In the News
Murray Hambro is no ordinary motorcycle racer. For a start, the 33-year-old is racing in a national championship after just a handful of races.
Secondly, he and his team are all novices.
Finally, he is a double amputee, with no legs from just below the knee.
In December 2010, Hambro was serving as a Lance Corporal in theSecond Royal Tank Regiment in Afghanistan when his tank drove over a 65kg roadside bomb.
Hambro, who was at the top of the tank in the turret, was sent flying by the force of the explosion. So was a passenger in the tank.
“The explosion blew all the doors off and the passenger was projected out of the vehicle,” explains Hambro.
“He lost one of his legs and his spleen. I was sent 40 feet up in the air, came down and landed on my side. My injuries included breaking all the bones in my feet, breaking my pelvis, ripping my liver and spleen, six fractured vertebrae at the top of my neck, and the all-important one, I cut my nose.
“It was a pretty big one.”
The driver was also injured, suffering a broken arm and a broken ankle. “He got lucky,” says Hambro.
First on the scene was a colleague from the vehicle directly behind.
“He leapt out and did the whole Baywatch thing,” Hambro recalls. “Running in slow motion through the dust and dirt.
“He gave me first aid and just sorted me out. He told me not to look at my legs and made sure I got out of there alive.”
Hambro gave his son Harley, who was born in March 2013, the middle name Nicholas, after the friend who risked his life to give him that first aid.
After being evacuated under fire to Camp Bastion in Helmand Province and then being transported on to the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Hambro remembers the feeling of relief when he was told by a consultant he had fractured both feet in the explosion.
“I was happy with that,” he says. “I thought: ‘Well, a bit of plaster for maybe six to eight weeks and I’ll be up and about again.’
“But then he said: ‘The right one is a no-brainer, it’s got to come off. We could try to rebuild the left but you will be in and out of hospital for the next two to three years and the end result could be you lose it anyway.’
“So I thought: ‘While they’re at it they may as well have both feet.’ Within 48 hours of getting to hospital, I was a double amputee.”
The naturally optimistic Hambro admits having “a few bad days” coming to terms with losing his legs. After 11 years in the army, he was facing an uncertain future but was determined to walk again by August 2011, in time for his wedding.
In fact, he managed to take his first steps by the end of February, just three months after his double amputation.
He was back out on the roads on a newly-modified motorbike by April of that year, against the advice of his surgeons.
“After my operation, the surgeon asked me what my hobbies were,” he remembers. “I told him: ‘I ride motorbikes.’ He looked at me and told me to get a new hobby.”
But Hambro, who had started riding motorbikes at the age of seven in fields near his home, was not to be deterred. After a particularly bad day of pain and discomfort, he treated himself to a new Triumph motorbike.
He did not know if he would even be able to ride without legs but set about finding out.
The rear brake, which is normally operated by the right foot of a motorcyclist, is now housed on the right handlebar and is controlled by Hambro’s thumb.
The gear lever, usually operated by a rider’s left foot, has been replaced by up and down shift buttons on the left handlebar. A similar system is used on Hambro’s race bike.
Moving about on the bike was the biggest problem, as he found his feet were slipping off the footpegs. So he drilled a hole in his boot to allow him to ‘attach’ it to the bike. That helped a lot.
Being back on the road was an important step in proving that his disability would not prevent him leading the life he wanted to.
“I was nervous the first time I went out on the road,” Hambro says. “I didn’t know what to make of it.
“But my family were just as keen for me to get out on the bike as I was. My wife and I used to go out together a lot before, with her on the back, so to be able to do that again was great. She loves it. It gave us some normality back.”
After getting married, Murray was introduced to Phil Spencer, who asked if he would be interested in joining his race team, True Heroes Racing. Hambro had never ridden competitively before.
The team is run in association with theAfghan Heroes charity , which was set up by Denise Harris, the mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan, and aims to help wounded service personnel who have returned to the UK.
Despite admitting that they had no real idea what they were doing, Spencer and Hambro managed nine weekends of club racing last year before securing a place in this season’sTriumph Triple Challenge, a support class in the British Superbike championship.
“My first race was very daunting,” Hambro admits. “I still had my road riding head on, guys were coming up to lap me and I was just pulling over and letting them through.
“I didn’t know what to expect to be honest. I then got chatting to the other racers and they told me I had to be more aggressive and hold my lines. So I adopted that philosophy and stuck to it.
“Overtaking my first rider felt like a race win.”
