Jason Parker's Mobility Clinic Story - Part 2

I arrived at the 2022 Össur Mobility Clinic with a strange mixture of excitement and trepidation.  When I attended my first Mobility Clinic in 2019 I went with no expectations and a sense of adventure.  Why may you ask?  In 2019 I was a single left leg below knee amputee, however in 2022 I was going as a bilateral below knee amputee.  My world had changed so much during Covid-19 and the last Mobility Clinic.  I knew the faces would be the same but what about me and my ability to move safely and independently.  It was an honour just to be there and the Össur family greeted me on the first night with such warmth and enthusiasm.  The team at Össur hadn't seen me since I had lost my second leg, so I asked a number of the Ossur Champions for advice as to how to make this event a success for me.  This time my partner was attending, and I hoped she would connect with some other family members of amputees to help her in this crazy journey.

Day one came and I met a number of amazing people gathering for coffee before proceedings started.  After the formalities, we all joined in with a wonderful dancing warm up session run by Cathy Howells, an authority on amputees as the "one who wrote the book", literally.  It wasn't very long before Chris Nunns, Australian Paralympic Coach, Chef de Mission and AM had us working on our posture for walking which then moved to a slow jog, and before I knew it, I was running again!  Now things for bilateral amputees aren't just twice as hard a single amputee, but in fact infinitely harder. I was over the moon and watched the other amputees embrace this amazing opportunity.  The smiles on everyone's faces and the sweat said it all!

After another series of runs, jogs and movement which I didn't think was ever possible again, we moved to the main sports centre where we did another series of exercises (Tabata) and these were done as a group.  We all learnt how to do these exercises safely as we were allocated a specific health professional (physios, prosthetists and exercise physiologists).  The "grey shirts" were an outstanding support over the two days and their presence was reassuring for every one of the amputee athletes.  We all went home laughing and sharing our stories, but we knew we would sleep very well.

On day two, my most exciting moment had arrived.  This morning meant I could finally trial a pair of Cheetah Explorer blades.  After the team at Össur fitted them and I was able to find my balance, I just couldn't stop!  I ran for the next three hours and I did things that I never thought were ever possible.  It was freeing and exhilarating. I think a number of the other athletes were encouraged to try the blades as well and before we knew it, we were back running on the tennis court.  I was so sweaty, I had to change into 3 other t-shirts but what a wonderful day we all had.  Lunch meant sharing stories and experiences with the athletes and Healthcare Professionals and it was brilliant.  We finished the day’s activities with another highlight, Yoga with Phoebe.  To learn how to move safely and within your physical restrictions was an eye-opening session.  I have incorporated many of these exercises into my daily routine.  Sadly, the clinic had ended but lifelong memories and friends were made.

After Mobility Clinic, the Össur family and my new friends in the amputee community have changed my life.  The encouragement and support have been nothing short of amazing and I cannot wait until the next one in 2023.  I hope we can get more amputees to this event.  Thank you to all of those involved in making this happen.