Friday, December 30, 2011

Fit for 2012

Of those that make New Year's Resolutions, experts predict that as many as 70% put losing weight at the top of their list. In addition to the traditioal benefits, amputees have extra motivation to remain fit. Prosthetic choices and socket fit are optimized when the wearer is both physically active and at a healthy weight.

Exercising with limb loss can feel both intimidating and overwhelming. For the gym novice, it is easy to become "lost" in a sea of machines. Those who were comfortable in a gym before limb loss often experience frustration and anxiety when attempting to exercise with their prosthetic.

With 2012 starting in a few days, we wanted to take this opportunity to relay a new resource designed to promote amputee fitness. OssurActive is an online workout program that has been specifically designed for the lower extremity amputee. Whether you are a novice to the gym or a casual athlete, this program can be tailored to your abilities.

The program features a series of videos demonstrating exercises for the above knee and below knee amputee. Although the videos were filmed in a gym environment, the exercises can be completed at home. Registration is required for the site, there is no fee and it can be accessed 24 hours a day from the comfort of your home!

In addition to the workout videos, OssurActive features an interactive forum where amputees can share both frustrations and triumphs. A wealth of information has been compiled to help with every level of fitness. From nutrition to strength training, this site has the answers that you need to achieve your fitness goals in 2012.

We wish you health and happiness in the upcoming year. We look forward to helping you achieve your goals in 2012. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Our Resolutions

As 2011 comes to a close, our minds are already churning with ways to make 2012 even better. Last year we resolved to connect with our patients through various social media outlets. We are active on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. We invite you to join us so that you can stay up to date on the latest developments! Simply click on the icons on the sidebar of this blog to join the conversation.

We wanted to take a moment to share two of our resolutions. We are working towards a paperless office in 2012. While we are realistic and know that we aren't going to eliminate paper altogether, we pledge to reduce our usage. Ben is spearheading this effort. When he isn't working on prosthetics he has been busy researching integrated office technologies and methods to computerize our office.

Over the next few months we will be changing some of our office procedures. Our new on-line appointment option is one of our first steps in this process! Have you tried it yet? Simply go to our website (www.opc1.com) and click the blue "schedule an appointment online" button. Enter some basic information and then pick your appointment time. You can receive confirmation via text message, phone call or email.

In 2012 we would like to continue our patient outreach programs. We recognize that our patients are more than the prosthetics that they utilize. Last year we began our monthly "AmpuTea Party" to foster peer sharing. We are exploring other programs to assist our patients, including possibly developing exercise and/ or walking groups. If you have any program ideas, please let us know!

2012 promises to be an exciting year at OPC. We look forward to watching our patients achieve their goals and dreams. Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey, and we look forward to working with you in the upcoming year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cover Shot!

As you walk into our fabrication room, you might notice the pile of component catalogs stacked on the corner desk. Unlike some facilities, our practitioners create custom devices utilizing components from a variety of manufacturers. Because we are an independent facility that is not managed by a corporation, we are only beholden to our patients. We will utilize the components that are most appropriate for our patient regardless of the manufacturer.

Among those catalogs, one is particularly special to the OPC family this year. A photograph of our patient--and Social Media Director--and her son has been selected to grace the cover for the 2012 Ossur prosthetic catalog. We are delighted that our socket design is prominently featured in the photograph!

Peggy became a patient after her amputation in 2003. Elliot, recognizing that she was limiting herself because of her own preconceived notions, pushed her to explore prosthetic technology. He introduced her to a bionic ankle, an event that changed her life.

Prosthetic components only change lives when they are fit on the appropriate patient. The practitioners at OPC make an effort to stay current with the latest technology. Continuing education is not just a professional requirement to maintain board certification, it is an expectation for those working at OPC. Because Elliot learned about the bionic Proprio ankle, he was able to fit Peggy before it was considered a mainstream device.

OPC is proud to provide individualized and state of the art devices for our patients. Our priority is pleasing the patient, not corporate managers. Congratulations Peggy on your cover shot!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Love to Ski?

The thermometer is starting to plunge, hinting at the start of another winter season. While some detest the cold temperatures and spend three long months yearning for warmer weather, there are others who relish the frigid air. If you are a snow lover and an experienced skier, we have an opportunity that may pique your interest!

OPC along with Teton Adaptive sports is proud to announce that registration is currently open for this year's Adaptive Steep & Deep Ski Camp in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This adult ski camp has become an anticipated event for experienced amputee skiers from around the country. If you feel comfortable on skis and want to hone your mountain skills, you don't want to miss this opportunity. (It should be noted that this program is not appropriate for the novice skier.)

We are excited to announce the addition of World Champion and Paralympic medalist Chris Devlin-Young to the highly experienced field of instructors. In addition to his skiing accolades, Chris accomplished the 1st unassisted sit ski descent of the infamous Corbet's Couloir. His experience and insight concerning mountain descents is an asset to the program.

If you are an advanced skier who is looking to gain big mountain experience, this program might be for you. Unlike other adapted sports programs, the Steep and Deep Camp is fully inclusive. Skiers are grouped by their skiing abilities, not by the level of disability that may be present. This year's camp will be held from February 29 - March 3, 2012.

The camp has been heralded as the experience of a lifetime for the experienced adaptive skier. If you're itching for snow so that you can hit the slopes, and you feel comfortable with your ski abilities, you don't want to pass up this opportunity. Spaces are limited so don't delay and register today.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Playing Hard!



Elliot is a former Olympic athlete. Ben is an acclaimed steeple chase runner. How do they blow off steam when they get together? They go racing!

Yesterday, the staff at OPC got together for a friendly go-cart race. The competition was high as they suited up and sat behind the wheel. It was revealed that there was a ringer in the group. Jeff, a prosthetic technician, is also an amateur race car driver who travels the mid-Atlantic circuit racing his souped=up Volvo. The fact that he came to the track with his own helmet was an indication that this was not his first time behind the competitive wheel!

Wheels started screeching when the flag dropped. Jeff, Elliot, and Philip (OPC IT consultant) immediately took control of the race. They zoomed around the winding track, touching wheels and exchanging positions throughout the race. Wanza held her own as she bumped and volleyed her way to the leaders. This blogger stayed tucked behind Liz's wheel. I can attest that she was sliding all over the track and took more than a few bumps into the barriers!

The race resulted in a photo finish. Philip was the winner, with Jeff and Elliot coming in as second and third. Ben finished a close fourth, staying on the lead lap. Wanza, Liz, myself, and JonI finished out the field.

Everyday the staff at OPC demonstrates that they work hard. Yesterday they proved that they play with just as much gusto.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mark Your Calendar

Last year the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) announced that it will not be sponsoring a national conference for 2012. In lieu of a single national event, the organization has opted to sponsor a series of local educational opportunities. The hope is that more amputees will be able to participate in local events which would require a limited time commitment.

It has recently been announced that the first event, dubbed "Limb Loss Education Day" has been scheduled for April 21 in Atlanta, Georgia. Gait analysis, various seminars and opportunities to network within the limb loss community will all be offered during this abbreviated program. If you plan on being in the Atlanta area and are interested in expanding your knowledge of prosthetic components or seek to improve your gait, you don't want to miss this opportunity!

The ACA website has promised upcoming programming throughout 2012. Rest assured that we will keep you abreast of these opportunities. At OPC we realize that our job is not limited to building prosthetics. We strive to help our patients live their life to the fullest, and power comes from information.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Want to Change The World?

Living in close proximity to Washington, DC, affords some unique opportunities for many of our patients. We have recently been contacted to assist with recruiting candidates for the 2012 White House Summer Internship program. This year an emphasis has been placed upon involving individuals with disabilities, or those who have a parent with a disability, in the program.

The White House Internship Program is a highly sought-after opportunity for young leaders around the country. Participants work within the White House on a variety of projects and programs tailored to their interests and skill set. Duties include but are not limited to conducting research, writing memos, and assisting with the planning of events.

Basic accessibility continues to be an obstacle for individuals with disabilities around the country. Whether it be securing transportation to work or being forced to enter a restaurant through the loading dock because of limited access for wheelchairs, thousands of Americans struggle because of their handicaps. This summer addressing accessibility issues has been designated as a priority program for Interns.

