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Kenevo MPK user Jay standing in front of her house in France
Kenevo MPK user Jay standing in front of her house in France
Kenevo MPK user Jay standing in front of her house in France

Jay's Kenevo Story.

Amputee sets her sights on living the French dream thanks to her microprocessor knee.

Professional photographer and travel enthusiast Jay Watson from Hereford was enjoying a busy and fulfilling life, travelling the country to work with her client base that she had built up over 30 years in the industry, before a tragic accident changed her life forever.

In June 2022, during a motorcycle lesson, Jay was involved in a freak accident where she collided with a van. Her injuries were so severe that she wasn’t expected to survive and after a month in a coma, 50 surgeries including a through-knee amputation of her left leg and 5 months in hospital, Jay was able to return home to continue her recovery. Due to the injuries she sustained in the accident it wasn’t until the following June that Jay could start her rehabilitation and begin learning to walk with a prosthesis.

Jay attended the West Midlands Rehabilitation Centre and by October 2023 her strength had improved significantly and she was able to start walking on early rehabilitation prosthetic aids. Jay’s rehabilitation team felt that the best prosthesis for Jay would be a microprocessor knee (MPK) due to the benefits such as stumble recovery, reduced energy expenditure when walking, improved balance and increased confidence walking. They felt this would enable Jay to meet her goals and improve her quality of life. It was also particularly important to reduce the risk of falls for Jay due to her injuries sustained from the accident, resulting in a lot of metal work in her body, including her pelvis and wrists.

Typically, it is more common practice for above knee amputees to spend 12 to 18 months on a mechanical or hydraulic knee before being prescribed with a MPK. With the introduction of the NHS MPK Policy amputees can have access to a MPK as their very first prosthesis. For Jay, using a MPK as her first (primary) prosthesis gives her a more comfortable and natural walking style and helped her to improve her confidence and trust in the prosthesis, improving her independence.

“I was so pleased to go straight onto a MPK. I’d spent so long recovering from my accident I just wanted to get going and start living my life again!” Jay was prescribed the Kenevo, this MPK has the greatest possible safety features which makes it perfect as a first prosthesis. The Kenevo’s safety features are proven to reduce falls. It has a Stumble Recovery Plus feature which covers the entire swing phase, providing the highest level of safety possible. The difference between a stumble and fall can take milliseconds. Unlike other MPKs, the Kenevo does not need to detect a stumble in order to provide the additional support. Instead, the knee is already prepared on every swing phase for a stumble, therefore there is no reaction time and the risk to the user is reduced even further. If a stumble were to occur as the knee is extending, the stance resistance is already very high preventing the knee from bending further when the user lands on it following a stumble.

In 2016, Jay and her partner bought a property in France and before her accident they spent much of their time going back and forth to renovate the house with plans to retire out there. “We decided it was time to book a trip to France and get back to working on the house again, so March 2024 is the goal I’m working towards!” commented Jay. “That will be five months since starting my rehab and three of those since having my Kenevo. Although I’m really good at using my wheelchair, that isn’t going to be practical to use when I’m in France, so my focus is learning to walk on the Kenevo.”

“I’ve had a few stumbles while practising on the bars and with my crutches, but each time I feel the knee react, so I’ve never fallen while on the Kenevo,” said Jay. “I have a lot of confidence when using the knee and this has allowed me to push myself. Each time I go to the physio there is a new terrain for me to try or a new challenge that they set me. The physios are pushing me hard to get me ready for France, we’ve practiced walking on cobbles, gravel, slippery decking and mastering stairs. I feel confident to say yes to everything because of the knee. It’s hard work but I tell myself that it won’t work if you don’t work at it.”

“I’m looking forward to living my life again and having new adventures,” Jay enthused. “After we’ve been to France my next goal is to walk without crutches. I’ve already started stepping through and activating the knee even when using the walking frame, I’m determined to get my independence back!”

What advice does Jay give to anyone going through an amputation? “I spent a lot of time in bed following my accident researching the rehab process, looking into other amputee’s journeys and the types of prosthetics that were available. Just remember that most of the amputees you see online are a lot further into their rehab journey. Don’t be disappointed if you can’t do what they can. It takes hard work and effort to learn to walk again but it will be the most rewarding thing you’ll do.”

*Authors note: The picture accompanying this article is of Jay at her property in France, March 2024, after having spent 6 wonderful weeks there as planned!

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Available via NHS Funding

Kenevo user Robert is standing in the kitchen preparing coffee

Living with Amputation

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