Awhile back, I met a prospective client, who before I met him, had developed an infection that ultimately turned into a case of gangrene. The results were catastrophic. He experienced the loss of both of his legs just below the knees.
There can be psychological and emotional difficulties in adjusting to life after any type of amputation. Grieving for a lost body part and/or depression is common. Many amputees face the concern of embarrassment or even rejection by society because of the new reality they must face.
Not so much my client. Earlier in his life, his occupation was that of a stunt man. As this younger stunt man, he’s very fit and the whole body had been an integral part of his capacity for employment and very much part of his self-esteem. Despite what he had recently experienced, he still possessed a very positive, even courageous attitude. He literally embraced the challenge of adapting to his new life without legs. It was at that point that he came to me to help him maximize the full use of his body, minus the two natural legs, he once had.
He had been fitted with two prosthetic legs that connected just below his knees. The problem he was having was fully engaging his body to use the prosthetics in a way that allowed him to walk with fewer distortions and compensations. He looked to Structural Integration bodywork (AKA Rolfing) as a way to help him balance his body more completely and fully utilize his “new legs”. If this could happen, he would walk more naturally and down the road, even run.
After working with him over a number sessions, he developed the ability to walk with a more fluid motion rather than each hip rocking forward in distinct and disconnected steps. We were able to do this by helping his upper legs work more efficiently and with less effort. He was able to get more lift of his torso out of his hips and pelvis. We were able to open up his hips significantly which helped relieve much of the compensatory tension that was being driven into both his back and shoulder girdle. As a result, he was able to let go of that tension and walk in a more effortless and natural manner.
In essence, what was happening for him, was that his body’s core was becoming more connected with the earth. This allowed his stored energy to flow into the earth. In other words, he was becoming more grounded. This, in turn, allowed him to be able to trust his body and his new legs as resources that could work together. With this mindset in place, it allowed him to build on the amazing courageous and positive attitude he showed up with every day.