As a triple amputee, Jan-Christoph Ihrens presented us with a special challenge. He is currently fitted with a transfemoral prosthesis with C-Leg, a transtibial prosthesis with the Harmony system and a myoelectric upper arm prosthesis.
Jan was also willing to answer a few questions for us:
Ralph Scharpenberg: Hello Jan, nice to be able to interview you as well. Would you like to tell us a little about yourself and your prosthetic fitting?
Jan-Christoph Ihrens: Sure. I just turned 40, I’m 1.78m tall and I weigh… Well, it’s hard to say, because I can only weigh myself with prostheses. With my two prosthetic legs, jeans, T-shirt and shoes, I currently weigh 67 kg, but I don’t think that figure is very meaningful.
Eleven years ago, I had my left thigh, right lower leg and left upper arm amputated after an accident. I was very lucky to have my first interim prostheses built by you, and I don’t regret having to make the somewhat longer journey from my home in Kiel to Rostock more often when something needs to be done to my fittings. So far you have managed to get a grip on every problem. At the moment, I am equipped Robocop-like with a C-Leg, a lower leg prosthesis with Harmony system and a myoelectric arm prosthesis – a lot of high-tech.
Professionally, I have been self-employed as a web developer and web designer for seven years.
Ralph Scharpenberg: And you are also quite active in sports?
Jan-Christoph Ihrens: Yes. I already played table tennis for a few years as a teenager. After a “short” break of 20 years, I started again about four years ago. At first, I played exclusively in a team with non-disabled people at the district level, but after a little over a year, I also became interested in disabled sports and joined a special disabled sports club for this purpose, which supports its athletes very well. In the meantime, I train in my “main club”, plus privately with a very good trainer and in the Schleswig-Hostein Performance Centre for Disabled Sports Table Tennis for a total of between six and nine hours a week.
Ralph Scharpenberg: Do you need special prostheses for your sport?
Jan-Christoph Ihrens: No, I don’t see any need for that at the moment. The C-Leg and transtibial prosthesis provide me with the necessary stability and balance combined with great flexibility – I don’t see how this could be greatly improved. I don’t use the arm prosthesis when I’m playing; it’s a bit of a nuisance when I’m doing sports – in contrast to most everyday situations.
Ralph Scharpenberg: Have you already had some successes?
Jan-Christoph Ihrens: Two promotions in three seasons with my “non-disabled team”, a third place in the singles at the district championships (also in the non-disabled category) and three participations in the German championships in disabled sports would be highlights. At the last DM, I at least made it to the quarter-finals, so I finished in 5th place. No world-class results yet, but I’m working on it. (grins)
Ralph Scharpenberg: Do you have any advice for our customers?
Jan-Christoph Ihrens: As Nick already said: You must not give up, you have to keep working on yourself. There are moments when that seems frustrating, but on the other hand it is amazing what you can achieve – not least thanks to good prosthetic technology – even as an amputee.
Ralph Scharpenberg: Then thank you for the interview and I wish you continued success in table tennis!