Research and interviews can bring only limited knowledge to the table. Many times the most compelling arguments for change come from those who have first-hand experience. If you are living with limb loss or have a family member who is an amputee and are interested in working as a White House Intern, you certainly don't want to miss this opportunity.

Applications are currently being accepted for the summer program, which runs from May 29 - August 10, 2012. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and possess a minimum of a GED equivalent diploma. If you have always been interested in being a voice for individuals with disabilities, this is your chance! Good luck, and please let us know if we can help with your application.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Because Time Matters

In this age of outsourcing, OPC proudly manufactures all of our prosthetic devices on premises. From casting and measuring the residual limb to molding and configuring the components for the final product, the prosthetic device never needs to leave our facility. The ability to manufacturer our own prosthetic devices ensures that we always produce a high quality product in a timely fashion.

Sending measurements and molds to an off-site manufacturing facility is a trend in the field of prosthetics. Assuming that shipping schedules are adhered, this adds a minimum of one week to the wait time before a device is delivered to the patient. When a patient is waiting for a prosthetic device, OPC realizes that days matter!

Because we handcraft our devices, we are able to deliver prosthetics quickly to our patients. Many times we are able to go from a test socket to a permanent prosthetic within one day. Our patients depend upon their prosthetics in every aspect of their lives, and because of this, we strive to keep their wait time to a minimum.

Our patients are more than molds and measurements. In our office people are not defined by the level of limb loss. As we craft their prosthetics, we never forget the needs of the person who will be wearing and depending upon the device. We put care into every aspect of manufacturing because we know we aren't just making a socket for an amputee: we are making a prosthetic for a person.

Personal care and quality devices are hallmarks of OPC. We are renown for our quick turn-around time, and because we are involved in every stage of prosthetic manufacturing, we are able to maintain our standard of high quality care. In one week we can manufacture comfortable and highly functional prosthetic devices. Give us a week- we can give you the prosthetic for the life you live!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

AmpuCruise

Do you want to meet other amputees? Do you love to cruise and travel to tropical locations? If you answered yes, you might be interested in the AmpuCruise. This event started as a grassroots movement after the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) announced that a national conference would not be held in 2012.

Many amputees were disappointed by the news that a conference was not going to be held. They enjoy reaching out to new amputees and connecting with established friends. In an effort to keep the camaraderie going, the concept of the AmpuCruise was born.

Traveling can feel overwhelming after a limb is lost. From navigating airport security to securing accommodations that are accessible, many amputees choose to stay home rather than counter the obstacles involved. A collaborative effort between Royal Caribbean, the ACA and Easy Access Travel has taken many of the unknown variables out of the travel equation for this event.

Mark your calendars and plan to join other amputees on Royal Caribbean Cruise Line Liberty of the Seas ship from December 3-8, 2012. This 5 day cruise departs from Fort Lauderdale Florida and travels through the Western Caribbean. Cabins are priced as low as $107/ night with a portion of each reservation benefiting the ACA. Don't delay, space is filling quickly and you don't want to miss this unique event! Visit here for more information.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Team River Runner

Living in the Washington, DC area affords residents a variety of unique recreation activities. Hiking and biking trails abound through a network of National and State parks. Kayaking and paddling opportunities are plentiful along the Potomac river.

Of course, OPC is biased towards paddling sports. Elliot Weintrob, OPC President and CPO, was a member of the 1992 US Olympic canoe team. Paddling sports are a fantastic activity to develop physical fitness as it can be easily tailored to the individual's current endurance and strength abilities. A proponent of paddling sports, Elliot professes, "10 miles outside of DC, when you're on the water, you might as well be 10,000 miles away. It's a great reality check."

Founded in 1994, Team River Runner is a non-profit organization that provides kayaking opportunities for injured active duty and retired military. Taught through the generosity of volunteers, the participant does not have to hold previous kayaking or paddling experience. All that is required is an adventurous spirit and a willingness to try.

Kayaking experiences are provided at no charge to the participant. The organization is funded through a combination of charitable donations and the sale of select merchandise. Paddling lessons are provided in a pool before the participant is transitioned to a natural setting. Supervision is provided throughout the experience.

Team River Runner conducts classes and kayaking trips across our region, including along the Potomac and Virginia Beach. If you are interested in participating or want to learn more about Team River Runner, click here.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Amputee Awareness Day!

Although the ACA has designated April to be "Limb Loss Awareness Month," we would be remiss if we failed to acknowledge that Amputee Awareness week runs from October 4-11. This week designation is recognized internationally and was created provide a global platform for limb loss issues, ranging from landmine placement and access to prosthetic devices.

This week holds historical significance for the amputee community. It was during this week in 1846 that the first patent was awarded for a prosthetic device. The patent marks what is accepted to be the beginning of the modern age of prosthetics. The actual patent was awarded on October 7 which has become recognized as Amputee Awareness Day worldwide.

We hope that you will consider honoring this day by educating peers or co-workers about living with limb loss. If your dress code permits (and only if you feel comfortable), consider wearing shorts to "Strut your Stuff." Let's bring amputee issues out of the shadows and utilize this global platform. Change occurs only after a dialog is established.

However you choose to celebrate, we are honored to be part of your journey. Happy Amputee Awareness Day!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Congratulations Libby!

We are excited to announce that our New Year, New You, New Foot (or hand) second chance competition has completed. Our participants lost an astounding total of 182 pounds since February. We are proud of their accomplishments as they have sweated and worked towards a healthier lifestyle.

Libby won our second chance competition, losing an impressive 32.5 pounds since starting her journey. She has faced health and prosthetic issues, but never let those obstacles deter her from her goal. She assembled a strong support team, including a personal trainer and nutritionist, to help keep her on track. She credits her husband for offering her both support and for keeping her motivated toward her goal.

Like many amputees, Libby's weight increased after she lost her limb. An above knee amputee, she had a difficult time adjusting and was confined to a wheelchair for much of her day. "After my amputation I gained 79 pounds from not getting any exercise. I had thought about going to a gym but never did because of people staring at my prosthetic leg. One day on the way to OPC I saw a truck with a personal training advertisement. I contacted them and decided to do it. It’s not a normal gym…it’s one on one personal training. I took seeing that advertisement as a signal to change my life."

Libby is continuing to work towards her goal of weighing below 200 lbs, and she has no plans of reverting to a sedentary lifestyle. "I have that commitment of having to be at Ultimate Results every Mon./Wed/ Friday to work out and having a scheduled consultation twice a month with the nutritionist to review my progress. I have to show my nutritionist my food journal during those meetings. Sammy (my trainer) reviews my log weekly and has been a total support for when I am down and want to stop."

Sammy joins us in congratulating Libby. "I'm really proud of Libby and what she's been able to accomplish since we started. She came in hobbling on day one and barely being able to get up off the chair without someone almost lifting her up and now she can get up on her own and walk a mile on any given day of the week. I remember telling her back then that we'd eventually be working on squats and that she'd eventually be able to get off a chair without any help and she just laughed. Now we're doing just that. I think it's sometimes hard to believe something's possible when it seems so far away but after years of doing what I do as trainer I know it is. It just takes patience, dedication, and consistency (did I mention she's never missed a workout). Keep taking those baby steps over and over and before you know it you've climbed the mountain."

We want to offer our congratulations to Libby on her accomplishment. In addition to a gift card for amazon.com, we are pleased to provide her with a consultation with a health counselor at www.healthyfuturestoday.com. We hope that this extra support will help Libby on her journey to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Research Participants Needed

We appreciate the role academia plays in the development of new technologies and advances in prosthetics. Our geographic location puts us in the vicinity of some of the country's leading biomechanic facilities. We are occasionally asked to pass along research opportunities for to our patients, and we are honored to comply.

The Neuromechanics Laboratory at the University of Maryland, located in College Park, Maryland, is actively seeking lower extremity research subjects. The study is focusing on the energy expenditures put forth by an amputee utilizing a running-specific prosthetic. If you currently use a running style prosthetic foot/leg, you may qualify for this opportunity.

Qualifying participants will be asked to run on a track at three different speeds- 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 mph for approximately 5-7 minutes at each speed. A system of cameras and reflective markers will be employed to measure the metabolic expenditures at each speed. Participants will be compensated $100 for the study, which is expected to last a total of 2 to 3 hours.

