When rally ace Matthew Wilson damaged his ankle on a training run, he faced a lengthy convalescence. iWALKFree has helped him stay independent — and maintain fitness while he waits to get back behind the wheel of his Ford Fiesta RS WRC.
Matthew, 25, has been winning events and stages for seven years, notching up notable successes for the Stobart Ford World Rally Team in Argentina, Japan, Mexico and Scotland.
Many armchair sportsmen don’t realise the physical demands of motorsport. There’s a constant risk of injury, of course — like the 2005 crash which put the then 18 year old driver on crutches with two broken arms and a kneecap in 12 pieces.
But there’s also the need for strength and fitness. Says Matthew: “We drive in many different climates, everything from intense cold to places like Jordan where it can be 60 degrees inside the car… The fitter you are, the better you’ll deal with those extremes.”
Matthew’s rigorous training schedule includes extensive gym work and hillrunning in the countryside around his Lake District home. That’s where injury struck again early in 2012.
“I slipped on a tiny tiny patch of ice and that was it. I heard it go and I knew exactly what had happened. These things can happen anywhere, I suppose.”
Matthew had been looking forward to starting the 2012 season. Now he had to cope with an ankle that was broken and dislocated, the ligament badly damaged.
“They put the joint back into place, but then sent me home to reduce the swelling before they went to work on the ligament. Waiting for that second operation was hard.”
While Matthew was laid up, he found an article about iWALKFree, the hands-free crutch that straps to the thigh, allowing the user to move freely. Fully adjustable and easy to use, the iWALKFree is designed for lower leg injury sufferers, amputees and post-surgical patients — and it looked perfect.
Memories of that awkward 2005 recuperation spurred Matthew into action. “I could remember being on crutches, how difficult it was to carry stuff. iWALKFree was pretty much what I was looking for. I thought: further down the line, that’s gonna be handy.” He contacted the UK distributor www.peglegs.co.uk , received his iWALKFree by return, and took his first faltering steps a few days later.
Like many new users, Matthew took a few days to get used to the device. The turning point came when his parents went to America for a week. “They’d been really helpful, but I was having to do a lot for myself. And that’s when iWALKFree came into its own. I was actually able to walk to places and carry things back without making three or four trips.”
But Matthew wanted to accomplish more than brewing cups of tea. He needed to get back in the race. “IWalkFree enabled me to get back to fitness work a lot sooner than I would have done,” he says. Confidence returning, he began using the device to get around the gym. “Thanks to IWALKFree I’ve maintained all the strength in my upper body, which will be a big help when I get in the car.”
For further information on iWALKFree, visit: http://www.peglegs.co.uk.