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I am a below knee amputee. More importantly, I am also Mommy to two boys, a very active 10 year old (Robby) and an mischievous toddler (Timmy). I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Bionic Barriers

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!

I was 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.

Every 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 groups.

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.

I consider 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.

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