Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Triple Amputee to Run Washington Marathon

A British paratrooper who lost both legs and an arm fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, will defy his injuries to take part in Marine Corp Marathon in Washington next Sunday.

Lance Corporal Tom Neathway will run 26.2 miles through the streets of Washington on his prosthetic legs. The 26-year-old, along with four other troopers, will raise cash for the Parachute Regiment's own charity to help injured troops. Neathway, a member of 2 Para, was hurt when a roadside IED exploded in July 2008. The soldier has since done five tandem parachute jumps, but rates the marathon as his greatest challenge.

(sourced from

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Echelon Foot

The Proprio Foot is not the only prosthetic ankle that features plantar and dorsi flexion. The Echelon Foot, by Endolite also lifts the toe during swing phase. The foot is designed for the active amputee but is able to withstand the impact from occasional recreational activity.

The Echelon Foot utilizes a self-contained hydraulic system to move the ankle. A series of springs works to lift the toe during swing phase, affording increased safety and a more natural gait.

The self-alignment feature of the ankle allows the wearer to walk up and down ramps and inclines without adjusting their gait. The toe and heel are independent components allowing for increased stability while walking on various surfaces.

Since there is no need for a battery pack the wearer never has to worry about the ankle losing its charge or not working because of low power. The ankle can be cosmetically covered without affecting function.

Click here to learn more about the Echelon Foot by Endolite. The practitioners at OPC have had over 20 successful Echelon fittings. If you think that this ankle might be for you, talk with your prosthetist.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Hands On Approach

Having a prosthetist who happens to be a former Olympian definitely has its benefits. Elliot and the staff at OPC understand the importance that sports can play in an individual's life whether the aspiration is recreational or professional.

The staff at OPC goes above and beyond simply creating prosthetics. On any given day, barring heavy snow or rain, chances are you'll see either Ben or Elliot outside with a patient. Helping amputees learning to run or to ride a bike is nothing unusual in the parking lot at OPC.

Patient care goes beyond manufacturing devices, many times it involves hands on instruction and support. This holistic approach towards the amputee is yet another reason that OPC is unique. This video aired on CNBC and features OPC patient Patrick Gaffney receiving instruction and support from Elliot as he returns to jogging after his above knee amputation.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Proprio Foot

The purpose behind this blog is multi-faceted. First, we want to provide our patients with information about special events at OPC. Second, we have the honor of working with some extraordinary patients, so we hope to use this blog to share their stories. Finally, we will be profiling prosthetic technology and components by reviewing both the positive and negative features of the highlighted product.

The first in our series is the Proprio Foot, a microprocessor foot/ankle system for the BK amputee. In addition to picking up the toe during swing phase, the Proprio has the ability to automatically adjust itself for walking up and down ramps and inclines. Instead of walking on the toe of the prosthetic and powering up the ramp, which is often the norm for the lower extremity amputee, the Proprio wearer can walk with a flat foot on the hill with an undisturbed gait.

Benefits also can be reaped when ascending and descending stairs. Once the stairs are detected by the device, the foot will lift a predetermined number of degrees to provide more toe clearance. When the amputee is descending stairs, the Proprio adjusts to allow the full prosthetic foot to be placed on the step, increasing safety.

Changing shoes and switching between heel heights is simplified with the Proprio's heel height adjustment feature. The feature adjusts the ankle to accommodate heels of 1.5 inches with the simple push of two buttons. This user-friendly feature is one of the unique benefits of this foot system.

The foot is one of the heaviest foot/ankle systems available, weighing in at 2.75 pounds. Because it is a microprocessor system, the ankle is not appropriate for all environments and cannot be worn during high impact activities. The battery pack, typically mounted in the rear of the socket, needs to be charged nightly. The movement of the ankle limits options concerning cosmetic covers.

The Proprio Foot is just one of many prosthetic options available for the BK amputee. Ask us about its appropriateness for you and learn more about this foot at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Who Is This Blogger?

