Though an injury requiring amputation is often considered unfortunate, that is not always the case, as we discovered after talking with 41-year-old Janz Stein of Regina. Janz was a skateboarder and martial arts fighter before shattering his tibia and fibula and dislocating his left ankle during a dirt bike accident, in 2011. The damage was so severe that doctors surgically inserted 18 screws and three metal plates to fix it.
Despite the reconstructive surgeries, Janz experienced constant pain. Doctors suggested fusing his ankle and leg, but the results would have hindered his movement, his job and his lifestyle. “I have a physically demanding job, so my career probably would’ve been shot with the fusion,” says Janz, who owns a hauling business and a metal-working shop, in addition to coaching Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. “The likelihood of me continuing my life as I wanted was nil.” So, after considerable research and contemplation, Janz was led to consider amputation.
Though many doctors tried to change his mind, he knew this was his only way forward and a below-the-knee amputation took place in June, 2013. After considerable healing time and a few corrective surgeries, he was fitted for a prosthetic leg implant. When people lose a limb, it is important that they have timely access to quality orthotic/prosthetic services to facilitate the rehabilitation process. In southern Saskatchewan we are fortunate to have the Orthotic and Prosthetic Department, at Wascana Rehabilitation Centre (WRC) in Regina, which provides high quality orthotic and prosthetic services and products to both adults and children.
Janz says his doctors, as well as his prosthetist (a healthcare professional specializing in prosthetic and orthotic treatment), are great and his experience has been very positive at WRC. They provide physiotherapy, chiropractic services, x-ray services, therapy pools, and the prosthetic clinic all in the same facility. Few other facilities combine all these specialties in one building. “We are very fortunate to have this here,” says Janz.
“Our prosthetics program aims to be a one stop shop for amputees. We serve many patients, ranging from children with birth defects, to grandparents with diabetic foot wounds, to elite athletes,” says Dr. Yifan Wang, Janz’s Physiatrist at WRC. “It involves a lot of trouble shooting and this is especially true in the case of Janz - an elite athlete. His case is a perfect example illustrating the importance of supporting Hospitals of Regina Foundation in their efforts to keep crucial prosthetic/orthotic services going here in Regina.”
This journey transformed Janz’s life. He switched to track and field, and within two years he was competing and winning against both para and open class athletes. He recently won 3 gold medals in a row, qualified for the last 3 Paralympics and is now focusing on competing in the Paris Paralympics in 2024. We wish him the best!