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 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 ( 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!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Strut Your Stuff

The number of amputations within this country is skyrocketing. The ACA website states that 507 individuals receive an amputation every day in the United States. All predictors indicate that those numbers will continue to rise in the coming years.

April has been designated as "Limb Loss Awareness Month." A main purpose behind the designation is to provide an opportunity to educate society about the amputees quietly living in the community. It is hopeful that conversations about the needs of the amputee population will be sparked as disability specific issues are investigated and discussed throughout the month.

After careful consideration, we are launching "Strut Your Stuff Day" on Saturday, April 30. On this date, we are encouraging our amputee friends to forgo their cosmetic covers. Wearing shorts and showing your prosthetic with pride will be one of the best ways to bring the amputee community out of the shadows.

With awareness and education come an increased interest in research, innovations in technology and more acceptance. Our strength for affecting changes lies with our numbers. For those of you who feel comfortable, stand with pride on "National Strut Your Stuff Day." Let's start a movement!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Meet Megan

Every patient finds his own path to OPC. For Megan, her journey to our facility began while watching ReBuilt on the Discovery Health Channel. After seeing Elliot and the staff working for their patients, she looked at her mom and said, "If I end up losing my leg, this is where I want to go.”

Already struggling with severe leg issues and infections, she credits the television show for providing the reassurance that she was seeking. "Watching the staff interact with patients and seeing how committed they are helped me realize that if it came down to amputation, I would be OK."

Megan did not take the decision to amputate her right leg lightly.

I lost my right leg above the knee on Sept. 10, 2007, after a 3 year battle with recurrent knee infections that destroyed my joint completely. The decision to amputate was mine. I did my research, created a list of PROs and CONs about amputation, talked with every member of my family individually about it, and then talked to my surgeons. Everyone agreed that my reasons were good ones.

Although her journey has not been smooth and her recovery has been wrought with infections and setbacks, Megan has never lost her focus. Her amputation has not interfered with her working towards achieving her goals and dreams.

I'm 27 and trying to finish school between all of my hospitalizations! I've done some freelance writing and have sold some of my black and white photography. I've also done some peer mentoring of new amputees through the hospital where I am treated.

My biggest accomplishment would have to be as a speaker for Kicking For Kids Who Can't in 2009. I gave a speech on the National Mall in DC sharing my personal story of how I'd lost my leg and providing some hope for other amputees and the parents of children with limb loss.

Megan believes in giving back to the amputee community. She is often called to mentor new amputees at her local hospital and is on-line.

My best advice to new amputees is to allow themselves to feel all of the emotions that come with amputation and not try to feel invincible. There will be some bad days and you have to let yourself have them and afterward you pick yourself back up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward. I've learned to live with my limb loss by attacking it all with humor including creating amputee T-shirts and by connecting with others who have lost limbs.

Amputation is not the end of the world. It changes certain things, but it's entirely up to you whether it's a change for the better or not. Positivity and a sense of humor go a very long way!

Megan is an extraordinary young lady and we are proud that she has chosen OPC to provide her prosthetic care. Her outlook, perseverance and resolve exemplifies courage and grace.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Casting Call!!

Do you love the hit NBC show The Biggest Loser? Have you dreamed of taking advantage of this life changing opportunity? The show is actively seeking a motivated amputee who has the desire and motivation to lose at least 100 pounds. Contact our office for information on how to apply. Hurry, the deadline is approaching. Who knows, you could be the next Biggest Loser!