Matt: A Momentum brace

Matts Story

Matt Delany began his career as an infantry soldier for the British Army in 1989. He served in the army for four years until an accident in 1991 left him severely injured. Now in 2017, Matt works as a Social Worker and lives in Dartmoor with his wife Michaela. Both enjoy spending their free time exploring the breath taking walks over the hills and valleys which Somerset has to offer.

In 1991 Matt was on a tour of active duty with the Grenadier Guards in Northern Ireland. Whilst on a foot patrol in South Armagh, Matt and his colleagues came under fire and Matt sustained a serious injury to his leg after jumping over a nearby wall and landing on uneven ground. With a fractured tibia and fibula, Matt underwent several unsuccessful surgeries to try and manipulate the fractures back into position before his bones were fixed in place with metal fittings.

After several years of recurrent pain, infection, neuroma’s and multiple surgeries including subtalar and ankle joint fusion, Matt began to consider the possibility of amputation and contacted the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (BLESMA) for advice on the prosthetic options that were available to ex-service personnel. He was told by them that there was a new ankle foot orthosis that may be an option for him, Momentum, which works by reducing the forces acting upon the foot and ankle, taking the patients weight partially through a custom made knee cuff, much the same as a below knee prosthetic would do.

Naturally, Matt was sceptical about the brace. After years of promises from surgeons claiming that surgery would relieve him symptoms, Matt explained that he was trying the brace as a final option before having an elective amputation.

In July 2015, Matt met Nicole Bennett, Clinical Lead Orthotist, at Blatchford Clinic in Basingstoke to be cast for the brace and he returned to Basingstoke in early August to take delivery. Matt admits that he didn’t believe it would help. However, when he put the brace on it immediately felt different.

On 1 March 2016, after being off work for 6 years, Matt went back to work for Devon County Council. There were no workplace adaptations or adjustments required. Matt is able to operate in his work place completely unencumbered by his injury and his complex medical history and disabilities are now behind him. It’s somewhat appropriate then, that he now works as part of the community enabling team working with people with long- term medical conditions.

Nicole Bennett, Blatchford Clinical Lead Orthotist at Headley Court, clinically led this project and after trialling a number of different carbon fibre lay-ups, Blatchford formally launched the Momentum, military spec, carbon fibre AFO that is both light- weight and robust enough to withstand the forces generated through running, jumping and other dynamic endurance activities.

“It has been a privilege to be part of Matt’s journey and to see him go from strength to strength over the last 18 months. When Matt arrived in our clinic he was in severe pain, disheartened, and very sceptical. Having endured years of interventions which sadly gave limited success I fully understood and empathised with his scepticism. I have treated injured military personnel with similar injuries successfully using the Momentum brace, so I was quietly confident after our assessment that we would be able to improve Matt’s pain and function.

When Matt came to Basingstoke to fit his Momentum Brace for the first time I think we were both anxious yet excited about how it would go. I have found over the years the first few laps of the clinic room can be a bit like marmite. Some patients initially dislike what feels at the time like a very rigid brace, whilst others literally put it on and stride up and down the clinic with a gleaming smile across their face. For those who struggle initially often some basic gait re-education soon changes their initial perceptions. However Matt was one of those who put it on and off he went! He got a feel for it very quickly and we all knew this was going to be a game changer for him and his abilities.

Through hard working following his rehabilitation programme he not only smashed his own rehabilitation goals, but has set new life challenges which far exceed his and most certainly my expectations looking back at the man I met in July 2015.”