Steve's C-Leg story

Steve Barnes, RAF serviceman and father of two from Lincolnshire, is back on his feet thanks to his C-Leg in the wake of a tragic accident

It was during a motorcycle journey on a Sunday afternoon in 2009 that Steve Barnes, an Electronic Engineer in the RAF at the time, collided with a drunk driver. The severity of his resulting injuries left him on the brink of death and eventually he had his right leg amputated, leaving his world shattered. However, a C-Leg bionic leg from Ottobock has given him back freedom and provided him with a renewed confidence and ability.

“I remember the day my accident happened,” explains Steve. “The Queen was visiting our RAF base that weekend and it was just before I was due to graduate as an RAF officer at Cranwell. I was enjoying a bike ride on my 2005 Daytona 955i on a sunny afternoon. As a Senior Observer with the Institute of Advanced Motorists, I was a competent and safe rider. A speeding car lost control and crashed into me, and there was nothing I could do. I later found out it was a drunk driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel.”

During the accident, half of Steve’s leg was ripped off and his arm was smashed including all the bones in his hand and arm from knuckles to elbow. He had also fractured his skull, four vertebrae and pelvis. An off duty police officer happened to be passing just before and saw the crash in his wing mirror. Thankfully, he acted fast and an ambulance swiftly arrived to take Steve to hospital in Lincolnshire.

“I woke up ten days later following an induced coma,” recalls Steve. “At the time I couldn’t see the full extent of the damage to my leg and couldn’t feel any pain. I was asked if I wanted to have my leg amputated and was shocked that it was suggested as the only part I could see was my foot, which looked fine. After asking to see the rest of the leg I made the decision to have it amputated as the majority of it had been ripped off. It was a strange and emotional period for me; at the time my family and I didn’t really know anything about prosthetics or how they worked.”

Steve was transferred to Headley Court, a defence medical rehabilitation centre, where he was provided with a positive atmosphere with fellow servicemen that helped him get through the traumatic experience. As his wound healed he was in a wheelchair for three months. Once his leg was ready to be fitted with a socket, he was given a polycentric prosthetic knee with a hydraulic swing control. Steve struggled with the knee as it did not feel secure; he was unable to work it on uneven terrain and found it did not provide him with the safety he desired. As a keen golfer, he also wanted a knee that could allow him to get back on the course.

“I struggled on my first prosthetic knee and eventually I trialled the C-Leg microprocessor knee from Ottobock,” adds Steve. “When I first tried it, it was an epiphany, I immediately felt secure and quickly gained confidence walking again; I felt I could rely on it to do anything I needed. Soon after my fitting I was playing golf again, walking in my garden, tackling slopes; I was even kicking a ball around with the kids.”

“It’s not just the active things that are made easy; although it sounds simple, standing still for long periods of time was made achievable with the stance control. I could stand and watch my children play their football matches and on Remembrance Day I was able to stand for over an hour comfortably. Without my C-Leg this would not have been possible and would have caused a lot of pain.”

Despite the terrible accident, Steve keeps a positive attitude and is grateful for the opportunity to have a microprocessor knee through funding at Headley Court.

“I almost died the day of my accident and if it wasn't for the off duty policeman who passed me I would not be here now. My life has changed dramatically and I’ve had to adapt to a new way of living. Luckily for me, Headley Court has provided first class rehabilitation and the C-Leg from Ottobock has given me the ability to do the things I didn’t know were possible following an amputation.”

C-Leg 4 microprocessor knee

The C-Leg 4

Ottobock introduced the world to the very first fully microprocessor-controlled knee in 1997. The C-Leg caused an immediate sensation and has since become the most popular microprocessor prosthetic leg in history. Since its introduction, over 40,000 people have taken advantage of the C-Leg’s proven function and stability and helped to make C-Leg technology the Standard of Care for above knee amputees.

C-Leg 4 above knee prosthesis

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