If you currently utilize a running specific prosthetic, and are willing to participate to in this important research study, please contact the researchers directly by calling (301) 405-8154 or by emailing locomotion.nml@udm.edu.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Dynamic Career

If you are reading this blog, you probably have a connection to the field of prosthetics and orthotics. While many are familiar with the services provided by practitioners at OPC, we suspect that most people have never considered the benefits of working in this field. With students returning to school and many families beginning to engage in discussions about possible career choices with their student, we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce Orthotics and Prosthetics as a career.

Currently Orthotics and Prosthetics is the only certification program that can tout 100% job placement upon completion. Employment opportunities are currently available in all 50 states and abroad for qualified individuals. The aging population combined with lifesaving advances has experts projecting the need for Orthotist and Prosthetists to increase 25% within the next 10 years. Job security is not an issue in this high demand and growing profession!

Orthotics and Prosthetics is a profession that requires compassion, creativity and technological savvy. Every patient presents with a unique set of needs and issues. The practitioner has the opportunity to devise and manufacturer a solution thus creating a positive change in that individual's life. It is often said that O&P is the only field where patients can enter the office in a wheelchair and leave walking.

O&P professionals work in a variety of settings, including but not limited to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. Prosthetists with 15 years experience earn on average $96,000 a year. For those who are interested in manufacturing devices and are not inclined to provide direct patient care, the average salary for a technician is $48,000.

Although practitioners and fitters are desperately needed in all 50 states, university and certification programs are limited. Currently there are only eleven O&P accredited Practitioner programs in the United States. Information about the individual schools offering programs can be found here.

At OPC, we are passionate about both patient care and our profession. We are eager to see our field expand to meet the growing needs of our patient population. Whether you are simply exploring your options or if you are interested in a career in O&P, we would love the opportunity to discuss this expanding and dynamic profession.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Super H 5-K Run Walk & Wheel

Are you looking for a family friendly event that supports local individuals with disabilities, including amputation? Do you want to help raise awareness and funds while having fun? Look no further! The Super H 5-K Run Walk & Wheel is just around the corner.

This annual event is the premiere fundraiser for National Rehabilitation Hospital's (NRH) Adaptive Sports Program. This program provides the opportunity for individuals with varying degrees of disabilities to reintegrate into the sports that they loved, as well as providing them with the option and the specialized tools to try new activities. Hand cycling, basketball, rugby, sled hockey and tennis are just a few of the activities provided through the Adaptive Sports Program.

It is believed that participating in sports facilitates the rehabilitation process. Whether for fun, as a tool to build self-esteem, or for competition, participating in a sport activity benefits the patient both emotionally and physically. The program at NRH provides sporting equipment and opportunities for patients of all ages with the youngest participant being six years old.

The Super H 5-K Run Walk & Wheel is a chance to contribute to this worthy community program while having fun with your family or friends. All proceeds stay in our local area. This year's event is scheduled for Sunday, September 25th at 8:00 A.M. On-site registration begins at 7:00 at Tysons Sport & Health, 8250 Greensboro Drive, McClean, VA. Information about the race including the course map and pre-registration link can be found here.

OPC is proud to support this venture! We are forming a team, and would like to invite our patients to participate. We will cover the entry registration fees for all Team OPC participants. Join us in representing OPC while raising awareness and funds for the Adaptive Sports Program. Please contact Peggy at peggy@opc1.com or call (571) 248 8812 for information on joining Team OPC.

After the race, plan on staying for refreshments, music, awards and family activities. Registration can be completed online or on race day. We hope to see you there!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pediatric Endoprosthesis Surgery

Each year in this country, 448 children receive a devastating diagnosis. They are told that they have bone cancer. In most cases, the recommended treatment involves amputation and chemotherapy. We see these young patients in our practice and are continually amazed by their ability to accept, adapt and participate in life.

A pioneering implanted prosthesis is giving hope to these children and their families. In some cases the infected bone is removed and replaced with an expandable chrome and titanium implant. This prosthetic "bone" can be adjusted with specialized magnets to accommodate for the growth of the child.

The endoprosthesis surgery is both expensive and painful, but when successful, the child emerges from bone cancer with only a scar and memories. The limb is saved, sparing the youngster from a lifetime of standard prosthetic care. Once recovered, the child is able to resume an active lifestyle by participating in sports, swimming and even horseback riding.

September marks Pediatric Cancer Awareness Month. We thought that this was an appropriate time to bring light to this exciting development. We remain optimistic that we will see a marked decrease in the number of pediatric cancer patients requiring our care.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Family Picnic

At OPC we have the privilege of being chosen to provide prosthetic care to some amazing individuals. Whereas each patient is unique, some populations encounter common obstacles. We appreciate that our patients benefit from both networking and exchanging stories and ideas. During the past few years we have been striving to provide opportunities for these imperative interactions to occur.

Friday evening OPC hosted a picnic for the families of our youngest patients. Being a child with a limb loss can pose unique obstacles, and we wanted to provide these families with a chance to meet and to talk about issues that are unique to raising a child with a prosthetic.

Several families attended the picnic with children ranging in age from 15 months to 12 years old. Activities for the kids, including a Moon Bounce and pinata, were enjoyed. A babysitter was provided to help lead the activities and to keep the children engaged so their parents were able to sit down, relax and simply talk.

Although a wide variety of topics were discussed, inevitably the conversation always led back to the unique issues involved with raising a child with a prosthetic. It was heartwarming to watch the free exchange of support, ideas and insights among the parents. Ben and Elliot were able to answer questions in a relaxed environment. (Incidentally, both enjoyed watching the prosthetics which they crafted being put through their paces as the kids ran around the yard and hopped on the Moon Bounce.)

At OPC, we realize that our patients' needs extend beyond prosthetics. We will continue to strive to provide social opportunities for our patients. Let us know if you have an activity that you would like OPC to host. We are always trying to find unique and fun opportunities for our patients.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Genium in Action

Below is a video featuring the first OPC patient to be fitted with the new Otto Bock Genium Knee. As you can see, this revolutionary knee allows the above knee amputee to walk up stairs leg over leg. The patient in this video has not received any special training on the knee and has been using the device for approximately two weeks before this video was recorded.




We are excited to provide cutting edge technology to our patients. If you think that you might benefit from this knee, please give us a call.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Genium Knee is Here!

The much anticipated Genium microprocessor knee has been released for sale the United States market. This knee stands to change the way that prosthetic knees are seen in the future. The practitioners at OPC are currently working towards certification and will begin fitting patients with this groundbreaking prosthetic knee in the coming weeks.

The Genium knee, by OttoBock, takes the C-Leg technology to the next level. This intuitive prosthetic can determine whether the wearer is standing or sitting and will adjust the position automatically. Stance is released regardless of how the device is weighted, allowing the amputee to move in a variety of directions quickly and safely.

Environmental obstacles, such as curbs and steps, can be traversed quickly by knee flexing . The wearer no longer needs to revert to hip-swing the leg around the obstacle. The Genium knee has complex built-in logic analyzers that quickly adjust the knee to the optimum position for a safe and natural gait.

Unlike many microprocessor knees, the Genium knee features a splash protector. While it cannot be submerged, the wearer doesn't have to worry should he be caught in a rainstorm while walking. This knee is also more compact, enabling amputees with various limb lengths to utilize this prosthetic. The battery charge lasts for five days so the fear of losing power has been virtually eliminated.

The most lauded attribute of this knee lies in the ability of the wearer to walk up stairs leg over leg. The additional sensors built into the prosthetic allow the knee to respond quickly when ascending stairs. This provides for a more natural, and safer, gait pattern.

This is an exciting prosthetic development and we are pleased to bring this technology to our patients! If you are interested in learning more about the Genium knee or think that this prosthetic might be for you, give us a call.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Always Ready To Help

We recognize that many amputees worry about their prosthetic failing while they are out of the area. Whether traveling for pleasure or for work, having a non-functional, uncomfortable or painful prosthetic can ruin a trip. The practitioners at OPC are dedicated to helping their patients, regardless of the miles that separate them from our office.

OPC is pleased to offer Skype conferencing for our patients. Think of it as a cyber house call. If you are out of the area but are experiencing issues with your prosthetic, we are available to troubleshoot the problem and, in many cases, we can provide stopgap remedies until you can return to the office. If we recognize an issue that cannot be remedied through Skype and you require immediate prosthetic care, we can help arrange for you to visit a prosthetic provider for a repair. If you are not able to Skype, feel free to call our office (703) 698-5007 and one of our prosthetists can try to troubleshoot the issue over the phone.

