The return to active life

Double amputee returns to active life in less than a year

Ed Urquhart 
Ed Urquhart


July 2017

(Toronto) - In just one year, West Park Healthcare Centre’s Amputee Rehabilitation program helped 28-year old Ed Urquhart get his life back after a horrific motorcycle accident resulted in the amputation of both of his legs. Urquhart is already back playing golf and enjoying his role as a new father to his three-month old son.

“Access to inpatient rehab and a full-service prosthetics lab are key to an amputee’s recovery,” says Dr. Steven Dilkas, Physiatrist, Specializing in Amputee Rehabilitation, West Park Healthcare Centre. “Edward is an excellent example of how quickly someone can bounce back after such a traumatic experience if they have the drive and the necessary rehab structure.”

West Park’s prosthetic lab serves the greatest number of patients in Ontario, with nearly 60% of upper extremity and 50% of lower-extremity amputations in the GTA.

Nationally, 200,000 Canadians are living with limb loss, of which 110,000 are under age 65. The reasons for amputations are often due to vascular disease or trauma.

One year to recovery

On July 15, 2016, Urquhart and a friend were testing out a high performance motorcycle at a track in Hamilton when tragedy struck in the last run of the day. Urquhart lost control of the motorcycle, smashed into a concrete guide rail and was thrown into a nearby ditch.

“As soon as EMS arrived, I told them my legs were gone. I knew they had to be amputated,” says Urquhart.

After initial treatment at Hamilton Health Sciences, Urquhart was referred to West Park, one of the few facilities in Canada that provides amputees with the full continuum of care right on site – from start to finish.

“The process of finding a great rehab centre is difficult,” says Urquhart. “When a bed became available at West Park, it meant the process of getting my life back together was happening.”

Statistics show rehab improves survival rate and quality of life

According to Dr. Steven Dilkas, who is also co-Chief Medical Officer for the upcoming Invictus Games in Toronto rehab is crucial for getting amputee patients out of wheelchairs and walking with a prosthetic limb, allowing them to regain their mobility and independence.

Studies also show that amputees who receive inpatient rehabilitation have a better one-year survival rate, are more likely to be discharged and return to their lives at home and are more likely to receive a prosthetic within a year after surgery.

Intense Rehab Showed Progress

Eager to get back to his active life, Urquhart underwent three hours of intense rehab a day. 

“I saw progress from day one. My physiotherapist told me I needed to strengthen and regain the flexibility of my hips, glutes, hams and quads; maintain a good diet and start to build back the muscle I lost. I wanted my prosthetics as soon as possible so I could get out of my motorized wheelchair.”

“The goal is for patients to build up enough confidence so they can work more on their own,” says Dr. Dilkas. After two weeks, Urquhart was fitted for a prosthetic on his left leg.

“Getting my prosthetics made me feel seven feet tall,” says Urquhart. “It was the best feeling in the world – second only to the birth of my son.”

If you would like to watch the Global News piece on Ed Urquhart, go here