In 2012, Heidi broke her ankle and due to the complications of having type one diabetes, her ankle never fully healed after many years. Heidi was given the choice between either permanently using a walking boot, with no guarantee of alleviating the pain, or having an amputation. In 2017, she bravely decided to have a below knee amputation.
Heidi had been using a fixed ankle for roughly a year, however, during her visit to her rehabilitation center in Utah and after speaking to her prosthetist, it was suggested she would benefit from an articulating foot, such as EchelonVAC. EchelonVAC is a hydraulic ankle that absorbs and damps on impact, self-aligns on rough and sloping surfaces, then remains dorsiflexed at toe-off. Paired with an elevated vacuum system, the design works to create a secure and comfortable socket connection.
Heidi has noticed a considerable benefit with EchelonVAC. As a full-time caregiver to her severely disabled son, EchelonVAC is able to accommodate the ramps in her home, making it easier compared to her fixed ankle. This has increased her stability and confidence while reducing the number of occasions she has fallen.
Previously, Heidi found difficulty pushing her son’s stroller over uneven ground. With EchelonVAC however, self-alignment ensures ground compliance on rough and varied terrain. “EchelonVAC has improved my confidence in walking and being able to care for my son, it has improved both of our lives.”
The most noticeable change of all however is the relief to the pain she was experiencing in her hips, “it has been life changing”. This is the result of EchelonVAC’s biomimetic design which helps to promote gait and postural symmetry, therefore preserving musculoskeletal health.
Looking ahead, Heidi is training for her first 5k event while pushing her son’s stroller. Having lost an incredible 100lbs through her training, she is looking forward to additional weight loss. Her advice to other amputees is “if I can do it, you can too!”.