My View, Ben Parkinson: American boost is a big step forward

Ben Parkinson taking part in his latest treatment in Hanger, USA
Ben Parkinson taking part in his latest treatment in Hanger, USA

Well what an amazing week I’ve had at the Hanger Clinic in Oklahoma City.

This is the best rehab centre for amputees in the world.

They work with the American military, and lots of the UK lads have gone, paid for by charities, in my case Pilgrimbandits.

Because so many new muscles are working after the HBOT oxygen treatment, we decided it was time to try something new and tough.

So the charity sent me to the ‘double amputee above knee boot camp workshop.’ Try saying that with a speech problem.

There were more than 50 double, triple and quadruple amputees, some very good on their legs and some not even walking yet.

My problem has always been that my sockets – the bit that covers your stump – will never fit.

They are made to mould to your leg, but as soon as you do a lot of walking, your stumps shrink and then the sockets don’t fit and the legs and feet twist round so you fall down.

Hanger had an answer that is so easy.

Use a round button for a foot and then it can’t face the wrong way!

Some of our amputees who have done really well go back to Hanger to act as trainers for the rest of us.

I was working with Marine Mark Ormrod, a triple amputee and total legend who once picked me up off the bathroom floor at Headley Court and is still helping me now.

He was teaching me the most important thing of all – that is how to fall and get back up again.

He says it is something that I will get loads of practice at, like it or not.

Here in the UK you aren’t taught this because no one dare let you fall when they are teaching you.

But it’s going to happen, so it’s common sense to learn how to handle it.

It’s unbelievable but by day two I was climbing stairs. I had to plant my feet and lever myself up using my hamstrings.

I’ve never done this before, and have never seen the upstairs of my own house.

I sent my mum a joke message telling her to clear the cannabis farm out of the upstairs bedrooms because I was coming up as soon as I got home.

Did my legs ache the morning after!

I’ve got so much to put into practice.

There is lots of hard work still to come, but if I tell you that I actually walked off the plane coming home, you will know that it will all be so worth it.

n Paratrooper Ben Parkinson suffered the loss of both legs and brain damage when he was blown up in a Land Rover while serving in Afghanistan.