Right Leg for the Job

Written by Don Elgin

As an amputee I know how important it is to have the right leg for the job. Six years after retiring from elite sport, I was looking for a new challenge. At just about this time, I learned that the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games were to include the discus throw for leg amputees – a first in Comm Games history.

I teamed up with an old mate – prosthetist and former discus-thrower Richard Fejer from OAPL – to assist me in achieving my goal of a return to competition. After a few months of training, we began looking at ways of getting my body in the best position to maximize the distance of my discus throws. After discussing my Commonwealth Games plans with my sponsors APC Prosthetics and Ossur, I was encouraged to work closely with Richard to optimise my Commonwealth Games experience. I am extremely grateful to APC and Ossur for their understanding and support.

Richard introduced me to the Fillauer Wave Sport – the same leg that Danish athlete and good friend Jackie Christiansen wears. Having trained and competed with Jackie, I had no doubt that the Wave Sport could handle the intensity of elite-level training, although until then I’d never worn it. I found the most notable difference was the ease of energy returned and the speed of getting across the circle when throwing.

Don discus rotation

Another very big positive is the durability and versatility of the Wave Sport. Wearing it, I’m completely stable and have rapid return of energy when required for responsive exercises such as skipping with a rope, jogging and other cross-fit activities. There is no need to change legs as my training varies.

Arguably the biggest plus I’ve experienced throughout this campaign has been the opportunity to experience the amazing work of Carl Caspers and witness his unwavering quest for amputee comfort which has culminated in the EMS socket design. Satisfied with the pin-design socket I was familiar with, I was reluctant to change to an air expulsion system. Initially I experienced trouble at the top of my leg where the sleeve ended, but careful management of this problem with moisturising lubricant enabled me to eliminate the friction and marks at the point of contact. Only then was I able to fully appreciate the comfort and overall advantage of the EMS flexible inner socket.

Don discus

The EMS socket is produced via a 3-stage casting technique that takes the changing stump shape range from 90 degrees, 14 degrees and full extension. From this cast, a check socket is produced and fitted, and the model sent to EMS so the custom flexible liner can be manufactured. Once the liner is received, the rest of the socket model is produced for the final fitting. The result is a socket product that expands and contracts around the knee, maintaining total contact, stability and control. At no point does the socket bridge or pull away when sitting, avoiding stress on the suspension sleeve.

Under the incredible load and torsional forces generated through my stump when rotating in the discus circle, I was previously prone to some discomfort and development of pressure points. These pressures were eliminated as a result of the urethane liner interface and the flexible EMS inner socket, which allow for movement and dissemination of load that is not achievable with conventional sockets.

With the EMS system and Wave Sport combination, I’m confident I’ll be giving myself the best chance of an optimal outcome in Glasgow.



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