Building A Bionic Body

Edgard John Augustin lost both legs in an accident at age 4. Today, he is a champion bodybuilder.

One fateful evening, when Edgard John Augustin was 4 years old, his mother lost control of the car while driving on the highway. “I remember waking up to my mother’s horrified screams,” he recalls. “There was blood everywhere, and, from the knees down, both of my legs were gone. My older brother, who was sitting next to me in the backseat, was also missing one of his legs.” The injuries were caused by a piece of railing boring through the rear window.

By the time they were taken to the hospital, both boys had lost a lot of blood. “We’re really lucky to have made it out alive,” continues Edgard, now 30. “And while our mother only suffered a few broken fingers, the accident has had the longest-lasting impact on her. To this day, she feels like it’s her fault that both of her sons are handicapped. It weighs heavily on her soul.”

Starting Over

Shortly after being released from the hospital, Edgard was flown to a facility in Paris specializing in rehabilitating war veterans and other amputees. He would spend the next year learning how to walk again and adjusting to his new lifestyle.

“It was a long process that took a lot of patience,” he recalls. “At first, I was dependent on a set of parallel bars to help me stand and move around. In time, I was gradually able to walk with crutches, and then with my prostheses alone.”

For Edgard, those 12 months were akin to a child learning how to walk for the first time. And while, as an adult, he has adjusted to his prostheses, walking is still not quite the second-nature endeavor it is for others. “The hardest part about walking with prosthetic feet is learning how to manage your balance,” he says. “The lack of an ankle and the rotation that normally comes with it can make it tricky to find your equilibrium. I rely a lot on my upper body to make up for the limited balance of my legs. For example, if I don’t hold on to something while standing in a train or a bus, there’s a good chance I’ll fall down.”

Once he was cleared from the rehabilitation facility, Edgard moved back to his hometown in the South American nation of French Guiana. Growing up, the most difficult thing for him was dealing with all the stares and comments from his peers at school. “The other kids would look at my legs and make fun of me,” he recalls. “They called me ‘robot legs’. Sometimes it would really get to me.”

Fortunately, enduring the accident so early in life made it easier for Edgard to live with it. “Had I received my handicap as a teenager or an adult, I think it would have been much more difficult to cope with,” he explains. “At least, in my case, I didn’t really know any other way of living, so it didn’t take as harsh of a toll, mentally and emotionally. I never suffered from depression or suicidal thoughts, thankfully.”

As far as sports are concerned, they were never really Edgard’s thing as a child. “I preferred eating to exercising,” he chuckles. “You know, the good life.” Ironically, in spite of his handicap and lack of interest in athletics, running was his forte. “I always excelled at running in phys ed,” he continues. “I was always faster than all the other kids in my class. I’m not sure why, I just was.”

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