Paralympic shooter, Ben Jesson is back on his feet and has returned to vigorous training after being fitted with a new pair of SAFOs (Silicone Ankle-Foot Orthosis) from Dorset Orthopaedic.

Ben, now 26, was diagnosed with CMT (Charcot Marie Tooth), the hereditary nervous system disorder, when he was 15 years old. CMT results in Drop Foot, causing difficulty in moving the ankle and toes upwards and recently Ben’s condition deteriorated so that he had become a wheelchair user. Orthotist, Matthew Hughes, worked closely with Ben to custom-design his SAFOs to help him to walk again.

Ben explained: “My new SAFOs provide enough support so that I am able to walk again. It is an absolutely amazing thing as I was feeling so unhappy about having to use a wheelchair and now I am up and walking around again!”

Walking tall

The Orthosis supports the front of Ben’s leg down to the top of his foot with reinforced silicone, keeping his foot at 90 degrees. This helps Ben lift his foot whilst his leg swings when walking.

Matthew commented: “As Ben is part of the Paralympic Shooting team he requires a solution that allows him to keep active. He needs stability around his feet and ankles and the SAFO is perfect for this as it makes a dramatic improvement to how his feet are held. Ben gains about 90% support from the custom-made SAFOs and the other 10% from insoles, which are designed to work in conjunction. This combination gives Ben the corrective support to increase his comfort and allow him to walk.”

In keeping with Ben’s Paralympic status, the SAFOs were designed accordingly, featuring the iconic Lion of ParalympicsGB on the side. Ben made his Paralympic debut competing for the shooting team in London 2012. He is already training hard for the upcoming Rio 2016 Paralympics, training between four and six days a week and for up to 10 hours a day.

“If I was picked for the 2016 Paralympics I would be extremely humbled and honoured to have been selected for two Games running” said Ben, adding:  “I would be eager to compete in those Games and give a better performance. I would love to come back with a medal!”

Ben had previously been struggling with standing shooting events, but now with the help of his new SAFOs, he has been able to increase his training in preparation for Rio 2016. “For many years I struggled to find the support and correct equipment, but Matt came along and made the suggestions and adaptations to the designs and they literally work perfectly. With his help and the new SAFOs I’ve gone from being wheelchair bound to back up on my feet and walking around!”