My life as an adaptive rower

In February 2017, I became an elective below knee amputee. Although it was one of the hardest decisions of my life, in an odd way, it was one of the best choices I have made. That decision enabled me to pursue my dreams and, to a greater extent, it helped me to become the confident woman I am today. Most importantly, it made me a better role model for my daughter.

I left my career in adult nursing in 2012 as I was advised that working on hard floors was detrimental to my congenital foot impairment. I struggled to imagine what career would suit me and I had previously sworn never to enter education again. Little did I know at the time that my decision to proceed with the amputation would open different and exciting opportunities like rowing for the GB Paralympic team and pursuing a new career.

Sophie being awarded her Bronze medal

Fast forward to December 2017. I was in the midst of progressing from the talent squad for GB Paralympic rowing to development squad, my NHS prosthetic was not up to the standards required, so I appealed to Dorset orthopaedic for a rowing specific prosthesis. They kindly obliged and after going from strength to strength with my new leg, I moved up, where I maintained my place for 18 months. I achieved bronze at my first competition and have also represented adaptive rowing at the Cutty Sark for Love Rowing (a charitable foundation).

''It sparked something in me and I took the plunge''

In summer 2018, I was training and, on the side, decided to accompany my sister at an university open day. It sparked something in me and I took the plunge and applied for a two -year foundation degree in Sports Therapy within Injury Rehabilitation, which I completed in May 2020. Unfortunately, I had to part from the development squad in December 2019, due to my coach passing away and an upcoming surgery. I didn’t let that get me down as I progressed straight away on to BSc Hons top up in Sports rehabilitation with Sports therapy. I finished June this year and, despite the pandemic, I graduated. It was the second proudest moment of my life, the first being the birth of my daughter.

Graduation time for Sophie

''Disability is not an obstacle in sports''

All in all, life as an amputee, adaptive athlete and a student has been very rigorous due to juggling the high-work load, coping with bad days including phantom pains, socket discomfort and sometimes struggling to get my prosthesis on. I endured two surgical operations across the three academic years and the Covid – 19 pandemic. As hectic as this all sounds, it has allowed me to help and inspire other people with their own difficult situations. I have enjoyed assisting students with their strength and conditioning and I can see that they have also benefited from working with an amputee and seeing that a disability does not have to be an obstacle in sports or in a career choice.

I started as an Intern therapist for Plymouth Albion in mid-2020 and I’m still there now. I have come to appreciate the positives that come from putting my own knowledge to the test during my personal rehabilitation journey, just as I have and still continue to do so on a daily basis. Overall, when I put things into perspective, if I didn’t become an amputee in the first place, I know I wouldn’t be where I am today, let alone rowing around Great Britain!!

Thank you Dorset Orthopaedics for supplying me with yet another fantastic leg for my row around GB!!

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