Losing a limb is a life changing occurrence. For many amputees, the ordinary activities of everyday life have to be re–thought and re–learned. Child amputees, in particular, require long term support to enable them to regain their confidence and mobility, and to adapt to life after amputation.
Artificial limbs or prosthetics can make a big difference. Finding the right prosthetic increases mobility and independence and, generally leads to a better quality of life.
Appropriate prosthetic care can also help children get back to playing sports that they may have enjoyed before their amputation. Some go on to become athletes, inspiring others with similar injuries by the way they have overcome the limitations that are often associated with their disability. Here are five examples of child amputees who went on to accomplish remarkable things as athletes, with the help of prosthetics.
Jonnie Peacock is a 100 metre sprinter and won gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympics. At the age of five, he contracted meningitis which attacked the tissues in his right leg and led to him being in an induced coma. His right leg had to be amputated below the knee.
He ran his first international race in May 2012 and set a new world record for an amputee in the 100 metres only a month later. He then competed in the Paralympics later that year and won gold, setting a new Paralympic record in the process. He then successfully defended his title in the 2016 Paralympics, winning gold again.
In this interview from 2016 he talks about some of the issues he has had with his prosthetic limb while training and how his prosthetist has made adjustments which have helped. This illustrates the importance of finding a prosthetist you trust and with whom you can communicate openly and honestly.
One of Jonnie Peacock’s great rivals in the Paralympics is American sprinter, Richard Browne. Aged 16, a freak accident sent him through a plate glass window after slipping in the rain, which resulted in an arterial bleed. After 14 operations, his right leg had to be amputated below the knee.
In 2013, he broke Jonnie Peacock’s world record. He won gold medals at the 2013 and 2015 world championships and won silver at the 2012 Paralympics.
Aimee Mullins is an American athlete, actress and model who was born with a medical condition that resulted in the amputation of both her lower legs when she was just a year old.
With the help of prosthetics, she did not allow her limb loss to stop her playing sports and competing against her able – bodied counterparts. After winning a scholarship to Georgetown University, she competed against able-bodied athletes in NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) Division One track and field events, and is one of the first female amputees in history to compete in the NCAA. She was the first amputee in history (male or female) to compete in Division One NCAA track and field. She went on to compete in the 100 metre sprint and the long jump at the Paralympics in 1996. Since then, she has gone on to have successful careers in modelling and acting. She is currently in the new Netflix series, Stranger Things with Winona Ryder.
Jessica Long is an American Paralympic swimmer. She was born in Siberia as Tatiana Olegovna Kirillova, before being adopted aged 13 months. Her lower legs were amputated as a result of fibular hemimelia when she was 18 months old. She was fitted with prosthetic limbs and soon began swimming in her grandparents’ pool.
She burst onto the international stage in 2004, winning three gold medals at the Paralympics in Athens. She was aged only 12 at the time. She now has 23 Paralympic medals and has held five world records.
Kelly Cartwright is an Australian athlete, competing in the 100 metres and long jump. When she was fifteen, she had a form of cancer called synovial sarcoma. Part of her right leg had to be amputated due to the cancer and she started using a prosthetic leg while in high school.
She competed at the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics. In 2012, she won a gold medal in the long jump and a silver medal in the 100 metres. She also set a world record in the 100 metres while winning the world championships in 2011.
In 2009, she accomplished the remarkable feat of climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
It takes time and courage to come to terms with amputation. Childhood amputation, in particular, affects the whole family. For many, the emotional and physical healing process also requires professional help.
Where the amputation was caused by negligence or an accident that was someone else’s fault, our amputation experts are on hand to advise and may be able to secure financial compensation for prosthetics and other specialist equipment and vehicles and for necessary adaptations to the family home.
If you or a family member has suffered an amputation after an accident we may be able to help. Get in touch with a member of our experienced personal injury claims team to discuss making a claim by emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org.