If you have access to Facebook, you have access to the practitioners at OPC! Whether you are out of the area or sitting in your living room, if you have a concern please feel free to post your question on our wall. Somebody will respond quickly and advice you on how to Linkproceed.

Prosthetic issues tend to arise at the most inopportune time. We want our patients to live happy and active lives. Unfortunately with activity can come prosthetic breakdown. Through the miles and with the help of technology, rest easy. Help is always a click or a call away!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

PLEASE Watch and Share

Individuals with Albinism face many obstacles navigating through life. They are prone to light sensitivity, poor vision and social stigmas. In some parts of the world, individuals with albinism live in fear of mutilation and, in some cases, a savage death.

Tanzanian "healers" have longed believed that the bones from Albinos hold mystical and medicinal properties. The bones are crushed and consumed to treat ailments ranging from impotence to cancer. As the use of these healers has increased, so has the demand for the items that they prescribe.

Tanzanian Albinos live in fear of being murdered because of the "medicinal value" of their bodies. Stories abound throughout the country recalling attacks on Albinos. Typically the individual is pulled from their home by bandits, and their limbs are systematically hacked off with machetes. Mutilated and bleeding profusely, the victim is left for dead.

When an attack is survived, the new amputee faces a life of hardship that is unimaginable to many. Prosthetic care is limited and, in many cases, virtually non-existent. In addition to learning to live with their new disability, the survivor continues to live in fear of another attack and suffers from the trauma of the initial assault.

The practitioners at OPC became aware of this situation and resolved to become involved. We had the honor of fitting an amazing woman with Albinism with prosthetic arms. She survived a vicious attack and lost her arms to the bandits, and now travels around the world to spread the message of the plight of her fellow countrymen.

OPC allowed television cameras to film the process of creating and fitting her new prosthetic arms. Originally airing on ABC's 20/20, we are thrilled that the show has been picked up by the OWN Network.

Please watch tonight at 9:00 on the OWN Network. Only through awareness will this ongoing atrocity come to an end.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We Support HR 1958

Important legislation is currently being debated that will have a great impact on the field of Orthotics and Prosthetics. If passed, the quality of care received by O&P patients throughout this country will be improved substantially. OPC supports this important legislation.

HR 1958- the Medicare Orthotics and Prosthetics Improvement Act of 2011, has received wide bipartisan support. This bill simply enforces existing regulations placed upon the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS is responsible for providing payment for services and prosthetic devices billed through the Medicare and Medicaid system.

A current policy exists instructing CMS to reimburse only for services and devices built by licensed or credentialed Orthotic and/or Prosthetic practitioners. This standard is habitually being ignored by the agency. HR 1958 seeks to enforce the existing guideline. If HR 1958 passes and becomes a law, reimbursement for services and devices will be provided only to practitioners who have met the necessary standards.

OPC believes in establishing a baseline standard of care by which all O&P practitioners must abide. By ignoring licensing requirements, practitioners with insufficient training are building devices and treating patients. By enforcing the licensure requirement, CMS is sending a strong message that only quality care will be reimbursed.

The passage of HR 1958 will improve care for O&P patients. By closing the licensure loophole, fraudulent billing will be reduced by an estimated $250 million over the next five years, according to an independent study.

Shelley Berkley (D-NV), a co-sponsor of this legislation, summed up HR 1958 by saying, "“Our legislation seeks to improve care for patients with orthotics and prosthetic devices and to ensure they are receiving treatment from those who are best suited to address their particular medical needs. At the same time, our bill will save money by cracking down and ending fraudulent payments through Medicare.”

We encourage contacting your local representative to voice your support for HR 1958. A contact form can be found here. Thank you for supporting this important piece of legislation.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Swim Tips

The weather is (finally) hot, and there is little doubt that we are in the midst of summer. Scores of people are seeking refuge from the scorching heat by taking a dip in their local swimming pool. While we encourage swimming, the practitioners at OPC would like to take this opportunity to remind our readers about caring for their residual limb around pools and water.

Be certain your prosthetic is waterproof before diving into the pool. Most carbon fiber constructed devices are waterproof, but those with electronic or hydraulic components are not. It is also important to note that all suspension systems are not waterproof. If you are not sure if your prosthetic is waterproof, feel free to call our office. We will be happy to let you know if you are "safe to swim" or if you need to remove your prosthetic before jumping in!

When packing your pool bag, we recommending including an extra liner. According to Elliot, "Keeping the residual limb in a wet, enclosed environment for any length of time is a recipe for disaster." After you finish swimming, remove the wet liner and allow it to dry. Thoroughly towel your limb and, if possible, allow it to remain uncovered for a few minutes. (To avoid a debilitating and potentially dangerous sunburn, it is imperative that the residual limb be protected from the direct rays of the sun.) Slip into the dry liner before donning your prosthesis.

If the residual limb is not removed from the wet liner and allowed to dry, the amputee risks developing chapped spots. The skin initially feels tight and appears red and dry. Left untreated, it may crack (risking infection) and become painful. Removing the limb from the damp environment as quickly as the activity concludes will help to minimize the risk of skin breakdown.

Should breakdown occur, we recommend increasing the use of moisturizers and keeping prosthetic wear to a minimum until the skin heals. We often recommend incorporating antibiotic ointment into the regular moisturizer to decrease the likelihood of an infection developing. Allowing the residual limb to "breathe" and rest is often the best, and quickest, remedy for chapped skin.

We would like to wish all of our patients a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Join Us.

Last Wednesday we hosted another AmpuTEA party. I'm sure that the attendees will agree that laughter, support and advice were freely exchanged. The next party has already been scheduled for July 20th at 3:00 at the OPC office in Fairfax.

The AmpuTEA is not a support group. Rather, it is a group of supportive women. Living with limb loss poses issues and situations that can often be remedied through the collaborative sharing of ideas and experiences. If you would like to meet with other amputees, we encourage you to attend. As always, cookies and tea are provided.

At OPC we strive to meet the needs of our patient population. The AmpuTEA party was created as a vehicle to provide an opportunity for patients to network and to learn from each other. We are also active on Facebook and Twitter. We invite you to join the conversation and meet other members of the OPC patient family.

We are in the process of planning a variety of informational seminars and experiences. In the past we have hosted a running clinic and a bicycling seminar. If you would like to see an activity or sport profiled, please let us know. We want to provide information about topics that interest you!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Weight Loss Lessons

Bob, a patient at OPC, was crowned the OPC Biggest Loser last week. His journey has not been easy, but through his hard work and determination he lost an astounding 20% body weight. Inspired by his success, we asked him to share some of the lessons he learned during his weight loss journey.

Bob is a left below knee amputee. He is an avid racquetball player and was beginning to experience pain with his right knee. His doctor advised him to lose weight to reduce the stress on his knee.

"Making the decision to really do something about my weight was tough. I don’t like starting something that I don’t intend to finish. But after the decision was made, the first 3-4 days were the hardest. I was on a very restrictive caloric intake of 1000 calories or less a day."

Bob fought against food obstacles presented through the course of his day in order to be successful. Devising a plan, and having a supportive family helped him achieve his goal.

"The biggest obstacles for me were wanting to eat my normal meals with my family at night and work colleagues during the day. For the time I was really dieting I would either avoid these meals or make sure there was a salad available. In addition, my wife was very supportive and would prepare meals that were very tasty and yet very low in calories. "

As any experienced dieter will attest, maintaining motivation during a diet or weight loss endeavor is the true battle.

"I bought a good digital scale that measured to .2 lbs. and weighed myself first thing every morning. I found that I was losing weight virtually every day. This is a big motivator."

When asked about the key to weight loss success, Bob was succinct.

"Just stick to your plan and don’t cheat. You’ll meet your goal that much faster. Don’t wait and don’t let injuries stop you. Diet is the key. Exercise is a bonus."

Join us in congratulating Bob on his weight loss success! Our second chance competition is in full swing and we look forward to profiling more patient successes in the future!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Welcome!

Our Facebook page has picked up quite a few new members during the past two weeks. We are thrilled that our page has become a place for our patients to network and to share ideas. Because many of the new members are not patients at OPC, we want to take this opportunity to introduce our practice.

