Westboro bus crash survivor Marcie Stevens searches for new microchip knees as she starts walking again

“Being able to walk from my car to the grocery store would be awesome.”

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Nearly two years after she started learning to walk on prosthetic legs, Westboro bus crash survivor Marcie Stevens buys new knees.

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“It was a little weird being able to swing the leg,” she said after testing two different styles of prosthetics with microprocessor knees at The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Center last week.

“It’s one step closer to a normal gait… Being able to walk from my car to the grocery store would be awesome.”

The first steps will make the walking process easier for Stevens, who has been using knee brace prostheses until now. She has been bilaterally amputated since January 2019, when she was inside an OC Transpo double-decker bus that crashed into the Westboro station shelter canopy. Three people were killed and Stevens was among 23 others injured.

After a two-day coma and four surgeries less than a month after the crash, Stevens began her journey to live without her legs.

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Dr Nancy Dudeck, who works at the rehabilitation center, says walking again is very difficult for people like Stevens who have had above-knee leg amputations, as the loss of the knee and ankle takes away a large part of the power needed to propel the body forward. . As a result, Stevens has to use up to 300% more oxygen than the average person to walk.

“This is a very difficult level of amputation to learn to walk with prostheses,” Dudeck said.

“The vast majority of amputees at this level don’t return to walking,” she added, “(but Marcie is) someone who understood and was very accepting of the work it was going to take to get to the point where she might consider using prostheses.

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Purchasing new knees has been hampered due to the lack of bilateral above-knee amputees in many women, Stevens says. She adds that it’s been hard to find other women to talk about the user-friendliness of a product she’s committed to for three to five years and “basically costs as much as a car, each.”

Additionally, the pandemic has meant Stevens has had to wait longer to use microprocessor laps as COVID-19 has caused delays to many surgeries and rattled supply chains.

“I was only supposed to walk with my knees locked until I reached the height I wanted to be, (but) everything got delayed. The surgeries I had to have before I could get the legs of the microprocessor have been delayed due to COVID.

Despite the challenges, however, Stevens remains motivated to push forward.

She’s been following a rigorous workout routine since March 2020, seeing a personal trainer three times a week, working on her cardio and core at a home gym, and meeting with a physical therapist.

“When you’re going through a lot of tough times, you basically have to find the good in what happened,” Stevens said.

“Just because people knock you down or you get a bad card doesn’t mean you’re cowering. You have to get up and keep going.”

Marcie Stevens has been a bilateral amputee since January 2019, when she was inside an OC Transpo double-decker bus that crashed into the Westboro station shelter canopy.
Marcie Stevens has been a bilateral amputee since January 2019, when she was inside an OC Transpo double-decker bus that crashed into the Westboro station shelter canopy. Photo by Jacob Fergus, The Ottawa Hospital /Handout

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