All good things must come to an end, and this is the case for my Seattle adventure. I enjoyed working at the AOPA conference, meeting new people and reconnecting with friends. AOPA is the national organization for prosthetists and orthotists. After a long day (and night) of traveling, I am home at last.
I remain in awe and excited about the advances that are being made in the field of prosthetics. From knees to ankles to liners and socks, improvements to existing products and brand new innovations are being created at a furious pace. I once read that the majority of advances in the field of prosthetics have come during periods of conflict and war. After being at the conference and seeing the advances first hand, I would have to agree.
There is no better time in history to be an amputee. Although technology will never replace the lost limb, the advances made will continue to improve the quality of all of our lives. Computers are getting faster, are more compact and are more powerful. This is a powerful triad for amputees. If you haven't discussed new technology with your prosthetist, I urge you to do so.
I was hesitant to start using a computerized ankle. After all, I was getting around fine on my prosthetic. At the time I was using a low profile veri-flex, a good multi-purpose foot. It wasn't until I experienced computerized prosthetics that I realized that I had been settling for less.
Before I started to use the Proprio foot, I was a cautious walker. Because my ankle did not have motion or kinesthetic feedback, I was constantly analyzing my walking path to identify all possible obstacles. I accepted this new walking style as necessary because of my amputation, and I never really thought about it. After all, I was walking. I assumed that this would be my new reality.
The Proprio foot has increased my confidence and has virtually eliminated the need to analyze and plan when walking. In layman's terms, the ankle lifts up the toe of the prosthetic, virtually eliminating the risk of stumbling and falling. It also adjusts when I am walking up and down stairs and ramps. No more "Hulk Hogan toe walking" for me up ramps. I can walk flat footed, just like everybody else!
I agreed to travel to the conference to discuss my experience with the Proprio foot because it has absolutely changed my life as an amputee. I never realized how much energy and time I spent looking down, planning my next step when walking. As I learned to trust the computer in the ankle, I began to interact and socialize when walking with my friends, husband or child.
I am lucky that I am a below knee amputee. I cannot even fathom the difficulties and obstacles faced by the above knee or hand/arm amputee. The technology being developed and implemented for knee and arm prosthetics was fascinating. There are currently a myriad of companies developing and refining technology to assist the above knee and arm amputee.
Being able to hold a conversation, look around and walk is a skill set many non-amputees take for granted. Because of the Proprio foot and the technology it utilizes, I have been able to regain this lost "luxury." I am excited about the advances in prosthetics. I am certain that future advances will continue to improve the quality of the lives of all amputees.