Prosthetic promise is a step up for soldiers

Craig Winspear at home in Marsh Gibbon. Picture: OX55157 Damian Halliwell

Pte Craig Winspear in Afghanistan before his accident

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by

A HEROIC soldier who lost both his legs in Afghanistan is delighted he may get two state-of-the-art bionic prosthetics.

Dad-of-one Private Craig Winspear was searching for a hidden mine in Afghanistan in December 2011 when he lost his balance and landed on a second explosive device.

He lost both his legs from just above the knee and last week had a pair of mechanised prosthetics fitted.

But Pte Winspear is hoping these will be upgraded to the latest Genium legs after the Government announced a new £6.5 million package for injured members of the armed forces.

The new Genium legs mean amputees can step over obstacles, walk up stairs and even allow the wearer to walk backwards.

Pte Winspear, who lives in Marsh Gibbon and serves with 23 Pioneer Regiment in Bicester, said: “It is absolutely brilliant, I was relieved to hear the announcement, just over the moon.

“I only just got an old version of bionic legs last week which are not as good, so hopefully I will get the new ones. Americans have had them for years so it is big talk between me and the lads.

“It will make life a whole lot easier so we can move better and climb stairs without having to worry.

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“I have had what we call stumpies which you can’t use for very long and are quite painful.”

The 30-year-old has only been able to walk for the past six months on the older-style prosthetics. Last week he was at military rehabilitation centre at Headley Court, Surrey, for a new pair of mechanised bionic legs to be fitted. He is likely to be there for up to two years.

The newer Genium legs will be fitted where deemed clinically appropriate and about 160 amputees who served in Afghanistan or Iraq are expected to get them. The servicemen will be evaluated at Headley Court in the next few weeks and months and Pte Winspear hopes he will be one of them.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Chris Fletcher said: “Following life-changing injuries sustained while in the line of duty, both 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, with its HQ in Didcot, and Bicester-based 23 Pioneer Regiment who provide the Improvised Explosive Devices search teams have unfortunately seen some of their soldiers having to be fitted with prosthetic limbs.

“It is an ever-present reality keenly felt within the bomb disposal community, so to hear of this commitment to the best of today’s technology to help these most deserving of heroes is greatly welcomed.”

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