I realized that I have been remiss in introducing myself. My name is Peggy, and I am a patient at OPC. I have been a below knee amputee for over seven years. Right now I am a full time stay-at-home Mommy with aspirations of being a writer.

I have been writing and maintaining my own blog, and website, for the last 18 months. Elliot has been following my blog and, when he decided to create blog for OPC, he asked if I would be willing to help. He provides me with content, and I write and maintain the posts.

My personal story began in Ocean City Maryland on March 11, 1998, at a conference. A vendor was pushing a computer on a cart. Unfortunately, the cart became stuck on the floor board. Brute force was applied to the cart, causing it to lurch forward. The computer monitor became dislodged and fell with edge landing directly on the top of my foot.

Pain persisted long past the prescribed healing period. I had a nerve stimulator implanted in my leg. The electrodes were put on the nerves in my ankle, and wires were burrowed up my leg to a battery pack embedded in my thigh. I had a remote control to work the device. I was quite bionic!

On July 3, 2003, after enduring more than 20 surgeries, I had my left foot amputated. This was, without doubt, the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. Upon reflection, it was the best choice I could have made.

I met with Elliot approximately eight weeks after my amputation. I remember sitting in the back room with my husband, Scott. We were both nervous because we didn't know what to expect. I could not have anticipated what happened next.

Elliot asked me to unwrap my limb so that he could examine it. Scott immediately jumped up and began to remove the compression bandages. Elliot stopped him and told me that I needed to do it myself.

I resisted, explaining that I didn't feel "comfortable" removing the bandages and looking at the my stump. Elliot was kind, but insisted that I needed to do it myself and that I should be careful about becoming dependent upon Scott. Scott sat down and I unwrapped my leg.

I was angry, but I also knew that Elliot was right. I needed to learn to deal with my own limb. I was an amputee, and I needed to face that reality. That moment was my first step towards healing.

The physical recovery was difficult, but not nearly as painful as the emotional recovery. I underestimated the emotional ramifications of an amputation and went through a spell of depression. It took a year, and more tears than I can count, to realize that I was the same person as I had been previously, but now without my foot. My foot didn't define me, just as my amputation doesn't define me now.

The care I received at OPC has been integral to my recovery. I have lost over 100 pounds and I have more energy than I did when I was in my 20's. It is comforting know that when a prosthetic problem arises, help is only a phone call away. I feel like I am more than a patient. At OPC, it feels like I am a member of a team that works collectively to provide me with a prosthetic to help me live to my potential.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bartlett Tendon Universal Knee

Many times the best prosthetic innovations are the brainchild of a frustrated amputee. Scott Bartlett, an above knee amputee from Seattle Washington, became frustrated when trying to return to a sport that he loved. An avid bike racer, he knew that the prosthetic knees available would now allow him to transfer weight through his prosthetic into the pedal. His power output was dependent upon his sound side.

Scott wanted something better. After years of trial and error, the Bartlett Tendon Universal Knee was developed. This innovation allows the above knee amputee to put power back into the bike through the prosthetic. The Bartlett Tendon also allows the amputee to both stand on the pedals during climbs as well as during a full sprint. For the above knee cyclist, these activities were nearly impossible to perform with standard sport knees on the market.

OPC has had successful fittings with the Bartlett Tendon, and the device was demonstrated at the recent Open House. If you are an above knee amputee with a desire to return to cycling, ask about the Bartlett Tendon. It may be the perfect solution for you!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Elliot, along with a specially selected patient, has accepted an invitation to try the new PowerFoot by IWalk. In the coming days the pair will travel to Boston to meet with company representatives and to "test walk" this exciting new technology.

The PowerFoot by IWalk is the world's only powered prosthetic foot. It is coming to market soon, but is not yet available. The PowerFoot has been compared to the Proprio Foot by Ossur, but there are some important distinctions.

