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  #1  
Old 01-19-2021, 11:20 AM
colojo's Avatar
colojo colojo is online now
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Location: Newport Beach, CA
Posts: 350
Default Anyone flying an RV taildragger with a fused ankle?

I had my ankle fused about 3 months ago and am well on my way to recovery. Last week I taxied my RV-8 around the ramp and did a run-up to see if I could flex the ankle enough to reliably steer and brake. I could, but not by much. I definitely don't feel confident enough to fly yet; I'm going to give my ankle another couple weeks or so to loosen up a little more before I try that.

My question is: Has anyone else here had ankle fusion surgery? Are you able to safely operate your taildragger, especially during landings? Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 01-20-2021, 11:32 AM
scootwoot scootwoot is offline
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Granite Bay, CA
Posts: 70
Default

I would think differential braking would be tough with the standard pedals. I don't have your situation, so I can't state for fact. There are always solutions.

Regards
Bill
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  #3  
Old 01-20-2021, 01:07 PM
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JIM_NORCAL JIM_NORCAL is offline
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: San Rafael, CA
Posts: 4
Default Fused Prosthetic ankle

I wear a prosthetic left leg below the knee. My knee is fine which is why I am quite ambulatory. The ankle has some flex but no control. I fly an RV-12 which while not a taildragger does use differential braking. I cut a 1/2" thick piece of wood the shape of the top (toe end) of my shoe and epoxied a couple of velcro straps to it with which I can strap it to the toe end of my shoe. In the air this does basically nothing as I can push the rudder with leg action just fine. On the ground I can apply the brake by holding the right rudder firm (no toe action) and pushing with my left leg which applies the brake because the wood block is contacting the top bar (brake). This works well enough that I can lock the left tire and pirouette around it. Actually, the last couple of flights with new shoes revealed that I should not use them for flying as the toe end is so flexible that it is hard to get real pressure with the right brake as the toe curls up and doesn't push firmly.

I have been checked out for tail draggers (Citabria) prior to having a motorcycle. Yes, I got hit hence the amputation. Anyway, a while back I did an upset recovery exercise in an instructor's Citabria. I didn't wear the wood device but I could take off and land keeping the plane straight without braking, as it should be. The instructor did the taxiing but I have no doubt that the same block or something similar would work in the Citabria.

PM if you want to discuss further.

Jim
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  #4  
Old 01-20-2021, 02:49 PM
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Roadjunkie1 Roadjunkie1 is offline
 
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Location: Erie, Colorado
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I have a friend that lost both feet in an accident and has two prosthetic feet from the ankles down. He flies a Hatz Biplane and doesn't seem to have much problem. If you didn't know he had prosthetics, you wouldn't be able to tell.

Your ankle will get more flexible the further you are out from surgery and you will also adapt to the "new you" down there. DO your physical therapy!!
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  #5  
Old 01-20-2021, 08:56 PM
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Carlos151 Carlos151 is offline
 
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Location: Lebanon, TN
Posts: 336
Default +1 for PT

Had my left ankle rebuilt a few years back after taking the express route off a ladder. Took some time to get the flexibility back to operate the brakes but as previously mentioned, PT is the key. Do what they tell you and youll get back to flying in short order. Took me 4 months after surgery and Id say motion was back to 95%. Took another year to get the last 5%.
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  #6  
Old 01-20-2021, 09:01 PM
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colojo colojo is online now
 
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Thanks everyone for your replies. I'm definitely doing my PT and the ankle is getting a little more flexible every day. Of course, it will never be as flexible as a normal ankle because it is fused, but I think I'll be back in the air soon.
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  #7  
Old 01-21-2021, 06:15 AM
wilddog wilddog is online now
 
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Location: va.
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[quote=Roadjunkie1;1495993]I have a friend that lost both feet in an accident and has two prosthetic feet from the ankles down. He flies a Hatz Biplane and doesn't seem to have much problem.

Hatz built per plans uses heel brakes.
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Old 01-22-2021, 09:53 AM
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Roadjunkie1 Roadjunkie1 is offline
 
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Location: Erie, Colorado
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Default Toe vs heel brakes

Quote:
Originally Posted by wilddog View Post

Hatz built per plans uses heel brakes.
True, that. But I fly both heel and toe brakes and both take a reasonable amount of flexibility in my aging ankles. I think the heel brakes in the Cub (similar to the Hatz) take more flexibility of the ankle joints than the toe brakes in SuzieQ, just in another direction, dorsiflexion (toes up, heel down) in the Cub vs plantarflexion (just toes down) in SuzieQ. The radius of movement is larger in the Cub. I usually wear Goat-roper cowboy boots with a 2 inch heel in the Cub. Reach those brakes without as much movement.

The point here being that a person can fly having had and ankle fused or messed with in other ways, my friend's example being of the extreme. Any amount of flexibility gained after surgery (with the help of PT, of course, and exercises done on their own), and adapting to the new limits of flexibility will contribute to being confident on brakes in various aircraft.

Besides, brakes are for sissies
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