Walking Tall

To be upright albeit on one leg, but without the agony of shoulder pain from crutches is a new feeling to me. I have walked on crutches for 26 years after losing my leg in a car accident. This was in between many unsuccessful prosthetic fits, and then 2 years ago I had a dreadful fall that ruptured my shoulder and left me in a wheelchair as I had no prosthesis and much difficulty and pain using crutches. I did continue the use of crutches for almost 6 months after the fall, but it became increasingly difficult and more painful. A wheelchair was my only option, and so I went from being a very active amputee on crutches to a very inactive wheelchair user. This saw me gain over 50 pounds and also lose a lot of muscle tone and strength.

In Nashville, this August [2004] at the Amputee Coalition of America annual convention, I spied a device that intrigued me as soon as I saw it. Joe Schrader was there with his booth, Hartford Walking Systems, featuring The ED Walker. It is a neat looking device that first off reminded me of a wheel-less bicycle. It has a solid pylon with an all weather slightly flexible foot attached at the bottom, and a set of stabilizer feet. The seat is not unlike a bicycle seat and the handlebars allow great control over the device.

One simply mounts it as you would a bicycle and starts walking. The pylon acts as that other leg, it's so simple!

I found walking on this device easy and quite comfortable, compared to the use of crutches as there is no outward pressure on my shoulder, and so maneuverability is quite stress free. I have walked on smooth surfaces, uneven, and wet ones and found it to be quite stable, safe and sound.

It especially takes pressure off the base of my spine after sitting a long while, and has made a difference to how I get around. Ease of movement for getting the mail in, standing at the kitchen bench working and those necessary bathroom trips in the middle of the night to name a few instances of use. On an even surface, I make good time and good going, and can scoot around quite well.

It is my belief that anyone who is an amputee, with one good leg, can easily find great benefit from this device, as it allows a seating stance when tiredness sets in, and also allows the amputee to retain the sense of balance and mobility whilst waiting to be fitted for a prosthetic, or even while allowing wounds on the residual limb to heal.

After not having taken steps for 18 months, this was a very wary, but excited me! I purchased one of these devices and am working with Mr. Schrader in endeavoring to perfect the ED Walker so it becomes a part of life to our many amputees. I have pelvic problems that are diminishing the more I walk, and also I find my knee, which has a tendency to retain fluid, is more flexible since starting to walk on the ED Walker.

Using the ED Walker is as natural now as walking to me. I can maneuver up and down slopes, in snow, sand and on tufty grass. It's a boon to my life as it increases my ability to do things--especially in the garden. I can rake, carry things, sweep, skim the pool, carry buckets... And all with more ease than when I was using crutches, because the ED Walker has a seat that allows you to take the strain off the knee.

My dog likes it when I walk -- better than the chair. He is beside me in most that I do when I am upright, so the companionship with him is closer now too. When I am in my wheelchair he is close, but cannot readily judge my next move so tends to keep a distance.

The most fun I have had with the walker though is playing ball with the dogs. I can kick a ball, chase it, and the dogs both love the interaction this allows me. It's also good for my fitness regime.

When I started to use the ED Walker in October [2004], I had visions of using it for a few different things, but never realized I would choose to grab it to scoot out and get the mail, the papers and feed the birds. Now it's a way of life, and though I still use my chair for the dreaded big shopping trips, I tend to use the walker for doctors visits, hairdressers, etc. –any place that I can manage without having to walk a long time.

My lower back is 100% better than it used to be and I have a greater flexibility in all body movements. I think the best thing though is that I am able to reach, stretch and bend, far better in an upright stance, thus allowing my body to operate at an improved metabolic rate. I feel it and I have the renewed bathroom habits to prove it!

--- Wendy H.

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