I enjoy these "Ossur trips" for a multitude of reasons. Although I miss my boys, I welcome the opportunity to stretch my professional wings. I occasionally need to be reminded that I am more than a caretaker, and that my opinion is valuable. For a few days I am afforded the ability to relax and indulge without guilt. Of course, the extra income is welcome.
I suppose the main reason I enjoy these seminars is because I learn volumes of information pertinent to being an amputee. I don't know all of the muscles that are being discussed, and much of the jargon goes over my head. However, I am able to glean some tidbits that I am excited to share.
Did you know that there is a 10-25% increase in energy expenditures for amputees completing everyday activities? No wonder I'm so tired by the end of the day. My body is working harder just walking around the house and taking care of Robby. The amputees' muscles must compensate for the lost limb, causing them to work harder and longer.
I never went through formal physical therapy after my amputation. My lack of formal gait training is perhaps my biggest amputee-related regret. I've tried requesting therapy only to be told that it is too late. Apparently my insurance adjuster doesn't see the value since I am fully ambulatory.
I learned that 41% of all below knee amputees, and 63% of all above knee amputees will develop arthritis in their sound side knee within their lifetime. This is significantly higher than the 22% of the general public who will be affected. The single factor to reduce the probability that arthritis will develop is gait training. Normalizing the way that the amputee walks by teaching the individual to put equal weight on the amputated side is the only way to reduce the chances of being afflicted.
All people who have been amputees for at least two years have experienced reductions in bone density. Wow. The fact that 100% of all amputees lose density after two years just astounds me! 80% of all amputees had at least a 28% reduction in their bone density. Just for comparison, a 28% loss brings a diagnosis of osteoporosis. Just another reason to take your calcium supplement or to drink your milk.
Not all of the information I learned was disheartening. I learned that the Knights of Columbus has just pledged to provide 600 Haitian children (that is the estimated number of amputee children now in Haiti) with three prosthetics each for the next two years. Because of their generosity and through the compassion of the prosthetists and physical therapists volunteering their time and talents, no Haitian amputee child will be left without the tools necessary to walk or to play.
My head is spinning with all of the information that I tried to absorb yesterday. Today I'll be participating in more classes. I can hardly wait to discover and share more.