22 February 2023
Mohammed Belal, a consultant urologist at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital, had a freak cycling accident in February 2021. He was hit by a falling tree whilst cycling with a friend. When he tried to get back to his feet, he realised he was paralysed below the waist.
There followed a number of spinal operations and weeks of rehabilitation. It was his physiotherapist at the Royal Bucks Hospital that suggested Mohammed would benefit from the advice of Sam Walmsley, director and lead orthotist at LOC.
Mohammed was first assessed in the London Orthotic Consultancy's Gait Laboratory by Sam in March 2022. Our video vector gait laboratory uses sophisticated cameras that synchronise with a force measurement plate, a highly sensitive device set within the floor that measures the force being applied to it during walking. Analysis of the data produced helps LOC’s orthotists to devise the correct prescription for their bespoke orthotics.
An important part of LOC’s approach to treatment is an understanding of their patient’s ultimate goal and then a mutual agreement about how that goal might be reached. For Mohammed it was straightforward, he wanted to get back to work and surgery. However, he also had the desire to get back to walking. In many respects, this was a greater challenge and one that needed a solution with some of the latest orthotic technology, the Fior & Gentz HiTronic knee joint system.
The Neuro HiTronic is an automatic, electro-hydraulic system knee joint. It's used for building KAFOs with microprocessor-controlled stance phase control. It is one of the many cutting-edge technologies we use from Fior & Gentz.
Sam prescribed a Neuroswing AFO for his slightly stronger left leg and a Neuro HiTronic KAFO for the weaker right leg. Mohammed was particularly taken with the KAFO: “Amazing, incredible bit of technology.”
Both orthoses are made from carbon fibre so are as lightweight as possible. They are manufactured on-site at LOC’s headquarters clinic at Kingston. The team of technicians and orthotists work closely together to produce bespoke orthotics that are optimized both for effectiveness and comfort.
Mohammed’s first goal has been achieved: he can stand.
“It is difficult to describe what it means to me and my feelings of well-being, I did not feel comfortable with people looming over me, it is an important step on my long road to recovery.”
Mohammed can also now get around aided by a Zimmer frame but has not yet mastered the transfer to crutches. However, his next goal is to be able to stand for long enough unaided while in surgery, he went back to work in November of last year and is currently using a “virtual” standing chair to carry out his operations. He is confident that Sam and LOC will provide an orthotic solution to help him achieve his next goal.
Sam adds “It is an absolute privilege to be given the opportunity to help someone who has themselves dedicated their lives to helping others. Being in Mo's company, listening to him exude positivity and show such determination is humbling. His journey is an amazing one and I’m honoured to be part of it”.
See Mo featured in this BBC article, 'Paralysed Birmingham surgeon returns to work after cycling accident'.
Working with LOC and Elaine has been a great experience – they really take the time to look at your child and understand their individual challenges and needs. For parents who are in the same position that we were, I would say do your research – see what clinics are available near you and what the costs are, but my feeling is it’s worth every penny.
After 10 years of daily physiotherapy and swimming, not to mention SDR, hamstring and tendon lengthening, we have finally achieved independent walking – it was a mother’s day gift that would take some beating.
LOC’s video vector technology measures exactly where Austin’s weight is being distributed, how his hips are moving and how his legs are moving. It’s those insights that have made his new AFOs so effective. Even within a few days, LOC’s splints have had more impact on his independence of movement than anything else we have done.
Since his new orthoses, his change has been remarkable. He is more mobile and can walk independently. Jason is now walking indoors and outdoors and is unrestricted. He is now properly enjoying the summer sunshine for the first time in a few years with no complaints of pain.
It has been a breath of fresh air – LOC’s ability to accommodate Sophie’s circumstances and manufacture her orthotics so quickly has taken a huge amount of potential stress away. Alan talks to Sophie as well - she looks forward to seeing him. He has even been able to fulfil her request to have her SMOs decorated with unicorns! It makes her feel special and much happier about wearing them.
I can now go a mile without having to stop, so it is a lot better and I’m walking in a regular pattern now. The orthotic fits perfectly because LOC took proper mouldings and photographs; they were very thorough.