Today’s columnist, Ben Parkinson: Why I was attached to a ceiling by ropes

Ben Parkinson
Ben Parkinson

Now there are so many amputees from Afghanistan and Iraq, the Government have put money into specialist units called Murrison Centres.

There are 11 of these around the country and they have all the newest techniques and equipment.

The idea is the lads get the best and most up-to-date prosthetics and civilian amputees, of course, get the same too, so everyone benefits.

My Murrison Centre is in Preston.

The reason I go so far is it has a state-of-the-art gait lab.

This means dozens of infrared beams measure the way you walk, and your stump size, and the numbers are fed into a computer which then produces a socket – the bit your stump sits in – without any help from mankind.

Well, that is the theory and for most of the lads it works, but it will not work for me, because of the problems with my pelvis and spine.

For me and two unlucky female technicians, it was back to the old-fashioned method of casting the stump using plaster of Paris.

So there I was, wearing only my best SpongeBob SquarePants boxers, laid on a table, while the two women wrapped me first in cling film, and then in cold wet bandages around each stump in turn.

As the plaster sets, it becomes red hot, but to try to correct the tilt in my back and pelvis, they used straps and pulleys to yank my leg into its best position.

So there I am, wearing very little, covered in plaster and attached to the ceiling by ropes.

No photographs were taken.

It is amazing how quickly the plaster sets and then comes the interesting bit, when the technicians try and get the mould off the stump.

If it was not for the cling film, it would be very painful for those of us with hairy legs.

That is all that can be done on day one.

The technicians now use the mould to make a pair of clear plastic test sockets.

These are not very strong, but you can see exactly where they do or do not fit, so that changes can be made and the proper carbon fibre sockets made.

These will be maroon of course, and they will also have my para wings embedded.

Anything else and I would be incorrectly dressed.

This is just the start. Very soon the new sockets will be fitted with my new Genium Prosthetic legs.

I cannot wait.

n Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson was serious wounded while serving with the Army in Afghanistan and has been described as the most seriously wounded soldier to survive his injuries.

He has been made an MBE for his services to charity and takes part in high profile fundraisers.

* Ben Parkinson, Doncaster war hero