Injured soldier walks again with new £100k legs

LONG JOURNEY: Sgt Rick Clement
LONG JOURNEY: Sgt Rick Clement
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A soldier who lost both his legs in a bomb blast has revealed he is nearing his goal of walking unaided thanks to new technology.

Sgt Rick Clement, 34, from Fylde, was seriously injured after stepping on an explosive in Afghanistan in 2010.

The soldier, part of the 1st Battalion Duke of Lancaster Regiment, suffered horrific wounds in the incident, but has battled back to health and is now testing new equipment to continue his bid to walk.

In January the Evening Post featured his story as part of our Rebuilding Lives series, reporting on the work of the specialist amputee rehabilitation unit at Royal Preston Hospital.

He was shown trialling a new pair of £100,000 prosthetic legs. After weeks of trials Sgt Clement says a knee has now been ordered for his right leg – with a prototype model being designed for the left side of his body.

He added: “We trialled a couple of different types of knee.

“On my right leg we have decided the Genium knee will be the best one. We have ordered that – it will take four to six weeks to come.

“For the left side we will have to trial something from a few components. We have already tried another knee.

“We have done different trials but wanted to get the right hand side sorted first as that is the easy part.”

The heroic soldier took his first steps before Christmas thanks to the knees designed by German prosthetics company Ottobock, a firm set up in response to the large number of injured veterans from the First World War.

He has continued working twice a week at the Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre in Preston under the guidance of Dr Fergus Jepson, improving his core muscles to help support his stance.

He added: “I travel over to Preston every Monday and Wednesday.

“Some of the work involves stretching – I am sat down a lot of the time in the wheelchair so it helps my muscles as I can get stiff. The gym is a specialist one and helps me to lift weights.

“I’ll have to use crutches but I want to walk unaided – that is the goal. It is just too early to tell. We will get a better understanding of the long-term progression when I start using the new knee.”

Since retiring from the Army, Sgt Clement has raised more than £100,000 for his charity A Soldier’s Journey and is organising a boxing night in June See a-soldiers-journey.co.uk for details.