Amputee Support Groups prove mutually beneficial for both the amputee and the prosthetist.
Unless affected by an ailment at birth or ongoing health issues, no one anticipates having to experience a prosthetic limb. Dealing with unexpected limb loss is often traumatic. But with a positive attitude and a fantastic care team, one can thrive with the help of the right prosthesis.
Armed with a desire to help the less fortunate in her community, and a lifelong love for animals, Christie Rogero’s employment with a not-for-profit spay/neuter clinic proved the perfect fit for her. Finding her niche allowed Christie a coveted daily interaction with cats and dogs, while granting her the privilege of providing pet health care to those in her community who were unable to afford the expense of essential veterinary services. For Christie, life was going well.
Pedestrian Struck on Sidewalk at 4th and Arch in Philadelphia
In April 2008, however, while walking the short distance between her employer’s office and a nearby animal shelter, tragedy struck. Christie was hit by an automobile that was pushed by another car onto the pedestrian sidewalk where she was walking. The result was severe damage to both of her legs.
After almost a year of rehabilitation, Christie’s right leg was again strong and functional, albeit painful to use. It was clear to Christie’s doctors, however, that the condition of her left leg was such that she would never be able to fully use it to walk. Faced with living life on crutches and/or in a wheelchair, Christie was presented with the option of amputating her left leg, and being fitted with a lower extremity prosthesis. A prosthesis, she was advised, would most closely return her to the life and level of physical activity that she enjoyed prior to her accident.
“Where Do I Go From Here?”
In an effort to better understand both the challenges and possibilities of living with a prosthetic limb, Christie joined a support group for amputees at the rehabilitation hospital where she had been in physical therapy. At this support group, Christie met Cortney Oswald, a certified prosthetist with Prosthetic Orthotic Solutions International, or simply POSI. Cortney regularly participates with a variety of amputee support groups in the greater Philadelphia area, and her involvement with these groups has proven a mutually beneficial arrangement for both the amputee and the prosthetist. For the amputee, having an experienced and knowledgeable prosthetist with which to communicate has proven an indispensable resource not only for the affected individual, but also for family and friends of the amputee. For Cortney, the insights gained from her candid conversations with amputees has enabled her to become a more effective prosthetist.
After encountering Cortney at her support group, Christie came away impressed by Cortney’s winsome combination of compassion for the amputee coupled with her knowledge of prosthetics. Anxious to learn more, Christie came to POSI to consult one-on-one with Cortney. At POSI, Christie was welcomed with a genuine kindness and understanding by all the POSI staff that she encountered. She recalls that she was given all the time that she needed to have her concerns and questions about prosthetics addressed, and was never made to feel hurried or pressured. She felt as if she was Cortney’s only priority.
Christie knew that she needed to be able to walk in order to continue the work that she loved. This awareness, paired with the peace of mind she derived from her consultations with doctors, therapists, other amputees, and Cortney, made Christie’s ultimate decision to amputate her left leg the obvious choice for her. In March 2009, almost a full year after her accident, Christie’s left leg was amputated.
As soon as was possible following her surgery, Christie resumed physical therapy, and was fitted by Cortney with her first prosthesis. As is common among new amputees, Christie experienced pain in the first one to two months of walking on her new prosthesis, as her leg progressed through the post-surgery healing process. As the weeks passed, though, with the residual pain at her surgical site subsiding and her strength increasing, Christie found that she acclimated well to her prosthetic limb.
Lower Extremity Prosthesis Proves Less Difficult Than Injury
Today, Christie is able with her prosthetic leg to do the things and live the life that she enjoyed prior to her accident, including her work with a mobile veterinary clinic. Interestingly, the only physical limitations that she experiences currently are the result of her non-amputated right leg. The accident caused bone breaks in her right leg, and while the leg healed adequately, it can still be stiff and painful to move. In the course of her work, Christie’s right leg restrains her from running as fast as she could in pursuit of wayward cats and dogs, and limits her in handling large or strong canine breeds.
Christie notes that whenever she has been presented with tasks that are challenging for her to accomplish because of having a lower extremity prosthesis, POSI has consistently modified or updated her devices to accommodate her needs. For example, when Christie was having difficulty kneeling to work in her garden, POSI was able to add a rotator to her prosthesis that allowed her artificial foot to move, thus making it possible to kneel.
Looking back on the life changing events of 2008 and 2009, Christie feels that she has accepted life with a prosthetic limb as well as could be expected of anyone faced with a traumatic injury, and the subsequent reality of living with the loss of a limb. She concedes that she still has moments of shock when she looks down and sees either metal or nothing in the place where her leg should be. However now, almost seven years since her amputation surgery, she has a positive attitude about it all. Christie has found that exuding a sense of acceptance and normalcy regarding her prosthetic has opened doors to allow friends and strangers alike to not only feel comfortable around her, but to also ask questions about her experience of living with an artificial limb.
Through it all, Christie is delighted that POSI has been a reliable constant for her. She states that the POSI team creates an easy-going, friendly atmosphere while demonstrating the professionalism, knowledge, and skill that drew her to POSI in the beginning. The result is that office visits to POSI are fun rather than a chore. “POSI puts the client at ease while instilling confidence in their ability to provide the best of care.” Christie admits to being a bit of a cheerleader for POSI, in that she confesses to giving her unsolicited opinion and recommendation of POSI to any amputee that she encounters.
Life After Limb Loss
Despite the hardships created by the sudden trauma of her accident, Christie Rogero has faced her challenges head-on, and in the end, has excelled. She is proof that a full and productive life can be had following the loss of a limb. Christie today is thankful for the life that she has, and is grateful for her caring POSI family that continues to make it possible to do the things that she loves.
POSI is proud to provide our patients with a list of area and interest-specific amputee support groups. If you or a loved one is facing an amputation, please contact POSI today for a consulation! Courtney, or any of the knowledgeable staff here at Prosthetic Solutions, would be happy to help you through the decision-making process and hook you up with a support group in your area.