I never went to physical therapy after my amputation. I requested PT but was summarily denied by my insurance carrier. I was never provided with an explanation and, to be completely honest, I was too mentally and physically exhausted at that point to fight.
Everything I learned about walking on my prosthetic I figured out through trial and error and with the assistance of my prosthetist. I
made a lot of mistakes, and my learning curve could have been lessened
greatly had I been working under the supervision of a good physical
therapist. If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I definitely
would have filed an appeal and fought for the service. A lot of bad
habits were developed due to my improvising!
My first experience with a physical therapist came at the
Amputee Coalition Conference in 2008. I attended a mobility workshop
taught by Physical Therapist extraordinaire Bob Gailey.
I spent three hours shuffling and moving in a hotel ballroom along with
a few hundred other amputees, all with various levels of limb loss and
experience. By the time the clinic was over, I was sweaty and exhausted. I
also knew that my life was forever changed because of the experience.
a few short hours Bob was able to dissect walking with a prosthetic
into easy to understand and apply steps. My gait was normalized, my
stride length was equal, and I was more confident in my abilities. I had
been an amputee for five years at this point and thought I was doing a
good job walking. During that clinic my "good walking" was molded into
"darn near perfect."
Last year I had the privilege of
attending a running clinic hosted by Ossur and Challenged Athletes
Foundation and taught by Bob Gailey. Before the clinic I had tried
running. In fact, my first deliberate attempt resulted in my falling and
breaking my wrist. To say I was a cautious participant would be an
I decided to trust Bob and his teaching process. By the end of the
morning I was running. I wasn't fast, nor was I particularly pretty to
watch, but I was no longer afraid, and for me that felt like winning a
I was flabbergasted and honored when I received an email several
weeks ago inviting me to speak at the running clinic in Philadelphia.
The clinic is being held on May 19th and more information can be found
here. I can't guarantee the quality of my speech, but I can attest to the metamorphosis that takes place to participants
during this event. Amputees of all athletic abilities and experiences
are welcome to attend. Hope to see you there! (On a side note, it will
also be my birthday and I'd love to get together for a cupcake after the