This season has not been straightforward for True Heroes Racing. They have suffered technical problems, struggled to set up a new bike after it arrived late, while Hambro slid into a tyre wall at Thruxton after an 80 mile-per-hour crash.
He has approached all these obstacles with the same black humour. After all, this is a man who has “LEGLESS” embroidered on the back of his race leathers and a tattoo of himself being blown up on his back. He also has a personalised number plate that spells out “No Feet” on his car.
When he says he doesn’t do “self-pity”, he certainly means it.
True Heroes Racing are already looking to expand next season and hope to be able to help other injured serviceman who are coming through rehab get a new lease of life.
“My job used to involve people throwing grenades at me. so I guess it makes racing less scary,” Hambro says.
“I still get nervous on the track but you’d be crazy if you weren’t. I know that nothing serious will happen to me. The worst-case scenario is a broken bone or two.”
He says his naturally positive mindset and “sick” sense of humour have been key in adapting to his new life.
“In Afghanistan, everyone is out to kill you so it’s a different ball game altogether,” he says. “There are low points, days when it is painful and you struggle to get up and think: ‘Why isn’t this working?’ But I don’t have too many.
“If I feel like I’m having a bad day, then I do something to cheer myself up. The team name is True Heroes, but I don’t consider myself a hero at all. If anything, I was stupid enough to get blown up.”
LimbPower Trustee Damian MacDonald lined up with thirty thousand other eager competitors to take part in the 2013 Virgin London Marathon, but Damian had the added challenge of doing this as a below knee amputee.
Damian had his left leg amputated below the knee in April 1987 as the result of injuries sustained during a road traffic accident. Damian spent the next 20 years managing his life but without a network of support from others in the same situation.
All that changed in 2008 when he attended the Amputee Games (now the LimbPower Games) and got involved with cycling. He was overjoyed to discover a whole community of amputees and has been dedicated ever since to expanding that community and reaching other amputees who are isolated as he once was.
In 2010 Damian was invited to become a Trustee of LimbPower and has since completed many challenges on behalf of the charity, such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in 2010, cycling from London to Paris in 2011 and completing the 100km NightRider event last year.
However, running was a new challenge for Damian and it was with some trepidation that he took his place on the start line for the London Marathon. “It was a fantastic experience. The support from the public and other participants was even greater than anticipated and without a doubt helped keep me smiling through the discomfort over the last 25 miles…” Damian recalls, “I can now tick ‘Complete A Marathon’ off my bucket list.“
LimbPower were very proud to see Damian achieve such an ambitious goal and were there to cheer him on. Chairman Kiera Roche said; “This was such a personal goal for Damian and it was fantastic to see him do it. He’s an inspiration for so many amputees and we are very grateful to have him as part of our team.”
For more info on LimbPower visit their website: limbpower.com
Spectators at a children’s triathlon in Florida were brought to tears by the sight of Marines carrying a little boy with a broken prosthetic leg across the finish line.
Bone cancer-survivor Ben Baltz, 11, was participating in his third triathlon of the summer when he had an accident with his prosthetic leg Sunday during the final portion of the race.
“The screws came loose and it fell off and the Marine picked me up and he ran the rest of the way,” Ben said. “It was pretty nice.”
His mother, Kim Baltz, was waiting at the finish line and wondering where he son was when she heard the announcer say, “Turn around and look at what’s happening on the course.”
She turned around to see Ben riding on a Marine’s back, surrounded by five other Marines.
“It just made me start crying that they would have picked him up and helped him finish the race,” she said.
The Marine who carried Ben was Pfc. Matt Morgan of San Diego, Calif. Morgan, 19, has been in the Marines for a year and is based in Pensacola, Fla. A group of Marines had come to the Sea Turtle Tri to volunteer.
“I’d seen him many times in the race. He was doing very well,” Morgan said of Ben. “It came to the final leg of the race where it was a run and I was sitting at the halfway point with people that were passing out water and we were motivating some of the contestants. And as he approached the halfway point, his prosthetic failed and he fell.”
A group of Marines ran to Ben to see whether he was all right, but by the time they got to him, Ben had already jumped up and was trying to fix his leg. Morgan asked him whether he needed help.
“He said no, he’d finish by himself and he continued to try and fix his prosthetic. But after a couple seconds, he knew there was something wrong with it and he was going to need a hand,” Morgan said.
“We saw Pfc. Morgan carrying him and that’s when all the Marines lined up,” Gunnery Sgt. Wilbur Anderson, who coordinated the event, said. “We got into column of twos. I ran up to Ben and I said, ‘Hey, you’re going to be taken home by the Marines today.’ And we made it to the finish line. It was a truly moving day.
