Bionic leg for the Bathgate soldier shot by the Taliban

Dad hails new wonder tech for better mobility

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 7:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 7:13 pm
David Sneddon out walking the dog

A WAR hero who lost a leg fighting in Afghanistan hopes a pioneering prosthetic will give him a new lease of life.

Veteran David Sneddon, from Bathgate, has worn an artificial limb for years after being hit by a Taliban sniper’s bullet.

Now he hopes a new technique of fusing an implant to the bone will make a kick about with his two sons and a round of golf a pain-free prospect.

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"I had a bad infection in my femur," the 42-year-old told BBC Scotland's The Nine. "The bullet had missed my kneecap and hit my femur and shattered it completely. I'm grateful to be here, it could have been a lot worse.

"I think that's what keeps me going. Some lads weren't that lucky and never came back."

With a traditional prosthetic, the socket is made to fit onto the amputee's stump but even the best can slip and cause sores.

In the new process - called osseointegration - involves a surgeon inserting a titanium rod implant directly into the bone and connecting it to his hi-tech prosthesis.

The implanted socket is more sturdy and enables patients to sense the ground beneath the leg.

David woke up two days after being shot in Camp Bastion nearly ten years ago and was sent back to the UK for treatment.

He endured two failed knee replacements while battling infection before finally making the gut-wrenching decision to have his right leg amputated.

“The opportunity came to me when I was having problems with my socket and I thought it was worthwhile looking at," he said, after being initially deterred at the thought of having an implant.

In December, he became only the third patient in Scotland to undergo the procedure, and is now undergoing a daily routine of strengthening exercises and hospital appointments.

"The two people before me are doing brilliantly so I am really excited for this,” he said. “It's a bit scary as well but looking at the two lads who have had it done, they are doing amazing."

The hi-tech limb includes a microprocessor knee which has six sensors that read the terrain he walks on.

"When I am going downhill it will set a resistance in the knee so I can walk comfortably and when I am going uphill it will set a different resistance," he said. "It is constantly giving me feedback.

"Since my amputation in 2013 my muscles have been dormant," he says. "All my muscles have been stitched on to the bone and I can feel everything now which is giving me all these crazy aches and niggles.

"But I can feel when I'm walking on the carpet, when I'm walking outside, how soft the grass is, which is really good."

Although with a long way to go, David can now make plans for the future - including a family holiday to Florida and getting back on the golf course.

"The more confident I get with this leg and the more I get outside with it, I think, the happier I'll be," he added.