In this new blog series, we’ll be following STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor Carlo Yanez as he guides his client Alex Dainty, a 28-year-old double amputee, on an inspirational rehab journey.
Alex Dainty, 28, became a double amputee eight years ago after he was hit by a drunk driver while walking home from a pub in Galway, Ireland.
While in an induced coma, both legs were amputated through the knee, leaving him with his femurs intact but no knee joints.
“My day-to-day life is massively different. It’s all been about adaptation and trying to find a way around things that used to be very easy. Everything comes with a new level of difficulty; it’s either harder, takes longer, or both,” Alex says.
While in hospital for eight weeks, his physiotherapist recommended Pilates because of its focus on core strength and stability.
“I had a lot of muscle loss during that time. Without ankle muscles or knee joints, my core and glutes have to take over all of the balance functions and fine movements that my lower leg muscles and joints used to do. I have to stand upright and balance on my knees, that’s what it comes down to,” Alex says.
While continuing with rehab treatment full-time, Alex started taking private Pilates sessions in Galway.
“It was much more challenging than I was expecting and that intrigued me. My instructor would demonstrate something and tell me to do it, and I’d think, ‘That looks easy, no problem,’ only to try it and discover how hard it actually was. Pilates offers a challenge in a very friendly and approachable way and that motivated me.”
About a year ago, Alex started working with STOTT PILATES® Certified Instructor Carlo Yanez, a registered osteopath and owner of boutique studio Core Kensington in London, England. Carlo is also enrolled in the STOTT PILATES Rehab Program.
“Core Kensington was one of the very few studios in London that indicated that it was able to tailor Pilates to a rehab client like myself,” Alex says.
“I wasn’t just looking for a studio that was friendly and welcoming, but one that was also equipped to help someone in my situation. It wasn’t as easy to find as I thought it would be.”
Designing a STOTT PILATES program for a rehab client
“It was a bit intimidating at the beginning because I’d never had a client like Alex before,” Carlo says. “But it posed a new challenge for me and that was exciting. I researched the particular exercise needs of this population. I wanted to find out everything I could about double amputees in order to understand how they manage their physical limitations.”
Carlo assessed him like he would any other client, identifying his strengths, weaknesses, limitations and goals. After that initial meeting, Carlo felt confident that with his knowledge and training in STOTT PILATES, rehab and osteopathy, he would be able to contribute to Alex’s rehab plan and improve his wellbeing.
“From my initial observations, I could immediately see where the muscle imbalances were. I designed a program to increase his core, glute, hamstring and upper girdle strength and stability, and improve his overall mobility,” Carlo says.
Over the year, as Alex has gotten stronger and achieved milestones, the program has evolved, with the long term goal being to get him standing and walking on his long prosthetic legs.
“Since we were working on a lot of the same exercises over and over again, I added minor variations to keep it fun and interesting. This was a challenge because I had to figure out when and how to adapt the V2 Max™ Reformer and SPX® Max Reformer to best support him. Initially, we worked with his short prosthetic legs until he had the strength and technique to do the exercises with his long prosthetics on,” Carlo says.
How a regular Pilates practice helped this rehab client regain his strength
After a year of one hour sessions, three times a week, Alex has seen some significant improvement.
“Before starting regular Pilates sessions with Carlo, I could barely stand up on my long prosthetic legs and attempting a step was not possible. The first step is incredibly difficult. You need to shift your weight completely from one leg to the other, and then balance and stabilize on that one leg as you bring the other leg forward. It takes an incredible amount of control.
“Now, a year later, I have the strength and stability to stand up on my long prosthetic legs and take that first step forward without struggling over it,” Alex says.
“Pilates has helped me live easier. The stronger my core is and the more stable and flexible I am, the less I have to work at everyday tasks. I can do more each day.”
Find out more about Carlo’s teaching process and how he helped Alex achieve his goal in our next blog, coming out in February!