Ontario police officer who lost leg in freak accident gets cutting-edge prosthesis
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Medical Correspondent Avis Favaro and senior producer Elizabeth St. Philip
Published Friday, January 4, 2019 10:00PM EST
An Ontario Provincial Police officer who lost a leg in a 2014 accident is feeling “complete” again after receiving a novel, cutting-edge prosthetic implant.
“I have no pain, I have no phantom issues, I don’t have a limp,” Const. Pete Tucker told CTV News from his home Niagara Falls, Ont. “Everything in my life is better since the surgery.”
Tucker, who serves with the OPP’s Niagara Detachment, was involved in a horrific road accident when he hit an airborne Canada goose while driving a motorcycle north of Toronto, causing his left leg to be severed by a metal road barrier.
At first, Tucker used a traditional plastic prosthetic to regain his mobility after the accident, but the device caused him discomfort and pain. He then went to a private clinic in Montreal, which is the first in Canada to offer something called osseointegration.
Much like a dental implant, with osseointegration, doctors implant a titanium metal pole into the bone of a severed limb. A small piece of metal is then left protruding through the skin of the stump, to which a prosthetic limb is affixed.
Dr. Robert Turcotte is an orthopaedic surgeon who performed the procedure on Tucker in conjunction with the Montreal Gingras-Lindsay Rehabilitation Institute. He says that with the implant, amputees can better feel their movements.
“The implant is… bounded to the bone and so every vibration, every hit that the implant gets is transmitted directly through the bone,” Turcotte explained. “And people feel that, whether they walk on the carpet or they walk on concrete, they do feel the difference.”
Tucker’s prosthetic also includes a computer that helps him balance and locks if it senses that he is tipping. He is able to take the prosthetic leg on and off with a few simple turns of an Allen key.
“I just feel more confident, more like me,” Tucker said. “When I wear pants and walk properly and I can pull it off with no limp and nobody can tell, I feel even better.”
Tucker is only the second person to undergo the procedure in Canada. Previously, Canadians wanting to get such implants would have to travel to Europe or Australia at a cost of upwards of $100,000. About 1,000 people worldwide have undergone the procedure.
Because they are considered experimental, such implants are not currently covered by provincial health insurance plans. If they qualify, those who want to receive one in Montreal would have to pay for it themselves at a cost of over $44,000. There is currently a wait list of 15 people. Luckily for Tucker, though, his was paid for by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, which covers workplace compensation in Ontario.
“I feel more complete,” Tucker, who is now preparing to return to active duty, said. “I know I’ll never have my leg back again, but they’ve gotten me as close to having a leg back as I can get.”