Amputees advised: “Work with what you have.”

AMPUTEE patients and relatives were offered support and advice from a man who lost his leg 30 years ago, at an event organised by the physiotherapy team at Basildon and Thurrock Hospitals.

Rikk Cahill, who had a motorbike accident at the age of 19, shared his experiences with a group of patients in the amputee rehabilitation gym at Basildon Hospital. He told the group that he deals with his situation by working with what he has, and noticing people who are worse off than himself.

“Being an amputee is normal for me now,” he said. “You will have days when you feel the world is against you but the bad days get less as you go on. When I see my elderly neighbour struggling to walk on snow and ice, I think it is stupid to feel sorry for myself when I am so much better off than her.

“I walk up to two miles a day, but one of the views I see most is the floor, because you have to watch the surface very carefully so you don‟t fall over. Your body works in a different way, and you have to change the way you walk, especially in snow or ice.”

Rikk emphasised how important it would be for the amputees to carry on practising and exercising when they leave the care of the physiotherapy team, and said that keeping fit and maintaining a steady weight has a huge effect on how amputees can manage their condition.

“When you are missing an ankle, your hips and back take more strain and you have to compensate for that,” he said.
Rikk plays basketball in a specially designed wheelchair. He said he finds it irritating when people use clichés such as: „You can do anything‟ and thinks it is better to accept there are things you can‟t do.

“I can‟t play Sunday league football without spoiling the game for other people,” he said. “But I can play basketball, and it has changed my body dramatically.”

He also gave practical advice on what to wear; shorts make it easier to put on prosthetic legs, but for winter, cycling trousers with side zips are useful.

One of the guests, Colin Webb, had his left leg amputated below the knee in June this year, due to chronic osteomyelitis, a bone infection. Colin, 54, from Billericay, is a head of logistics at technology company, Konica Minolta. He said: “The rehab at Basildon Hospital is very good. They will give you the tools, the support and the guidance but you have to have the right mind-set to want to do it. I want my life back, not just for me but for my wife and daughters.”

He added: “Rikk‟s talk was really interesting; he gave us good information and he connected with people well. I understand his view because my way of dealing with the amputation was spending time with a young man on my ward who was in a bad way.”

ampAnkie Postma, physiotherapist, said: “We hope to run these events regularly. We can offer rehabilitation, but we have not been through what the patients have, and it can really benefit them to talk in depth to another person who understands how they are feeling.”

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