Carpenter and outdoorsman Knut Eriksen (59) from Halden, got cancer in his thigh and had to amputate. He now walks several kilometers a day with a prosthesis from the hip down.
Text: Bjørnhild Fjeld - Photo: Tore Fjeld
In the fall of 2019, Knut discovered a lump on his thigh, which unfortunately turned out to be cancer, a sarcoma. On November 5, he underwent surgery and his leg had to be amputated from the hip down.
- "While I was still in the Radium Hospital, I was asked if I wanted a prosthesis. I said yes, I was pretty determined that I was going to get up and walk again," says Knut.
Get back on your feet quickly
In February 2020, he therefore received his first prosthesis and started training. He started by walking with a "pulpit", then crutches and now he walks relatively effortlessly with only a cane in one hand.
Since then, it has been many thousands of steps - and he has worn out several prostheses.
- "I have a dog, and it has to go for a walk. I usually go for walks of 3-4 kilometers several times a day," says Knut.
He has not used the wheelchair he was given after his amputation.
- It quickly ended up in the attic. "In the beginning I used crutches, and now I walk with a cane. I keep getting comments that I walk well, I don't think so myself, but I keep going," says the vigorous 59-year-old.
Learning to walk again
What is crucial for achieving good walking function with a prosthesis is that you get started with training quickly, and not least: Walk a lot.
- "It was like learning to walk all over again," says Knut.
- "Knut just keeps going and going, he's simply a badass. I think it's incredibly nice to see that the aids I help make are used so much," says Atle Ivar Karlsen, who is Knut's permanent orthopaedic engineer at OCH Orthopaedics Østfold.
Knut regularly visits the clinic at Grålum to have the socket and the rest of the prosthesis fitted.
- We chase tenths, there are always small adjustments and improvements that can be made," says Atle.
For someone who has been amputated from the hip down, the prosthesis must be secured with a belt around the other hip. It is important that it fits well so that the prosthesis is functional.
- "It's very common for the volume to change so that the sleeve becomes too large," explains the orthopaedic engineer.
Since Knut is such an active prosthesis user, he has been fitted with a similarly advanced prosthesis. Among other things, he has a computer-controlled knee, with an app on his phone.
The computer-controlled knee Knut uses is called Rheo knee XC, and after time, it will "learn" the user's walking pattern. For example, it will automatically adapt if Knut has to climb stairs or walk on uneven terrain.
- A computerized knee can be great for someone as active as Knut. But it's not for everyone. One of the disadvantages is that it is quite heavy, because of all the components that need to be there. Knut previously had another type of prosthesis, which was heavier. He wasn't able to walk as much - and then it didn't work as intended," says Atle.
Had to quit his carpentry job
Until the cancer operation, Knut worked as a carpenter and supervisor, and the plan was to return to work.
- I tried to work, but it turned out to be too slow. It simply didn't work in the workplace. But I do a few different things at home, both in the house and the garden.
Knut also drives a car and, on his own initiative, took the driving license test again. "With an automatic transmission, it's very easy to drive even if one leg is missing.
In retrospect, he finds it a bit strange that no one asked him about his driver's license - after all, it's also an important part of getting back to everyday life.
- I wanted to be on the safe side, so I drove up again," he says.
Otherwise, life and everyday life is as before. Knut is a restless type who doesn't like to sit still, so he needs something to do.
- "What's difficult is if the terrain is sloping, and of course I have a sloping garden... Stairs are also a challenge, so I have to take one step at a time. But otherwise it goes well," says the positive 59-year-old.