For Physicians and Medical Retailers Information for patients can be found here.

Back orthoses for a fighter Invictus – wounded, yet undefeated

Issue 02/2019

Submariners are no fair-weather sailors. Ups and downs are part of their life. What happened to Derek Speirs, though, was even beyond his strength. But the Canadian has fought his way back – with exercise and new strength.

In 2004, a Canadian submarine on a delivery journey is cruising along the Irish coast. On board: Derek Speirs. The Submariner has made his dream come true. He was seven years old when he spotted a submarine that was moored in Montreal’s harbor. His whole life he has wanted nothing more than take a trip on a submarine like the one he saw that day. During it’s maiden journey, his dream turns into a nightmare. A fire breaks out on board caused by an electrical short. Derek is on the scene as a first-aider. But for one of his comrades all help comes too late. Derek is haunted by the sailors death. He develops a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Two years on and Derek suffers a fall on his back while on duty. He fractures six vertebrae. The reason was an epileptic seizure, most likely due to PTSD.

LumboLoc Forte XT stabilizes the ­lumbar spine

What is ultimately more than anyone could take at this point is only the beginning of a long history of illness for Derek. Despite non-surgical treatment of the fractures, the muscles along the spine become irritated. As a result , abnormal movement patterns lead to several herniated discs in the lumbar spine. An arsenal of pain medication is deployed: morphine, cortisone, NSAIDs, botulinum toxin. The Submariner – who has since retired from active service – gets long-term relief from his chronic back pain through physical therapy and weight reduction – and by using the LumboLoc Forte XT back orthosis. The LumboLoc Forte version available on the Canadian and US markets comes with an additional abdominal pad to reinforce the straightening effect of the compression exerted on the abdominal cavity and features a large back pad that covers the entire lumbar spine and provides an intense stabilizing effect.

“I asked myself how? How was I supposed to row while standing, swim or play wheelchair basketball?”

Derek Speirs

Derek Speirs with the Spinova Unload Plus orthosis, which currently stabilizes him after spinal fusion surgery.

Invictus Games for veterans

In parallel with the ups and downs of the rehabilitation phase, something entirely unexpected happens. London plays host to the very first Invictus Games in 2014 – a Paralympic sporting event injured soldiers can take part in. Over 300 athletes from 13 countries are competing at the event. Most had fought on the side of Nato troops in the war in Afghanistan and were wounded during a mission. In the words of Prince Harry, patron of the event and himself a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan, the games are to “harness the power of sport to inspire recovery, support rehabilitation, and celebrate life beyond disability.” For the 2018 Invictus Games in Sydney, Australia, a veteran who currently has other things on his mind has been put forward: Derek Speirs.

“I thought my back was going to kill me”

“I asked myself how?” In disbelief, the candidate described his reaction. “There were times when the pain was so bad, I could barely stay on my legs. How was I supposed to row while standing, swim or play wheelchair basketball? But the vision of wearing the Canadian uniform once more and setting an example for other people with a physical disability is what got Derek moving: he trained, he fought , and he struggled. “At times I thought my back was going to kill me,” is how the now 47-year old remembers the tough preparation time in camp. When training with weights and doing leg presses, he wore the LumboLoc Forte XT for support. He made the selection and brought credit to his country, “Invictus” and lastly to himself.

While training for the Invictus Games, he wore the LumboLoc Forte XT with a large back pad.

Spinova Unload Plus for safe mobilization

After the games, Derek has a spinal fusion in the lumbar spine, which had been planned for some time. The timing is right. He is in great physical shape and rehabilitation should take three rather than six months. The treating physician, Dr. Denis Duranleau of Ste. Anne’s Hospital for veterans in Montreal , fits the Spinova Unload Plus back orthosis for Derek’s postoperative stabilization and safe mobilization. It stabilizes the entire lumbar spine and relieves above all the posterior vertebral edges with its lordosis-reducing frame. “I’m a big fan of Spinova Unload Plus,” professes Dr. Duranleau. “It supports the lower spine, with the circular compression and the strengthening effect of the abdominal pad also contributing to this support.” With noticeable success: “Many patients reported an immediate reduction in pain of at least 30 to 35 percent ,” according to the physician. Comfort also plays a role in this. “We also prescribe Spinova Unload Plus because it’s comfortable to wear and readily accepted. It helps patients with their everyday activities.” On what is hopefully the last leg of his recovery, Derek’s daily routine is marked by two main activities: riding his motorcycle and his great passion for cooking. Both easily achieved – with a strong back.

Images: Francis St-Pierre – Photographe (2), privat


Articles you could be interested in

Dr_Hee_Hwan_Tak

LumboLoc and LumboLoc Forte “Lumbar orthoses encourage patients to become mobile“

Adjunct Associate Professor Hee Hwan Tak is the Medical Director at Pinnacle Spine & Scoliosis Centre in Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre …