Eliza Ault-Connell's Pro-Flex Story
At the age of 16, Eliza Ault-Connell contracted Meningococcal Disease. Two days after contracting the disease and whilst being in a coma, her parents made the life-saving decision to amputate both her legs below the knees. Later on, Eliza made the decision to have her fingers amputated to reduce the risk of re-infection.
Eliza was fitted with prosthetic legs and has since went on to represent Australia in the Commonwealth Games, Olympics and Paralympics as a track and wheelchair athlete.
Eliza shares her experience with the Pro-Flex feet.
"In the past I have only ever used a basic foot, which was enough to get by, but not thrive with.
I love the fact that the Pro-Flex allows my gait to be as natural as possible and gives me practical movement that allows me to perform movements that amputees usually struggle with, balance particularly!"
Since being fitted with the Pro-Flex, Eliza has been able to achieve so much more out of her day.
"Everyone comments on how natural my gait is and how much more I am able to do, which is a lot even by an amble bodied person’s standards!
I am able to put my legs on at 4.30am and train my session then take clients through their sessions, look after 3 kids and still be able to walk right up until bedtime - something that, prior to Pro-Flex, I would be fatigued by the afternoon. Now nothing stops me!"
Eliza comments that not only are the Pro-Flex feet functional, but the best part of them is the fact that they look great also.
"I have always covered up technology with beige covers; this time I opened for something more robotic and mechanical and I love the fact you can see each part moving and performing its function.
After being an amputee for 20 years, the Pro-Flex has been the greatest gift. To once again feel the confidence and freedom to literally stride out in life and be the best I can be.
Cathy Howells on Eliza's Pro-Flex Experience
When I first came across the RHEO KNEE XC, Brad instantly came to mind. The additional features it offers (e.g. running, cycling, up-stairs modes) on top of those already offered in the RHEO KNEE seemed like a great option for unlocking some of the potential of such an active prosthetic user. The articulation of the Pro-Flex foot module without the use of any hydraulics or microprocessor technology also took my interest, as restriction in ankle range of motion is a common factor which limits a large proportion of all lower limb amputees. As such I was keen to trial the new knee and foot, as was Brad.
Upon first trialling the knee and foot it didn’t take long for Brad to figure out how to use it properly, particularly with him having worn the second generation RHEO KNEE for the last five years. Walking on level ground felt and appeared much similar to Brad’s second generation RHEO KNEE. The only difference he felt was due to the alternate foot module being used. He reported the impact upon weight acceptance of the sound limb to be lessened. This is consistent with observations made during objective gait analysis of an increase in the amount of dorsiflexion in the prosthetic ankle and a lesser elevation in the body centre of mass during the mid- to terminal-stance phases of the prosthetic limb.
While there was more compliance in the ankle, Brad didn’t report any loss of energy return, but rather that it was quickly given in the pre-swing phase of stance, rather than progressively building up through terminal stance and into pre-swing. Furthermore, he did not feel any difference or loss in shock attenuation despite now not using the Re-Flex Rotate. However, this was only reported after use whilst walking at a self-selected walking speed on level ground. The shock absorption capacity of the foot may ring true when he partakes in activities of a higher impact level.
David Howells on Eliza's Pro-Flex Experience
I have some video of Eliza on that first day, and when I watch her now some 12 months later it is amazing to see the transformation in her gait particularly her balance. It is much more symmetric and less mechanical.
With her high degree of functionality, she is no longer restricted by the limitations of her previous feet.
From a prosthetist’s eye, it seems the ankle motion of the Pro-Flex allows the client to concentrate on what the upper body is doing through the stance phase of gait (core) and provides a full carbon foot to prevent any early drop off which makes for a more symmetric and energy efficient gait.