Standing at an impressive 5895 metres tall, the world’s highest free standing mountain, Kilimanjaro, is an ambitious and strenuous task for anybody to conquer – even more so if you are a unilateral amputee.
In 2010, Allan Roberts (35, from Corwen in Wales) was travelling in a convoy in Iraq when an explosive device detonated his vehicle, severing both of his legs below the knee. In spite of this traumatic event, Allan has not let it deter him from achieving his goals. Working closely alongside the clinicians at Pace Rehabilitation, Allan went from strength to strength during his recovery with focus and determination to be able to walk on two legs once again.
The Not Forgotten Association approached Allan to see if he would be up for the challenge of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with 11 other injured servicemen. He agreed to take part without hesitation in order to raise money for other injured or sick ex-servicemen/women.
As well as the sheer strength and fitness Allan would have to demonstrate in reaching the peak of Kilimanjaro, he would also require an extremely reliable and comfortable active vacuum system to prevent any potential issues that may arise whilst an amputee engages in such level of activity. Throughout his journey to the peak of Kilimanjaro, Allan used WillowWood’s LimbLogic: an elevated vacuum system which is able to monitor the socket’s vacuum level, and can automatically adjust to maintain a secure fit. The WillowWood One system provided Allan with a secure, comfortable and straightforward vacuum system without the need of hoses, sleeves or extra bulk (ideal for when climbing a mountain). The strength of the air-tight vacuum meant that Allan’s volume within the socket was maintained, which was one of the main concerns for Allan as his residual limbs are very short.
The intense seven day trek saw the group of ex-service men walking for up to 17 hours a day; unfortunately, two members were unable to reach the summit due to altitude sickness. Luckily, Allan didn’t suffer from oxygen deprivation, and described the ease of the ascent in comparison with the descent. The task caused bruising and tenderness to his stumps, however he suffered from no sores – a testament to the power of the vacuum system and support received from Pace Rehabilitation.
This inspiring story provides ample evidence for the endurance of the human spirit, in light of a life changing tragedy, and how determination to succeed overcomes challenging obstacles. The story also supports the power of the LimbLogic, and how an active vacuum system is a huge milestone in prosthetic technology.