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!