I can remember as far back as 1986-87 having ongoing lower back pain, sometimes to the point of not being able to sit, stand or walk. I also have a leg length discrepancy of 2.0 inches on my right side. I come from a family with a history of lower back problems; my great grandfather, grandfather and my father, so for me this was nothing unusual. It wasn’t until around 15-16 years of age that I thought it was time to get this looked into. For years in and out of doctors’ offices and emergency rooms, I was told there was nothing wrong with my back –everyone suffers from lower back pain! After an x-ray almost every time I visited the medical offices, I was giving a muscle relaxer and pain medications, and then sent home with a pat on the back and a, ‘Good luck!’
Well, as luck would have it, my wife had an insurance change at her job in 2004 and we needed to shop for new doctors and primaries that accepted our new insurance. I had lived with this agonizing intermittent pain a good part of my life. At this point, I went to my new primary doctor with the same excruciating, lower back pain. I knew enough about my history that I knew what questions to ask: am I entitled to a MRI, should I get a nerve conductive study done? I had never had these tests completed in the past.
My new physician was extremely surprised that none of these tests have been previously done before, so she ordered a series of tests, the MRI, EMG, and an X-RAY. The MRI came back with showing results of L1, L2, L3, L4, L5, and S1 regions to be either extrusion, compressed, slipped, deteriorated, and crushed discs pressing on the nerve roots that run down both of my legs from the lumbar area of the spine resulting in a very bad mix of what I’ve been experiencing all my life. The EMG showed bad nerves from my waist down to my feet, no surprise to me cause of the numerous falls and the tired legs that I have always had. I was told that I had what is called a SPINAL CORD INJURY in the lumbar region that resulted in a SPINAL STROKE leaving me with incomplete paraplegia in the lower extremities.
From 2004 to 2008 I went at least once every 4 to 6 months for pain management, which at the present time I thought, was great relief. It was in 2008 that I noticed I started stumbling a lot more and again taking falls periodically. I went to my primary for a routine checkup and spoke to her about my recent mishaps, after some brief test in the office and a visit to a neurologist office it was determined that I had neurological problems with my feet causing DROP FOOT BILATERALLY.
I made an appointment with a script in hand for bilateral Ankle, Foot Orthosis (AFO). I wore these AFO’s from late 2008 to 2010. Everything was back to normal, well as normal that it could be, until late 2010 when I was finding myself sitting down more often than ever. I found myself extremely fatigued by mid-day, to the point I had a hard time walking and resorted to using crutches and the AFO’s to ambulate day to day.
This recent mishap had really hit home with me because of my line of work , which was a heavy duty diesel mechanic. I had to give up my work (this was a tough one for me). In September 2012, I went to my orthotist office and he evaluated me both at the beginning and end of the day to make an accurate determination of what was happening. He could see that on a scale of 1 to 5, from morning to late afternoon, I showed a huge difference of 1 being the worst that I showed more 1′s and 1.5 in the afternoon time.
At this time, he recommended the Knee, Ankle, Foot Orthosis (KAFO) brace. Together my orthotist, Jason Silke, from POA (Prosthetic and orthotic associates)and I researched a KAFO brace system that would accommodate my body weight of 270lbs. There wasn’t anything available except the Orthotronic mobility system (aka the C-Brace). This style KAFO was rated for body weights up to 275lbs. I was really pushing the weight limit, but we jumped in head first. I had an appointment with some very nice people from the company known as Ottobock and my orthotist Jason Silke from Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates. I was able to use the trial C-Braces and I showed a remarkable improvement of where I was with the AFO’S to where I could be with the technology of the C-Brace. So with all of the people that were in that room and seeing my brief progress, it was said that I would be a perfect candidate for the C-Brace technology. So we moved forward with the casting procedure.
It seemed like it took forever, but in reality it was a short time before I received my definitive C-Braces on April 3, 2013. This is a day I will never forget – it was almost like being REBORN. Since my debut back into the world with my C-Braces, my quality of life has improved dramatically. With help from my physical therapist, meeting 3 days a week for about 2 months, I am one of the few people that I know of that can ascend and descend stairs and hills with no problems at all while using the C-Brace technology. In fact, I do this so well I have been asked numerous times if I really need the C-Brace. My answer is, “Well, no, if I want to sit on the couch and watch life pass me by!”
I’m the first civilian in North America to receive a bilateral pair of the C-Brace technology. Since I started using this state of the art technology, the C-Brace, I have gone from underarm crutches, to forearm crutches, to 2 single tip canes, to 1 single tip cane, to nothing in less than 4 months. I really put these C-Braces to work for me; I wear them on the average of 10 to 14 hours a day. I was able to attend the AOPA event in Orlando, Florida in September of 2013. At the event, I was able to speak and meet with a lot of different people from all over the world, and answer most of their questions pertaining to the C-Brace technology. I also had the extreme pleasure to meet Ottobock’s CEO HANS GEORG NÄDER, and the talented people behind the technology of the C-Brace and so many more people I will never forget.
The one thing I missed the most in the past was being able to stand tall with my family, especially my 11 year old daughter. I wanted all this back and with the C-Brace technology I was able to get this back. The day my family and I left Orlando, Florida for our journey back home, we made a bit of a detour and spent the day at SEA WORLD. I walked proud and tall once again with my loving family, who has been there every step of the way with encouragement. On this particular day, I wore the C-Braces for 19 hours straight with no problems.
C-Brace technology has drastically improved my quality of life and I keep pushing those limits further everyday as long as the C-Brace allows me to. THANK YOU OTTOBOCK AND PROSTHETIC AND ORTHOTIC ASSOCIATES, you have given me my life back and most of all, my family back.