Ollie Dousset's PRO-FLEX® XC, Balance™ Foot S and Cheetah® Xplore Story


I lost my leg four years ago in a motorbike accident in Indonesia. Before my amputation, I was very active, spending a lot of my time surfing and backpacking in different countries around the world to experience the culture. I played high-level sports earlier in my sporting life, with a key highlight competing in the 2015 World Championships for Ultimate Frisbee in Italy. Throughout my professional career, I was working as a Rope Access Technician, a labour-intensive job climbing around oil and gas facilities working 84-hour weeks. After my injury, my biggest concern was how I would earn money in the future for my own physical and mental well-being. It was a really tough period in my life. I made the proactive decision to put one foot in front of the other and choose to move forward and make the most of my life.

As soon as I was fitted with my leg, I started working to see what my mind and body were capable of, through hard and consistent training. I spent endless hours training in the gym and rediscovered my passion for pushing myself with the support of my network of family and friends around me.

People don’t realise how dark it gets after amputation and how much it takes to show up every day, not just to train, but to be present for your family and friends and complete small daily life tasks. Things could be going great for a few months; you’ve built all this muscle and strength and then somehow developed a pimple or tiny rubbing wound on your limb, and all of a sudden, you can’t walk for a month; and you lose all your hard work. Back to square one. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received, especially communicating with other amputees on social media who can relate and provide advice for what you are going through. It’s a tough mental marathon that never ends.

Only a few months after my amputation I got into indoor rock climbing. This was great because I could train and build strength, while having something to focus on which distracted me from the reality of losing my leg. For the first 6 months I didn’t use a prosthesis, I just hopped up to the wall and climbed with one leg. It was my goal to compete in the world stage. I got close and participated in some national climbing competitions, but unfortunately didn‘t have the means to travel to the world championships during Covid-19.

I was then encouraged to get into kayaking by friend and fellow amputee Kathleen O‘kelly–Kennedy who saw potential in my ability. I called the Australian coach and told him I was determined to get into the Tokyo Paralympics (top 2 in the country) and told him I was committed to focusing on that goal. I was training 6-8 hours everyday full time. This was by far the hardest sporting endeavour I have taken on. I had no idea how hard this new sport was going to be. When I rocked up to the Olympic training squad at the NSW institute of sport I was humbled and put into my place. All I wanted to do was give up, but I just kept turning up and giving everything I had into each training session. Fast forward eight months and I was a proficient paddler, I could keep up with the able bodied squad, but it was torture. I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons.

I use different Össur legs for different applications. I use the Pro-Flex XC with the Unity Vacuum, combined with the cushioned Dermo Liner when working offshore. I find the Unity, especially comfortable with my short stump. The unity pump on the Pro-Flex XC active vacuum helps with achieving the comfort to manage long hours of work.

 I tried different products out on the waves, but I’ve found the Balance Foot S works best. I like this product because it allows for that movement and flexibility to comply with the board when properly turning against a wave. It gives me the right amount of grip to stay on the board. It was hard for me to get back into the ocean after my accident; I must wear a wetsuit even in a tropical climate because it helps keep my leg securely suspended under massive pressures like the waves of Nazaré Beach.

The team at APC Prosthetics helped me get my socket in the shape I needed to be able to surf comfortably. They observed how my knee fits into the socket, and the way my knee moves inside the socket. My Prosthetist, Sarah McConnell has been there from the beginning; Sarah would go as far as to come and see me at the Mona Vale hospital which really helped me during that time. After spending lots of time working together, Sarah was open to working outside the rules of the textbook and together, we worked collaboratively to tailor the design of the socket so that I could use it the way I wanted to. I am also grateful for David and Cathy Howells; through their experience and knowledge, they were also a huge support. The three of them came together as a unit to support me.  

How I care for my limb has been crucial to my success. I make sure to eat well, minimise alcohol and get lots of rest. I desensitise the limb which helps with strengthening the skin. My message to the community is that anything is possible if you put your mind to it and commit. Never give up; just keep going. You will have bad days; it’s up to you to sit with these, feel the emotions and know that there will be better days coming. The first 6 months are so tough. It’s really hard to find good information. I followed my intuition. A lot of people said I couldn’t do it. If you have passion and purpose, you can make anything work. It’s all about practice, patience and purpose.