War hero Ben Parkinson has revealed how pioneering treatment has handed him a boost in his efforts to walk without crutches.
Ben, aged 30, of Besscarr, Doncaster, has revealed he has had a major improvement in the movement of his hips after two weeks of a programme hyper-baric oxygen therapy treatment at a specialist centre.
The treatment involves two hours a day in a diving chamber, six days a week for at least a month. The chamber is filled with high pressure oxygen, which experts say helps with breaks and soft tissue injuries.
He noticed the improvement at the end of two weeks treatment.
Ben, a former paratrooper who has been described as suffering the most serious injuries ever to have been survived by a British soldier, said in his Doncaster Star column: “Week three arrived and it was the biggest result of all.
“My hips have been locked in place because of my shattered pelvis, but now they have finally they started to rock.
“This means I can start to walk properly and not rely on lifting myself on my crutches. I walked 1.4 miles, then two miles and then 2.5 miles at one go.
“I started being able to walk up a steep hill for the first time, and finally I took six steps with no crutches.”
He joked: “I cannot wait for next week – I feel a mini triathlon coming on.”
Ben is now in his last week of the treatment.
He hopes the treatment will also help his speech and memory, as the oxygen is thought to open up new pathways in the brain.
The soldier was injured when a Taliban bomb blew up a vehicle he was travelling in while he was serving in Afghanistan. He lost both legs and suffered a series of injuries including brain damage, which left him unable to speak and with loss of memory.
While he has been undergoing the treatment, Ben has been going to the gym for physio and massage on his hips, before doing as much walking as he can on both sets of his false legs, before going into the hyperbaric oxygen chamber for about 90 minutes.
He then plays games which require a lot of thought like chess and Jenga, and has speech therapy.
Ben said: “The only thing I can say is it has been a massive success so far.”
Since having his latest treatment, he has also started being able to sneeze properly, because the soft palette of his mouth is starting to move.
Lumps have appeared on his nose and arms where small pieces of shrapnel are working their way out.
After the first week he noticed his legs were thinner because fluid was draining away. He also noticed a big fleshy lump on his back had totally gone.