We have been providing premium prosthetic and orthotic care in the DC, MD and VA areas for over 15 years. OPC is a family run business that still takes pride in our devices that are handcrafted in our own facility. The ability to manufacture in-house allows us to provide a quick turn around for our patients. In most cases we can cast, design, create and fit the prosthetics for our patient within one business week. Our efficiency, along with our reputation for providing quality devices, makes us a premiere destination prosthetic facility.

Our creative practitioners relish developing comfortable and functional prosthetics for patients who have been told that there was "nothing else that could be done." If you are unhappy with the prosthetic care that you have been receiving, or if you believe your are "settling," give us a call. We offer complimentary Skype consultations with our practitioners.

Thank you for joining our Facebook page, and we hope that you find the information that is offered valuable. If you live in the DC area, you may wish to attend our much talked about ampuTEA party. The next party is scheduled for tomorrow, June 22. Meet us at the OPC office in Fairfax at 3:00 to join the fun. Remember, the ampuTEA isn't a support group, just a group of supportive women! As always, cookies will be provided.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Year, New You, New Foot (or Hand) Winner!

Our New Year, New Year, New Foot (or hand) contest has officially ended. We have been overwhelmed by the efforts of our patients who participated, and everybody should be applauded for their efforts. To date, OPC patients have lost a whopping 150 pounds!

Congratulations to our winner, Bob. He shed an impressive 20% of his body weight, losing nearly 50 pounds since January. Stay tuned to a future blog where Bob will share some of his motivational insights and weight loss tips!

In an effort to encourage our patients who are continuing on their weight loss journey, we have decided to provide a "second chance" prize. A $50 gift card to amazon.com is being offered to the participant who loses the highest percentage of body weight by Labor Day.

If you have already registered for New Year, New You, New Foot (or hand) you don't need to contact us to continue your participation. The percentage lost will be calculated based upon the starting weight that was reported back in January when the contest began. If you did not register for the initial contest but would like to participate, please send me an email (peggy@opc1.com) with your starting weight, contact information and current photo.

We realize that losing weight can be a frustrating undertaking, and we are pleased to be able to offer the gift card as a motivational incentive. If you are looking for support, we invite you to visit the OPC page on Facebook where you can connect with other patients who are working towards a healthier weight.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

When Do You Need a New Socket?

We frequently hear our patients remark about the comfort of their new sockets. Changes to the limb can occur slowly, allowing the amputee to adjust with minimal awareness. In some cases it is only when a new socket is fitted that our patient realizes how uncomfortable the previous prosthetic had become!

Unfortunately, a timeline does not exist for prosthetic sockets. Unlike vehicles which require routine check-ups and maintenance, sockets and many prosthetic components require little upkeep once the device is fitted properly. Many times the amputee is unaware that they require a new socket until a painful development brings them back to our office.

You don't have to wait for the onset of pain to investigate the necessity of a new socket. Here are some helpful guidelines concerning socket fit:

1. If you are consistently depending upon at least 10 ply socks to achieve a comfortable fit, it is recommended that you return to your prosthetist to evaluate whether you require a new socket. For those amputees that utilize a seal-in liner we recommend scheduling an appointment if you are consistently wearing 8 ply.

2. As the limb changes shape or loses volume, the individual may feel as if they are "bottoming out" in the socket. The socket may feel higher around the residual limb or the rim of the socket may be causing small pinch cuts or abrasions. This is an indication that a new socket may be appropriate.

3. Fluctuations in weight often result a tight or loose socket. Generally, a new socket may be necessary for each two pant sizes that are lost or gained.

4. Changes in gait style or in walking speed often indicate socket issues. Limb changes are often naturally accommodated through variations in walking style without being deliberately addressed. If you feel that your walking is "different," it may indicate that a new socket is necessary.

5. Increased phantom limb pain, especially at night, may indicate an ill-fitting prosthetic.

If you have any questions or concerns about the fit of your socket, we encourage you to give us a call. Many times a small change can make a world of difference when it comes to prosthetic fit.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

i-LIMB

Prosthetic advancements have not been limited to lower extremity devices. Arm and hand amputees have benefited from advances in bionic and computerized limb technology during the past few years. One of the manufacturer leaders in this field is Touch Bionics.

Touch Bionics specializes in developing hand and finger prosthetics. In 2007 Touch Bionics released the world's first fully articulating hand which has revolutionized the way that upper extremity prosthetics are approached.

Prior to 2007, prosthetic hands were designed to clamp objects in one fashion. The purpose of the prosthetic was to provide a stabilizer to hold or to pick up an object so that the manipulation could occur with the sound hand. The ability to switch grip was not possible.

The i-LIMB hand touts prosthetic fingers that are capable of moving, in isolation, at each joint. The wearer is able to control the movements of the hand through myoelectric controls. Sensors are placed on the remaining limb to capture the muscle movement that is produced as the individual mimics moving their amputated hand. The signals produced are communicated through the prosthetic hand utilizing state of the art computer technology.

With practice, the wearer of the i-LIMB hand is able to vary the grasp position and pressure. The wearer of this prosthetic is not limited to one type of grasp and can manipulate items with a more natural movement. Isolating finger movements allow the individual to return to many fine motor tasks that were previously deemed impossible, such as playing a guitar and typing on a keyboard. This hand can be fit with a variety of cosmetic covers to produce the most realistic responding and looking prosthetic hand available.




The i-LIMB technology has changed the way that prosthetics are approached with upper extremity amputees. Function and form combine to create the most life-like prosthetic hand available. The practitioners at OPC are experienced working this this technology and stand ready to help upper extremity amputees reach their goals.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Vacation Travel Tips

Traveling with a prosthetic can be a daunting experience, especially for the novice traveler. However, a little preparation and some knowledge can make the experience of getting to your vacation destination easier and less stressful.

For those who are traveling by air this vacation season, be aware that TSA has increased their security screening procedures. It is recommended that the amputee passenger arrive at the airport at least 90 minutes before departure to accommodate for additional screening should it be deemed necessary. Keep in mind that TSA procedures vary by airport, but below is a list of general expectations when going through the security process.

1. Many airports, including BWI, utilize full body scanners. Being cleared through the use of this device deems additional screening, including the pat down, unnecessary.

2. If the airport does not have a full body scanner, the amputee traveler can expect a pat down and swab screening. The pat down has become more thorough in the past few months which has caused both anxiety and embarrassment for some travelers. The agent may take a piece of cloth and rub both the prosthetic and your hands for explosive residue.

3. Some airports utilize a castscope machine. This low radiation device takes an image inside the prosthetic socket (along with typical casts and braces). It is not unusual for the agent to take up to 6 images, and the process may add up to 20 minutes to your screening time.

Packing an appropriate carry-on bag can eliminate a lot of stress and potential obstacles for the amputee traveler. It is recommended that the following items be included in the carry-on bag:

1. additional socks of various ply (keep in mind that changes in altitude can cause the volume fluctuations)

2. prescription medications and over the counter pain medication

3. lotion (be sure to keep the bottle within the size restrictions allowed by TSA)

4. hand sanitizer to facilitate donning your prosthesis (again, be sure to keep the bottle small and within the one ounce limits)

5. shrinker sock

6. battery charging mechanism (for bionic prosthetics)

7. handicapped parking hang tag (so that it can utilized while at you destination)

Packing some simple amenities can make staying away from home more comfortable and accessible. You might want to consider bringing a suction cup grab bar and folding shower stool. Although most hotels provide a shower chair upon request, the requests are honored on a first come/ first serve basis and there is often no guarantee that one will be available when you check in. Being prepared with an additional liner and sleeve (if appropriate) will help stave off a panic should something malfunction while on vacation.

Taking some extra time to prepare can help thwart a vacation catastrophe. Should your prosthetic break while you are out of the area, please give us a call. We will do our best to talk you through a repair (utilizing Skype if access is available). If repairs cannot be made we will do our best to refer you to a facility that can help!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Elite Blade by Endolite


Continuing with this week's series of high activity feet, we will take a look at the Elite Blade, by Endolite. This foot is categorized for a k3-k4 amputee and is appropriate for both the weekend athlete and the gym rat.

The Elite Blade is a carbon fiber foot that is both durable and lightweight. Because of the materials used, this foot is considered water safe. From running cross country through a stream to walking through the streets of DC, this high energy foot will respond to your needs.

