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Veteran counts down the days to the Invictus Games


Retired Master Corporal Mike Trauner is counting down the days to compete in the 2017 Invictus Games, almost nine years after he lost both legs in Afghanistan. Photo by Leah Cuffe.

Retired Master Corporal Mike Trauner has been breaking records at The Ottawa Hospital Rehabilitation Centre since 2009. Now he hopes to break some more at the 2017 Invictus Games, an international sporting event for wounded, injured or sick military service personnel and veterans.

After an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan severed both his legs and injured his arm in 2008, Trauner’s physiotherapist at The Ottawa Hospital predicted that he would never walk again. In 2009, Trauner defied expectations by mastering a computerized prosthetic limb. Trauner went on to snowshoe and bounce on a trampoline, activities never before seen at the rehabilitation centre.

“When he has pants on, it just looks like he has a small limp. You’d never know he was a double amputee,” said his wife, Leah Cuffe.

YIMC-Aug-9-Mike-Trauner-photo-2_credit-Leah-Cuffe_webPhoto by Leah Cuffe.

Trauner usually wears his prosthetic legs for three to eight hours a day. But he doesn’t need them to train for his Invictus events: rowing and hand-powered cycling. The games run Sept. 23 to 30 in Toronto and he will compete on Sept. 26 and 27.

“It’s so much harder than able-bodied cycling,” Trauner said. “Your legs are used to running and walking, but your arms aren’t used to that kind of endurance. I like biking because it doesn’t limit me. I can jump in and go without any assistance.”

He trains on the side roads in Pembroke near his house, with Cuffe following behind in a truck to keep the low-profile bike safe from traffic.

YIMC-Aug-9-Mike-Trauner-photo-3,-with-David-Nielen_webRetired Master Corporal Mike Trauner met with prosthetist David Nielen (left), who adjusted Trauner’s prosthetic legs to accommodate his growing muscles. He will represent Team Canada in the 2017 Invictus Games, Sept. 23 to 30 in Toronto.

As a result of his training, Trauner’s prosthetics need to be adjusted to keep them fitting perfectly over his growing muscles. This means multiple visits with prosthetist David Nielen, who has worked with Trauner since day one.

“The challenges with Mike have been different,” said Nielen. “He just has to think about exercise and he bulks up.”

During the nearly 100 days spent last year at The Ottawa Hospital, Trauner and Cuffe were well served by many different specialists.

“Anything he’s needed, it’s been available,” said Cuffe. “Even if staff didn’t know the answer, we felt like a priority.”


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Linda McCabe - August 10, 2017

This is such an inspiring story of one man’s determination to explore and achieve what has previously been thought of as impossible. He joins the likes of Roger Banister and many before him, paving the way for greater achievements to occur for the betterment of humanity. This type of success is made possible when determination and creativity join with other equally determined and creative people. All the best to Mike Trauner performance at the Invictus Games. Congratulations to the Rehab team as well.

Sandy McLeod - August 11, 2017

Go Team Trauner-Cuffe!

Don Timpson - August 15, 2017


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