We asked the South Pole Expedition Manager: As a below knee double leg amputee, what physical challenges will Duncan face in Antarctica?
Duncan’s legs get really cold because of diminished blood circulation in his stumps … the cold chamber highlighted this and it proved that it was really valuable, essential preparation and training. In Iceland, in March, we only got down to an air temperature of -15, with wind chill of -35, whilst in the cold chamber they were subjected to -58 wind chill; this really gave them an idea of what conditions will likely be in Antarctica at some point. For Dunc, keeping his stumps warm is key, and the cold chamber highlighted this more than we thought. We have subsequently made more adjustments to his clothing and insulation of his upper legs. Dunc has also been working with the rehabilitation facility that makes his prosthetic lower legs to ensure the prosthetics fit properly and function normally. One of his prosthetic legs became detached during training in Iceland, causing Dunc to fall over – he thought it was hilarious, but there is a significant potential for injury to the stump if the prosthetic limb fails. Keeping on top of this for him, will be key for Duncan.
Duncan, who was serving in Afghanistan when his patrol vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb, is determined to show that limitations are only in the mind.
“ When I was blown up I thought that my life was to be limited, I was told by my doctor that I would never walk or run without pain again. I was determined to prove otherwise. I want to show others that amputees can do anything. ” – Sgt. Duncan Slater.