Unlike the Re-Flex VSP, which relies upon a side spring to produce energy return, the Elite Blade utilizes a compression heel. When fully loaded, the heel compresses creating tension within the carbon fiber. As the foot is unloaded, the response of the heel returning to its normal state produces the energy through the foot. In essence, the heel becomes the "spring" to create a responsive foot.

Shock absorption occurs through the compression of the heel upon impact. Although the Elite Blade does not provide as much impact absorption as the VSP, it has proven to be adequate for the casual athlete.

The Elite Blade can be ordered in a regular or low profile option for those with a longer residual limb. It can be fit for both the above knee and the below knee amputee. Because of its slim design it can be easily fitted with a cosmetic cover.

We have successfully fit the Elite Blade by Endolite on many of our patients. If you are active and are looking for a more responsive sport prosthesis, this foot might be for you.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Re-Flex VSP

We have been impressed with the results yielded by the contestants during our first "Biggest Loser" competition. Our patients have been working hard to shed pounds and to become more active. If an amputee is going to incorporate a high impact activity into a work-out routine on a regular basis, a specialized prosthetic may become necessary. This week we will explore two prosthetic feet that have been designed with the high impact amputee in mind.

Ossur's Re-Flex VSP foot is the sport champion in the flex foot family of products. This foot is
designed for individuals who require exceptional shock absorption and energy return. Whether running or jumping, this foot will deliver!

The superior shock absorption is the result of the pylon and side spring working in tandem. The impact is absorbed through the prosthesis utilizing a spring gap within the pylon. The specially designed pylon can vertically move up to one inch, absorbing the impact before it reaches the rest of the body. By having the prosthesis absorb the impact, the strain placed upon both the residual limb and the remaining joints is drastically reduced. A decrease in the impact stresses on the back, hip and sound side when this foot is worn have been documented.

Not only does the Re-Flex VSP absorb the impact, it provides a high level of energy return. The carbon fiber side spring compresses upon impact. When the foot is being unweighted, the spring restores to its original shape, creating a burst of energy for the wearer. Envision Tigger from Winnie the Pooh and you'll have an idea of how this spring helps maintain momentum!

This foot yields optimum results for individuals with an above knee amputation. The weight capacity (up to 365 pounds) makes this an ideal foot for both the high level athlete as well as those who are working towards a healthier lifestyle. This foot provides both the shock absorption and the energy return to make jumping and running a more comfortable experience for the wearer.

The Re-Flex VSP foot by Ossur is a great sport prosthesis. If you would like to explore prosthetic options, or have any questions about this foot, please give us a call!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Be Safe, Educate and Have Fun!

With Memorial Day right around the corner, we wanted to take the opportunity to provide some imperative warnings. According to some estimates, amputations and limb related injuries increase as much as 35% during the summer. Many of these injuries are avoidable.

The ACA (Amputee Coalition of America) estimates that 600 children are injured by lawn mowers every summer. Little feet and hands can quickly slip under the blade deck, producing catastrophic results. It is recommended that children refrain from playing in the vicinity of a moving lawn mower. If this is not feasible, please be vigilant and avoid engaging the blade until the area is clear.

Adults also risk injury their feet if they are mowing without proper footwear. Although the warm weather often makes it uncomfortable, experts recommend wearing sneakers or shoes that cover the foot entirely. Sandals simply aren't safe to wear when mowing!

Fireworks are often associated with summer celebrations. Although beautiful to watch, they pose dangers if improperly handled. Over 7,000 firework injuries were treated in emergency rooms last year. Of those injuries, almost 60% were individuals under the age of 20. Perhaps a more heartbreaking reality- 4 out of every 10 injuries attributed to fireworks was sustained by a child under the age of 15!

In order to keep celebrations safe this summer season, please read the instructions on your fireworks. They should be lit by an adult and children and spectators should view from a safe distance. For more information about firework safety, click here.

It is our hope that you will share this information with your friends and family. Knowledge of the risks translates into power. We wish you a happy and safe Memorial Day!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Ben-- Breaking Down Barriers

The practitioners at OPC pride themselves on the priority that they place on staying abreast of new technology. With the increase in the number of amputees, more emphasis has been placed on research and development than any other time in history. Today's amputee is reaping the benefits of this research through improvements to socket design as well as the development of new prosthetic components.

OPC is a cutting edge facility. Their reputation for trying new technology and for the practitioners' willingness to constantly learn is well established within the field. The devices manufactured at OPC has been setting the standard for innovative and high tech prosthetic care not only in this geographic region, but also throughout the country.

Ben, a prosthetist at OPC, is set to make prosthetic history in the Washington DC area. In the coming days he will be fitting the first patient through the DC Veterans Administration with the Helix3D Hip Joint System.

The Helix3D Hip Joint System, by Otto Bock, is designed for individuals with a hip disarticulation (amputation of the leg at the hip joint) as well as those with a hemipelvectomy (amputation of the entire leg and part of the pelvis). This revolutionary hip joint system provides the patient with increased stability and safety while allowing for a wide range of activities.

The system produces a 3-dimensional hip movement that promotes a more natural gait pattern and symmetry through the compensation for diminished pelvic rotation. Wearers of the Helix system report higher energy return and higher levels of functioning. From walking to sitting, the amputee is safer, more functional and more comfortable.

The hip joint is designed to be paired with the C-Leg. This combination provides the ability for the individual to walk with an equal stride length, reducing the strain on the sound side limb. If you would like to learn more about this innovative new system, click here.

Join us in wishing Ben success with this groundbreaking fitting. The Helix3D Hip Joint System is set to change the way prosthetics are viewed for individuals with hip disarticulations and hemipelvectomy. As always, we are committed to bringing these innovations to our patients.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Weight Loss Issues

With the first New Year, New You, New Foot (or hand) coming to a close in two weeks, we wanted to take this opportunity to provide an update. We would like to congratulate Robert C. who is currently leading with an astounding 19% weight loss! All of the contestants have been losing weight and inspiring others through their efforts. We are proud to be a part of their journeys.

Losing weight as an amputee can result in prosthetic obstacles. As the pounds are shed, the residual limb becomes smaller, and socket fit can often become an issue. This can be particularly frustrating as the amputee struggles with a socket that is too large while trying to work-out and become more active.

Don't become discouraged if you experience socket issues in the midst of your weight loss endeavors. It is important to remember the ultimate goal is losing weight and becoming healthier. Socks can be donned and pads can be placed into the socket to augment the shrinking limb until the limb size stabilizes. If you are having problems wearing your prosthetic or it is not comfortable when you are exercising, please give us a call. We are here to help!

In addition to the need for new sockets, prosthetic components may need to be replaced if a large amount of weight is shed. Prosthetic components are designed to work within certain weight ranges. If the amputee's weight falls into a different weight category, the component may not respond as designed. If you have lost a large amount of weight (in excess of 30 pounds is a good guide) and you feel as if your prosthetic is not as responsive, you might require components from a lower weight category.

Although it can feel frustrating dealing with changes in both socket size and prosthetic components, the pay-off of losing weight and becoming healthier are worth the hassles. Amputees who are leaner have healthier residual limbs. They experience less skin breakdown and have fewer bone spurs. In addition to the health benefits, an amputee within the "normal" weight range has more options when it comes to choosing prosthetic components.

We are proud of the weight loss success of all of our patients participating in our New Year, New You, New Foot (or hand) competition. Losing weight and becoming healthier requires dedication, and we applaud you all. If you are experiencing prosthetic or socket issues as you shed pounds, please give us a call. We are here to help and we want you to reach your goals!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Meet Libby

Being chosen to provide prosthetic care is a privilege. Everyday, we strive to provide the best care for our patients. Every person who comes through our doors has a story behind his limb loss and a list of goals. Our job is to build prosthetics to help them move forward and to achieve their dreams.

Libby is relatively new to the OPC patient family. She became an amputee in 2006 when her knee replacement surgery resulted in blood clots and complications. She was rendered an above knee amputee after an artery was nicked during a revision surgery.

In an effort to regain her mobility and to get out of her wheelchair, Libby embraced using prosthetics. She sought care at a facility that was recommended by her physical therapist.


Unfortunately, Libby's first experience with prosthetics was not favorable.