“He was going to finish the race no matter what, but I told him to jump on and we finished the race together,” Morgan said.
Capt. Frank Anderson, Morgan’s commanding officer, said he was not at all shocked by what he saw.
“I was shocked [with] the publicity, but I wasn’t surprised in Pfc. Morgan’s actions,” Anderson said. “That’s something we do as Marines. It’s that unwavering dedication to our fellow Marines and competitors in this case.”
Ben was diagnosed with bone cancer in his right leg when he was 6 and had his tibia and fibula amputated. He has different prosthetics for walking and running. The avid athlete plays soccer and basketball in addition to running, biking and swimming for triathlons. He says biking is his favorite.
“There’s no child like him [in our area], so we encourage him to participate in activities and he’s very athletic and it just doesn’t stop him,” Kim Baltz said. “He’s just your normal kid and he just happens to have a prosthetic leg.”
Baltz said Ben does not understand how much of an inspiration he is to others. He often meets with other children who are getting amputations, have gotten amputations or are preparing for chemotherapy. He brings the prosthetics that he has outgrown for them to play with and shows them how he can run with his.
“It helps to see other kids survive and make it,” Baltz said. “They realize they can have a life after cancer and after amputation.”
Ben will be reunited with the Marines who helped him out this afternoon in Pensacola.
“Pfc. Morgan did the right thing at the right time for the right reasons and accomplished a mission for himself and that young boy, Ben, so I’m happy,” Capt. Anderson said. “I’m looking forward to meeting the lion heart named Ben.”
Copyright 2012 by ABC News
My feet were such agony I got married in my wellies… but why are prescription shoes so ill-fitting and ugly to boot?
Good article from the Daily Mail….
Sally Underwood has a cupboard full of shoes she never wears. Yet she’s not a fickle shopaholic — she simply can’t find a shoe to fit. Last year, she wore cream wellies for her wedding. Day-to-day, she lives in a pair of worn-out boots. Since she was 15, Sally has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, where the body’s immune system attacks the joints.Like nine out of ten of the 400,000 Britons with the condition, she has disabling foot pain and deformity. And, also like most sufferers, she’s been given orthotic insoles — custom-made supports for shoes. The problem is, they won’t fit in a single pair.
Orthotics is the standard treatment, not just for rheumatoid arthritis but also for hundreds of thousands of people with diabetes, polio or neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, who often suffer severe problems with their feet. But studies show most patients find orthotics no help at all with mobility. Also, the insoles require deeper and wider footwear than usual — often in the form of prescription shoes. But these are so ugly and uncomfortable that many people can’t bring themselves to wear them.
Some experts describe the situation as scandalous. And Sally, 36, a knitwear designer from Hastings, says: ‘It’s taken me a long time to manage my symptoms, but at last I’ve got a life that works. ‘Or at least it would if I could only get my feet sorted out. ‘I am expected to wear an orthotic insert to enable me to walk more easily — but I can’t find shoes that fit.’
To read the full article click here
I have copied this over from another O&P Forum as I believe it shows how not all Prosthetic components need to be expensive.
Hello, my name is Aden Díaz Nocera and I’m from Argentina. Here in Argentina we do not have commercial developments of upper-limb myoelectrical prosthetics, so the only way to have access to this kind of prosthesis is importing them and the prices are really high to some people. Following the idea that every people should have access to a prosthesis (or anything) that may help them, a development of a low-cost open-source upper-limb myoelectrical prosthesis has begun two and a half years ago, with the goal of share all of the technical information of this development.
During the development, a new goal came onto the workshop: to develop a Training System to train the future user of the prosthesis to have accurate control of the muscle he/she is going to use to command the prosthesis. At this time an upper-limb (over the elbow) myoelectrical prosthesis has been developed. This prosthesis (called EMP ElectroMyoProthesis) has six grades of freedom with servos: one for each finger and one for the elbow.
Also the Training System is working. This system is a software developed in LabView reads the myoelectrical signal which is already amplified and filtered, from the serial port, plot it in a graph and moves a 3D model of an arm on the screen when the signal amplitude is over an edge set by the user.
In this website: www.lifesi.com.ar you will have access to the technical information of the developments, including the code of the Training System. I hope this will be helpful. “Medicine and Bioengineering progress could be consider real achievements for Humanity only when every people have access to its benefits and stop being a privilege for minorities.” – René Favaloro (Argentinian Medical Doctor)
Aden M. Díaz Nocera
Life Integral Solutions