Ossur's Proprio foot is a microprocessor foot. The ankle moves into plantar flexion and dorsal flexion when the foot is in swing phase. In order words, the ankle automatically picks up the toe whenever the foot is being swung forward. The ankle automatically adjusts to the correct angle when the wearer is going up and down ramps and inclines. It is important to consider that the ankle joint on the Proprio foot moves only when it is completely unloaded.

Unlike the Proprio Foot, the PowerFoot by IWalk helps to propel the wearer forward, especially up stairs and ramps. This ankle system provides the dorsal and plantar flexion in swing phase, but unlike the Proprio it can move when fully loaded. The foot provides a burst of energy to help the user maintain forward momentum and ambulate up and down stairs and inclines while minimizing fatigue.

Information on the PowerFoot is minimal because it is not yet on the market. Thankfully we know Elliot who has been given the rare opportunity to see this new technology first hand. Stay tuned for more information!

Monday, October 11, 2010


At OPC this week a young patient's life will be transformed. Prosthetic technology is expanding at a furious pace. Rest assured that the staff at OPC is on top of new developments! This week, Ben (a prosthetist at OPC) is getting ready to fit a partial finger amputee with a revolutionary new product- the X-Finger.

The X-Finger is a fully articulated prosthetic finger. These custom made devices are self-contained and allow for full flexion and extension of the fingers. In layman's terms, the finger mimics natural movement at the knuckle joints. With time the wearer learns to bend and extend the prosthetic fingers to complete a variety of tasks, including typing!

Best wishes as the new X-Fingers are fitted! Stay tuned for updates and more patient success stories.

Friday, October 8, 2010

In Case You Missed It.

In addition to serving the needs of amputees in the DC area, the staff at OPC has a global impact. Elliot has traveled around the world to offer his services to amputees in need. For those people who would never receive care or prosthetic devices without the donation of his time and resources, he is nothing short of a hero.

In August, cameras from 20/20 accompanied a special woman from Tanzania as she met with Elliot. There is a believe in Tanzania that the bones from an Albino contain mystical powers. As a result of this belief, a bounty was placed upon her limbs. She was savagely bludgeoned and lost both of her arms in the attack.

Desperate for help so that she could care for her young family, she was offered a new life through OPC. Materials and talents were donated so that she could be fitted with new prosthetic arms. She traveled across the earth to visit OPC-- and to think, many of us complain about the traffic on I-95 as we travel to our appointments!

We will be writing more about this important issue in the future. In case you missed the story from 20/20, here is the link. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy World Smile Day! Hope this little smiley worked for you!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Here to Help

Are you a lower extremity amputee who is interested in learning how to run? Maybe you are an above knee amputee who is eager to get back up on your bicycle? Perhaps you are an upper extremity amputee who is anxious to begin swimming again. Regardless of your sport fitness goal, the staff at OPC is here to help.

Elliot and his talented staff work tirelessly to custom design prosthetics so that their patients can achieve personal fitness goals. Whether you are a world class athlete or a stay-at-home Mom wanting to jog a 5k, OPC will work to help you achieve your dream. This dedication to helping the amputee participate in sport activities is not limited merely to manufacturing devices.

Last week an above-knee cycling clinic was held during the Open House. In the past, OPC has also been the host to successful running clinics. We are constantly striving to meet the needs of our patients, and one of our commitments is to provide opportunities to learn and participate in fitness events.

More clinics are being planned for the future, but we need your help. Have you been anxious about participating in an activity since you lost your limb? What sport clinics would you like to see hosted by OPC? The combination of encouragement, technology and education offered by the staff at OPC can help you achieve goals you never imagined possible.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Welcome to OPC News

Welcome to OPC News. This blog has been created as a platform for sharing events, information and resources to the friends and patients of Orthotic Prosthetic Center. We are also going to highlight the patient success stories that are achieved every day at the center.

In case you missed the event, OPC had its Fall Open House last Tuesday, September 28th. Eighty patients, family and friends gathered to learn about new technology, to share camaraderie and to participate in the above knee cycling clinic. Click here to view snapshots from the event!