On March 21, Roland Zahn, 74, began a 1,000-kilometer (620-mile) hike across Germany, from his birthplace in Leipzig to Tübingen, the city where he underwent a transfemoral amputation of his right leg in 2006. Zahn plans to complete the route in 104 days. He says his intention is not to establish a sports record, but rather to experience pleasure and liberation and also to encourage other amputees to become mobile again, according to a 2010 article in Niedersachsen Global.
Zahn told Niedersachsen Global that his motto for the hike is “Physical exercise is good for you.”
After his amputation, Zahn said he relied on a wheelchair for a year and believed he would never be able to hike again. It was his landlady who eventually persuaded him to try a prosthetic leg.
“The strain of walking even a short distance was enormous,” Zahn stated in an Otto Bock (Duderstadt, Germany) press release. “But even by the second attempt the next day it was much easier to go twice as far, and I built my strength up month by month.”
Zahn has been using a C-Leg® microprocessor knee since spring 2010, and because of his favorable experience with this and his prior prosthesis, he intends to discuss prosthetic treatment options and how to organize self-help groups with other amputees who join him along his trek, as well as encourage others to regain their mobility and to develop a new sense of self-confidence, according to Niedersachsen Global and the Otto Bock press release.