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9

Introduction

“Losing a limb is a traumatic and life-changing experience. Your body is permanently altered, almost all aspects of your life are affected, and you may feel that no one could possibly understand what you’re going through. The information that follows is a brief, practical introduction to a new life after limb loss, and will show that you are not alone. With the help of modern technology, the pioneering performances of Paralympic athletes and the example of thousands of ordinary, determined people, those of us who have lost limbs are starting to realise that they can lead rich, fulfilling lives and achieve things that were almost unimaginable to previous generations.” − Ernst van Dyk

 

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Ernst van Dyk was born with congenital absence of both legs. Despite his disability, he demonstrated an affinity for sports codes of all kinds from an early age and was encouraged by his parents to participate in a wide range of activities, including gymnastics, swimming and even table tennis. His determination drove him to win the wheelchair race at the Boston Marathon a record-setting ten times, and in 2006 he received the prestigious Laureus World Sports Award for best sportsperson with a disability.

He has competed in seven Paralympic Games, winning multiple medals including a gold medal in Rio 2016. In 2010 he was awarded the Order of Ikhamanga by the president of South Africa. Not content with his achievements in sports, Ernst insists that one of his biggest personal accomplishments was being the first person with a disability to graduate with a degree in Sports Science from Stellenbosch University.

He has served on various bodies, including the IPC Sport Science Commission. In 2015 he joined Össur, where he is currently the National Sales Manager for South Africa.

 

“We encourage you to inform yourself, since being informed will help you take responsibility for your own well-being and ensure that you make the right choices and decisions on your path to healing. The good news is that artificial limbs have come a long way in recent years.” −Prof Wayne Derman

 

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Prof Wayne Derman is the Director of the Institute for Sport and Exercise Medicine (SEM) within the Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences at the University of Stellenbosch. Prof Derman is a past president of the South African Sports Medicine Association and is Co-director of the IOC research Center in South Africa. He has played an important role in the training of sports physicians, exercise scientists and biokineticists. His research has focused on secondary prevention of chronic disease of lifestyle, and injury and illness prevention in athletes especially those with disabilities.