"After several meetings I finally had my first leg. Very intimidating. As I was currently doing physical therapy I was able to work with the physical therapists to learn how to walk first with a walker, then crutches and then a cane. With this leg I found that I was falling all of the time. When you step on the toe it triggered the knee to bend and I just couldn't get the hang of it without falling constantly."

Between the mechanics of her prosthetic knee and the uncomfortable socket, Libby found her spirit quickly deflating. She was frustrated both with her progress and with the constant setbacks she was experiencing.

"I made a lot of trips to my prosthetist but never could seem to get a good fit. It irritated my residual limb a lot. I found when I would lose some weight it wouldn't fit. I would slide around in the socket. I had the lanyard system and the leg wouldn't completely fall off but it was very uncomfortable. I was told last year, 2010, that there was nothing that could be done"

Unwilling to accept the prosthetist's warning that nothing could be improved, Libby refused to settle. Her friends and family urged her to seek care elsewhere. After a series of failed attempts by prosthetists to manufacture a device that was both functional and comfortable, Libby received a referral to OPC.

"I made an appointment with Elliot Weintrob and let me tell you....it was like night and day. Elliot took the time to talk to me and let me explain what I had gone through. He told me to take my prosthetic leg off so he could see what I had. He immediately said, "That is a train wreck."

After casting for a new socket and changing the suspension system, Libby's new C-Leg was ready within days. "I have not had any falls which is in itself awesome. I truly love my C-Leg. I have also learned so much from Elliot and Ben as they take the time to explain things to me that were never explained in the past."

Libby is slowly adapting to living with an amputation and is returning to activities that she enjoyed before her limb loss. She attributes her success, in part, to her prosthetic. She is becoming physically active and is determined to lose the pounds she gained during the five years of immobility that followed her amputation.

"Because of Elliot and Ben and the gang at OPC I have decided to take my life back. I started with a Personal Trainer and a diet to lose the weight I have gained since my amputation. Last week I started walking 3 times around my office building to get my stamina back. I feel truly blessed to have found OPC and I have to say I am happier than I have been in the past 5 yrs."

Libby has an infectious laugh and exudes positive energy. We are honored that she allowed the practitioners at OPC to provide prosthetic care. We are looking forward to watching her achieve her goals in the coming years.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Odds and Ends

Our first ampuTEA party was a success. The intimate setting allowed fellow patients to meet, to share stories and to laugh. Real life experiences as well as tips and suggestions were freely exchanged. Our "party goers" decided to meet again and scheduled the next ampuTEA party for May 25th at 3:00. We invite you to attend.

It is important to remember that the ampuTEA party is not a support group. It is a supportive group of amputees who would like to foster friendships, to learn from others and to share their experiences. Simply put, the ampuTEA party is an opportunity for amputee women to meet, talk and have a good time. As always, tea and cookies will be provided.

On May 19th we are hosting our first Proprio Day. If you are a below knee amputee who is interested in experiencing bionic technology, this event might be for you. We will have a Proprio foot available for patient trial. Please contact our office to determine if you are a candidate and to schedule your Proprio appointment. Slots are filling up quickly. If you have ever been curious about how a computerized ankle might improve your prosthetic experience, you don't want to miss this opportunity.

Tomorrow we will be announcing the current standings in our Biggest Loser competition. Our weight loss warriors have been working hard and shedding a huge number of pounds. Check the blog tomorrow (and be prepared to be inspired by their accomplishments).

At OPC we are striving to meet the needs of our patients. If you would like to suggest an activity or seminar that you think would benefit our patients, please let us know. You can contact me directly at Peggy@opc1.com or comment on this blog. We want to know how we can help you achieve your goals!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Truly Bionic Leg


The prosthetics being developed today bare little resemblance to those that were being fitted 10 years ago. Advances in computer technology, miniaturization and lightweight materials has made today's prosthetic an intelligent and responsive device. The dream of developing a prosthetic that truly replaces the limb appears to be within reach.

Ossur Prosthetics has just introduced the world's first completely bionic leg. This groundbreaking prosthetic merges the microprocessor technology of the Rheo knee with the functioning of the Proprio foot. For the first time, above knee amputees will be able to experience both movement of both lost joints.

Utilizing artificial intelligence to provide real-life reaction within the knee and the ankle, this fully integrated leg provides the amputee with increased realism when walking. In essence, the computers "think" through each step, allowing the amputee to simply walk. Walking with this integrated prosthetic leg provides the most realistic experience to date for the above knee amputee!

The combination of the ankle and knee joints into a single prosthetic leg will help to eliminate the strain the above knee amputee places upon their sound side limb. Trials have demonstrated that wearers of this device have a more normalized gait pattern and weight distribution.

The combined Rheo/Proprio prosthetic is slated for release towards the end of this year. We are excited about this emerging technology and will stay abreast of all developments. We will keep you posted through this blog as this device becomes commercially available and ready to be fitted. Rest assured, when this prosthetic is released OPC will be trained and ready!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

An AmpuTEA Party Invitation

We are excited to offer a new support option specifically designed for our female patients. Support groups abound in our community, however, the AmpuTEA party is exclusive to OPC!

An AmpuTEA party is an informal gathering between women. There is no agenda and no formality. Simply put, we are facilitating the opportunity for friendships to develop and for amputees to help each other.

Sometimes gender specific issues arise concerning living with a prosthetic. Whether sharing ideas and tips for adapting shoes to discussing components, or simply talking about our families and current events, we hope to keep the conversations at the AmpuTEA party natural and honest.

The AmpuTEA party is not a support group. It will not be led by a trained therapist. Instead, we are providing this forum as an opportunity for experienced amputees to reach out and to lend support to those who are new to living with limb loss.

Whether you are new to living with limb loss or you have been an amputee since birth, we cordially invite you to join us. If you're looking for camaraderie and an informal opportunity to meet with other amputee women, let us schedule an AmpuTEA. Simply call our office (703) 698 5007 or email Peggy@opc1.com and ask to schedule an AmpuTEA party. Cookies and tea are, of course, provided!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sweat Sweat Sweat

The rising temperatures have been a wonderful change after the long winter. Unfortunately, warm weather poses a unique problem for the amputee. We have found this to be a nearly universal issue among amputees, yet many remain shy about discussing the problem.

Whether exercising or simply because of the increased temperatures, sweat can pull up within the suspension liner. It is not unusual for the individual to have to remove the liner and pour out the excess sweat before continuing with an activity. If the sweat is not removed, both the suspension system and the health of the limb are compromised.

We recommend spraying the residual limb with antiperspirant spray. In our experience Certain-Dri and Secret Platinum have proven to be the most effective against combating the problem. For optimum protection, it is advised to thoroughly spray the limb with two complete applications. Allowing the spray to dry will increase the amount of protection against sweating within the liner.

When spraying the residual limb, it is important to spray the entire area that is covered by the liner and prosthetic. If one small spot is not covered the sweat will funnel through. It is also advantageous to allow the antiperspirant spray to thoroughly dry after each application before donning the liner.

When the entire body is sweating, below knee amputees are prone to having the sweat roll down the thigh and into the liner. In this case, the cause of the puddle within the liner is not from the limb but from the leg above the treated area. It may be helpful to place a fabric headband at the location where the top of the liner meets the thigh. The headband will absorb the perspiration and keep the liquid from pooling within the liner.

Have you found any remedies for avoiding a sweaty residual limb? We'd love to know what you do!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Summer Shoes

If the warmth of the last few days is any indication, it feels like summer is approaching quickly. Soon, we will be trading long sleeves and jeans for t-shirts and shorts. With a roll of Velcro and a little ingenuity, your prosthetic can be summer ready as well!

Sandals, including those without straps at the heel, can be quickly adapted for the amputee using these simple steps.

1. Clean your foot shell thoroughly. We recommend using fingernail polish remover to remove the dirt and grease that builds up over time. If your foot shell has never been cleaned before, the initial cleaning could take some time.

2. Apply self-adhesive Velcro (the hook side) to the bottom of the foot shell. Be sure to use a large strip in order to ensure a tight grip to the shoe. Applying the loop side to the bottom of the foot shell could contribute to more slipping when walking without shoes.

3. Stick the loop side of the Velcro to the inside of the desired sandals/ shoes. Allow the adhesive to rest before slipping the prosthetic into the sandal. Press the shoe firmly onto prosthetic and test for security.

