughter Chloe swimming. Something he loved doing but after the accident was devastated that he might not be able to do anymore. “I didn’t want to go in the water with just my limb. I was worried what people might think”, said Alan.
Talking about Alan‘s rehabilitation, Alan’s prosthetist Donna Fisher said, “Rehabilitation is a long and painful process, both psychologically and physically and Alan was not getting on well with his mechanical leg. Alan, being a young and fit guy wanted to be able to get back to being productive again and the limitations of the original leg was holding him back. Since being fitted with the Genium X3, Alan has really experienced a dramatic change. Alan still has a long way to go, but you can really see how far he has come in just a short space of time”.
After being fitted with the X3 none of the previous problems were an issue. Speaking about his experience of going from his original mechanical leg to the X3 Alan comments, “When I was first fitted with the X3 I could immediately feel the difference; I could feel the X3 pushing back. It made me feel like running. That day I drove home with a massive smile on my face”. Alan continues, “The X3 has given me the support that I need so I can now carry out my job and not have to worry about hunching over or stumbling. It is also a good-looking leg, I’m quite proud of it and it‘s waterproof so I can now take my children swimming without any hesitation. Since that day the change has been huge. Just being able to do everyday tasks again has been really positive. I now offer to do the things I would have otherwise avoided; I feel like I am back in society again. I felt like I was a drain but now I am able to contribute once more”.
Jan Ottosson, Ottobock Ireland General Manager, said, “The Genium X3 can determine in real time the resistance and support the user needs from the leg allowing them to keep up with everyday activities including running, walking backwards and stepping over obstacles in a natural way. It intuitively performs all of the actions we take for granted, such as climbing stairs step-over-step, locking when we stand still and even sitting comfortably with a crossed leg. Once Alan has mastered how to use the leg he will be able to live life how he wants without having to think about stumbles and falls no matter his pace or whether he is going up or down steps or an incline”.
Alan is also a keen weightlifter and has already been able to start lifting weights again. “I tried doing some deadlifts and squats and the more pressure I put on the leg the more it pushed back. Being an engineer I find the way it works really fascinating”.
Being an active guy weightlifting isn’t the only sport Alan has started looking at. Alan has been in touch with organisations such as disability sport NI who introduced him to a list of other sports he can get involved with. “I’m keen to try out some of these sports which I previously hadn’t event thought of taking up. I would love to try a running blade but obviously I will need to master the X3 first. As a competitive guy and since the accident I feel like new doors have opened up for me. I can now see myself being able to compete at club level or who knows you may see me at the Paralympics. It is infectious when you meet people and see what they can do; it has given me a sense that I too can accomplish these things,” said Alan.
Alan has also received help and support from his employers DMI Limited who have adapted his van so he can easily get around and complete his work. He has also been in contact with professional motorcyclist and 11 time Isle of Man TT winner, Michael Dunlop, who has kindly offered to help him modify his motorbike so he can ride again.
At the start of his recovery Alan had someone to help him. They provided him with advice around what is out there and gave him hope that it isn’t the end of the world and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Alan is now part of a buddy system and helps others who have gone through a similar experience.
Speaking of his experience, Alan said, “The X3 has not only boosted my confidence but also given me the reassurance I needed to know that while my life has changed I can still get on with my life and embark on new adventures. The X3 has allowed me to reclaim my life”.