Stephen Parkinson's Agilium Reactive story

Third generation farmer saved from giving up his farm thanks to innovative knee brace

Stephen Parkinson has spent most of his life on the family farm and his passion for farming was threatened when he developed Osteoarthritis (OA) in his knee.

Stephen, 59 year old farmer from Warwickshire, started farming after he completed his Agricultural Diploma at Brooksby College in Leicestershire and now runs the family farm.

Over the years Stephen has developed his father’s 10 acre small holding to a successful 700 acre farm with over 1,300 animals and includes 270 acres of arable land. Although Stephen finds this lifestyle very rewarding and wouldn’t want to retire, three years ago the manual nature of his job started to take its toll on his knees.

Stephen recalls: “Early on when I had problems with my knee, I would come home at night after working all day and all I wanted to do was come in and sit down to put my feet on the stool and rest them. Since having my brace I don’t need to do that. I come in, I might be tired sometimes but I don’t need to put my feet up.”

The Orthopaedic consultant Stephen saw said he would need to have a knee replacement but he was reluctant as he hoped to continue farming for the foreseeable future and didn’t want to wear out the new ones out too! Stephen was looking to get ten more years out of his knees, so together they decided to look at ways of extending the life of his existing knees! As a result, 18 months ago Stephen had a cortisone injection into his right knee and at the same time had an osteotomy to his left knee. Although the injection worked well on his right knee, his left knee continued to cause him pain. He recalls ‘when you are in pain it wears you out, it is really tiring.’

After going back to see his consultant it was suggested he should try an unloading brace on his left leg before thinking about more surgery. Luckily for Stephen, his daughter in law who is an orthotist saw the suggested knee brace and believed it was ‘a bit old school’ and advised there could be better ones available. So she spoke to Ottobock Academy Clinician, Jana Middlebrook, who suggested he should try the Ottobock Agilium Reactive knee brace for OA.

Stephen says ‘I have a lot more energy now since I have been wearing the brace.’

Jana explains: “Farming is physically and mentally demanding work, if you don’t feel at your best physically it can take its toll on your mental wellbeing. In Stephen’s case it was great that his Orthopaedic consultant suggested the trial of an unloading knee brace to prolong the need for surgery. However it is important to look at the ever increasing options available when it comes to Orthotics for OA. Just as an individual user has different goals, each brace available has different functions and designs. Ottobock provide a range of OA bracing options, which are centred on accommodating the varying requirements of each individual user. The Agilium Reactive really is simple to use, slim line and does not result in uncomfortable strapping in the posterior knee crease when the users knee is flexed. Making it perfect to put on first thing and be confident it will not interfere with your busy day.”

The Agilium Reactive is a lightweight knee brace manufactured by Ottobock which helps to relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis. Users find it comfortable to wear due to its innovative closure technology of the calf strap, which at the push of a button can be loosened to reduce constriction when sitting down. Thanks to its slim design it can be worn discreetly under everyday clothing.

Ever since Stephen was given his knee brace he has managed to wear it all day when he is working. He finds it easy to put it on and take off and never finds it a hindrance. He even managed to do lambing by himself this year!

“I am always happy wearing it, it goes under my overalls and it definitely eases the pain. My knee isn’t 100% but put it like this, I’m not rushing to get on the waiting list for a new knee.”

Stephen is hoping to get 5 or 6 more years out of his left knee now he has the brace but is keen to get one for his right knee before it gets too bad. “If I could give any advice to others, it would be to try and look after your knees in the first place but then try a brace or a few different things before opting for a new knee”. For him, a replacement knee would be a last resort and would mean he would have to give up his two real passions water skiing and snow skiing, let alone the impact it would have on the farm!