4. If you want to wear sandals with a toe thong, simply cut a slit in your foot shell between the desired toes.

Although we do our best to match prosthetic sizes with the existing shoe size, sometimes variations cannot be avoided. If you require two different size shoes, you might want to consider purchasing shoes on the internet or at Nordstroms. Nordstroms, along with several online stores, will split the shoe pairs, allowing the amputee to purchase two separate shoe sizes.

Before Velcro, lower extremity amputees were limited when selecting footwear. Shoes required a strap to secure it onto the prosthesis and many sandals were inaccessible for the amputee. Now that you know how to secure a sandal to your prosthetic, it's time to go find those summer shoes !

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Proprio Day!

Are you a below knee amputee? Have you been intrigued or curious about bionic prosthetics? If you answered yes, mark your calendars for May 19.

We are proud to sponsor "Proprio Day" at OPC. We invite all area amputees who are interested in learning about bionic technology and how it might work to improve their lives to make an appointment for a hands-on experience. We will have the Proprio foot available for interested amputees to take a "test walk" around the office and parking lot.

Despite our best efforts through this blog to fully explain what bionic technology can do for the amputee, we realize that we are limited to words. In order to fully grasp the scope of this technology, the individual needs to experience it first hand. We are thrilled to be able to provide this unique opportunity to the amputees of Northern Virginia, Maryland and DC.

We have cleared our calendar for Thursday, May 19, to provide amputees the opportunity to try the Proprio foot. During the trial fitting our prosthetists will be able to answer your questions about the appropriateness of this technology, and, perhaps more important than talking about the device, it will be fitted onto your existing socket so that you can walk and experience the computer technology. Please call our office to schedule your Proprio trial.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Endolite Elite VT



If you are looking for a foot that you can wear walking in the office, playing a friendly game of tennis and going for a leisurely jog with your dog, the Endolite EliteVT might be for you. This foot allows the "weekend warrior" the ability to participate in their activities without constantly changing prosthetics. This foot was designed to go from work to the gym!

The Endolite Elite VT is a moderate to high impact activity foot. The shock absorption provided through the spring mechanism minimizes the sheer forces felt on the residual limb during high impact activities. The foot is responsive to the movements and needs of the wearer.

The heel and toe are isolated mechanisms, allowing each to respond to the individual forces. When the heel compresses, the toe remains unaffected until the pressures are transferred during ambulation. This provides for a more normal gait pattern while eliminating the strains placed upon the sound side.

Although designed for high impact energy absorption, the Elite VT provides for some degree of rotation through the coil mechanism. The coil provides a slight give that will accommodate for lateral movements. This foot was not designed to provide the amount of rotation as the Re-Flex Rotate, but it will accommodate for rotation that occurs during many activities.

Watch a video highlighting the features of this foot by clicking here.
The Endolite Elite VT is one of many prosthetic options. Whatever your goals, OPC can design a prosthesis. If you bring the desire, we will find a way to help you succeed!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Re-Flex Rotate

As the weather warms, thoughts start to turn towards outdoor activities, but many activities that monopolize springtime require twisting. Golf, baseball and even working in the yard require some degree of rotation from the ankle in order to achieve optimum performance. Unfortunately, most prosthetics do not provide the ability to rotate so the movement takes place within the socket or from the knee and hip joint. All of those movements can lead to pain and injury.

Several prosthetic manufacturers have cued into the need for rotation. In today's and Thursday's blog we will explore two different prosthetics that have been developed to provide for rotation.

The Re-Flex Rotate by Ossur is a high performance prosthetic foot that provides both vertical and rotational shock absorption. This component provides high energy return while absorbing many of the pressures placed upon the residual limb. This foot can be fit for a below-knee and above-knee amputee (depending upon the knee system being utilized).

The rotational shock absorption is ideal for individuals who frequently move side to side or twist during activities. Since the Re-Flex Rotate provides some rotation, the strain is lessened on the remaining joints and within the socket. Wearers of this foot appreciate the titanium coil that is incorporated into the design as the coil absorbs much of the vertical impact (from walking, stomping etc) so that the body does not have to compensate.


The Re-Flex Rotate is a good prosthetic foot designed for moderate to high impact users. Although the prosthetic has been redesigned, OPC is experienced fitting working with this foot. If you frequently participate in activities that require twisting, or if you think that you could benefit from this prosthetic, give us a call.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Limb Loss Awareness Month

This weekend marks the halfway mark through Limb Loss Awareness Month. This designation is important to provide a platform to address amputee issues and to educate the lay population about the rising numbers of amputees.

The media coverage of amputees is often limited to those who have received combat injuries. In reality, most amputations are the result of vascular disease and diabetes. As the baby boomer population is aging, experts predict that the numbers of amputees will continue to rise. We encourage you to visit 507aday.org to learn more about the increasing number of amputees.

Despite the increasing number of amputees in this country, the new amputee is often wrought with fear and anxiety. If you are a new amputee (less than 2 years) you might be interested in this scholarship opportunity. The ACA has started a scholarship program to cover expenses for the new amputee to travel to the National Conference this June. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet other amputees, to share ideas and to learn about technology. Hurry, the applications are due by April 15th.

We encourage all of our patients to support Limb Loss Awareness Month by spreading the message that life continues after an amputation. Perhaps you can speak with a class at a local school or meet with a Scout Troop. Children are fascinated by prosthetics, and exposure to the field at an early age may lead to future innovators in the field! You can find resources, hand-outs and helpful information to aid with a presentation here.

OPC staff has been busy promoting "Strut Your Stuff Day" on April 30th. If you are interested in showing your support and are on Facebook, feel free to write on the Wall and describe how you plan on strutting!

We are flirting with the idea of hosting an event/picnic for April 30th for "Strut Your Stuff Day." If you would be interested in attending an event at OPC on April 30th, please send me an email (peggy@opc1.com). We would like to gauge the interest level.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Passes and Discounts

At OPC, we strive to provide our patients with the tools that they need to achieve their personal best. Whether it be running a marathon or being able to run to the grocery store after a long day at work, we are confident in our ability to craft the correct prosthetic for the job.

The ultimate goal for our patients is to minimize the effect of the disability on their daily life. In reality, all amputees have a "bad day" where they are sidelined by pain, sores or prosthetic issues. With spring finally in full bloom and people coming out of hibernation, we wanted to take this opportunity to convey a few courtesies that are afforded to individuals living with a disability (including limb loss) within our local community.

Flying can be an exercise in frustration. Between long lines at the ticket counter to the snaking line to get cleared through TSA, travelers spend a lot of time waiting. Many major airports, including BWI and Dulles, have become more responsive to the needs of passengers with disabilities by creating special lines for TSA. The lines are reserved for individuals with disabilities and their travel companions and for passengers traveling with small children.

Having an amputation is a qualifier if you are flying on Southwest Airlines. Because seats are not assigned, passengers are grouped by number for boarding. A stampede often ensues, especially on a sold out plane, as passengers vie for a better spot in line. Those at the back of the line are often stuck in the worst seats.

As soon as you reach the gate, immediately locate a Southwest employee to request the "blue card." This designation permits pre-boarding access for the travel party. This courtesy provides the opportunity to pick the best seats possible to accommodate the prosthetic, avoiding the back of the plane or the cramped middle seat.

At many major theme parks, amputees qualify for preferential access for rides. Check with customer service as soon as you enter the park to gain the proper identification. Avoiding the 90 minute wait in the herd of hot, grumpy and sometimes odoriferous visitors is a definite advantage!

Some local theme parks and zoos offer reduced admission prices for disabled patrons. For example, Six Flags parks offer half price admission for those with disabilities. Check on-line or at the ticket counter to investigate discount admission options.

If you enjoy visiting national parks, including Sky Line Drive, it may be advantageous to complete the application for an access pass. Disabled individuals, including active amputees, qualify for the "America the Beautiful Access Pass" which allows for free entrance into every national park. Discounts are also available for various park amenities. Check here for more details.

Traveling using the Metro or train system? Discounted fares are offered for individuals with disabilities. Check with the ticket agent to learn about the specific discounts for the trip.

Have you found other courtesies offered to individuals with disabilities? Feel free to leave a comment to share your discoveries!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Strut Your Stuff on Facebook.

Planning to "Strut Your Stuff" on April 30th? RSVP on Facebook and write on the wall to let everybody know how you plan to spend the day strutting!