Yesterday morning I woke up early, quietly drank my coffee, got dressed, and left for work. Both of my boys were still sound asleep as I sneaked out of the house and drove away. I haven't joined rush hour traffic en route to work since Robby was born!
invited to speak to a group of prosthetists about my experiences with a
bionic ankle. I am always happy to share my story in the hopes that
those practitioners who are hesitant to try new technology might be
motivated to learn and expand their component repertoire. I am lucky to
have a husband who understands how the correct prosthetic can change a
life and understands my passion to help other amputees. He rearranged
his work schedule so that he could stay with Robby allowing me to
accept the invitation to speak to this group.
time I meet with a group of prosthetists, I am both energized and
deflated. I'm excited about sharing my story and showing the
practitioner the power that they hold when fitting a patient with a
prosthetic. A comfortable socket combined with appropriate components
can be a game-changer for an amputee. Unfortunately, my excitement is
always tempered with sadness when I realize how many amputees are
settling for poor prosthetic care.
Sitting in a
room overflowing with experienced prosthetists, the instructor asked
those who have experience with bionic devices to raise their hands. Two
hands went up. One hand was mine and the other was Elliot, my
practitioner. He was shocked, but I wasn't surprised. I've seen the same
responses across the country since I've started interacting with these
Bionic technology is relatively new, especially
concerning microprocessor ankles which became available only five years
ago. Unless the practitioner has graduated from college within that
time, these devices were not included in his or her curriculum. They are
new and require a concerted effort to learn how to use them and how
they can benefit a patient with them. The older I am becoming, the more I
am beginning to realize that too many people become complacent and set
in a pattern, unwilling to expand their horizons. Unfortunately, it is
the amputee who truly suffers.
Prosthetists who do not
feel comfortable fitting microprocessor devices often tell their
patients that the components are "no good" or that the ankles "are not
worth the price or the hype." Some simply say that the ankle is "not
appropriate for them" and proceed to fit the patient with the same
components that they have always utilized.
myself fortunate to have found a prosthetist who loves technology and
approaches each patient as a personal challenge. I worry about my fellow
amputees who are not nearly as lucky. I am hopeful that my speaking to
these groups will make an impact and motivate the prosthetists who are
on the fence about this technology to be willing to learn and to try.
Unfortunately, a complacent practitioner can handicap an amputee as much as the limb loss.