The Super Bowl wasn’t the only great football contest happening in Minnesota last week. The Wounded Warrior Amputee Football Team (WWAFT) took on some former Minnesota Vikings for a little game of flag football at Concordia University on Wednesday. It was all to benefit veterans’ organizations including the WWAFT and a number of other initiatives which serve disabled veterans. We caught up with Brandon Korona, WWAFT player, Army veteran, and Next Step client, to get the inside scoop.
How did you become a member of the Wounded Warrior Team?
Actually, I played my first game last year in honor of Veteran’s Day.
If you’re a veteran transitioning to life after the military, it can be difficult to find the right opportunity and fit, especially one that puts your experience and skills to their best use. Perhaps you’ve looked at the work you did before the military, but it just doesn’t hold the appeal it once did, or you aren’t quite ready to commit to an employer after years of having your life structured for you. Many positions can’t mirror the unique blend of discipline and autonomy, not to mention the strong mission focus, that comes with military service. So, how do you find that “perfect” opportunity that gives you flexibility, autonomy, and a path forward that you define?
Who will be on the front line of prosthetic-related care in the years ahead? We recently caught up with prosthetist Arthur Graham, Branch Manager and Clinical Manager of our Newton, Massachusetts office. Arthur has been teaching in the area of assistive technology, prosthetics and orthotics) as part of the six-year DPT (Doctorate in Physical Therapy) program at Northeastern for fourteen years. We talked about patient care, the connection between physical therapy and prosthetics in holistic care for prosthetic clients and how the future looks for individuals interested in these disciplines.
On Veteran’s Day and every day, I am thankful for your service and all you represent, not just as the President of Next Step, but as the proud son of a Navy veteran.
In fact, the military has had a profound impact on my life and our mission at Next Step. After serving twenty years, my dad retired from the Navy as a master chief. He had enlisted as a young man, searching for something meaningful after the loss of both his parents. What he found was a culture and people that modeled sacrifice, integrity, and the commitment to being part of a mission much larger than he was – one where he could make a difference. As he often told me, “the Navy saved my life.” After he retired, the invaluable experience and training he had gained through his service opened up a successful second career opportunity with Sanders Associates (now part of BAE), a defense contractor. As his son, I grew up knowing one thing – if I did nothing else, I wanted to find a way to thank the military for saving my Dad and giving me my strong family and home. Continue reading “A Personal “Thank You” to Our Veterans”→
Navigating the healthcare system can be complicated, especially if you are a veteran. I’m sure you’ve heard the local and national coverage of the challenges the Veterans’ Administration (VA) has in providing the level of service you’ve earned on behalf of a grateful nation. If you’re an amputee veteran, those challenges can be especially difficult as you navigate the complex system for the prosthetic equipment and support you need to reclaim your best possible life.
Something we’ve learned at Next Step and through our involvement with NH organizations such as Veterans Count, is that our veterans need integrated and responsive healthcare support. To accomplish that outcome, awareness on the part of lawmakers and providers is key. Our goal is to serve as a resource and information bridge for amputee veterans and the lawmakers entrusted with oversight of military medical care. As an NH-based company, we’ve been fortunate to be able to leverage the national spotlight of our first-in-the-nation primaries to inform our future executive and legislative leaders on the challenges of healthcare and veterans’ benefits. We also have worked with our amputee veterans in understanding and exercising their full range of benefits and coverage through the VA. We know there is much more work to do, and we are committed to being part of the solution. Continue reading “Supporting Amputee Veterans Through Policy and Education”→
Ah, summer. It’s 86 degrees out, the sun is strong, and your thoughts naturally turn to cooling off in cool, refreshing water. Maybe it’s jumping off a diving board or the back of a boat, or simply lazing in the pool. When you are an amputee, though, you have questions about your prosthesis. Can it get wet? Will it get damaged if you just dive in? Is any of this covered by your warranty? And, what can you do if wearing your prosthesis is not an option? How will you swim, waterski, and dive without it? Is there such a thing as a prosthetic leg for swimming? ‘
The good news is that you have options. Let’s start with the basics.
While you can provide some minimal water protection for your prosthetic limb by using a cover, it cannot waterproof it. Moreover, if you do get water into your prosthetic device, it can cause rust and damage to the working components and the resulting damage will most likely not be covered by your warranty. There are waterproof prosthetic limbs available, however, these are normally viewed as non-essential, they are often not covered by insurance. A great example of a completely waterproof prosthetic knee is the Ottobock X3, for above knee amputees, which can be submerged and used in nearly any water-based activity. To determine whether your insurance will cover a specialized prosthesis like this, consult your prosthetics provider.
There are water-resistant prosthetic limbs that can protect from minimal water exposure (such as walking through a puddle or a rainstorm), but they fall short of withstanding water immersion, and water damage can still void your warranty. We advise caution here, especially if you are looking for a watersport solution.
There is another alternative to using your prosthesis for swimming or water sports and that’s leaving it at home. In fact, many amputees find that with some modifications, they can plunge right back into water sports such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, diving, swimming, and boating.
The prospect of adapting to a sport without a limb might be intimidating, especially for those of you with more recent limb loss, but you would be amazed at what you can do with time, practice, and a few adjustments. It’s also an opportunity to just take a break from prosthetic wear and management.
Don’t let concerns about the “how” keep you from enjoying the joys of water in the summer. We’re happy to talk with youabout how you can get back out there.
Imagine a state-of-the-art prosthetic limb designed to quickly integrate with your own body, a limb that could give you the capability to grasp a small paintbrush or a pair of chopsticks. Now imagine that limb with a traditional prosthetic socket interface, one that uses friction and pressure to secure it, compromising its function and comfort. This was the problem faced by the developers of the LUKE (Life Under Kinetic Evolution) Arm. The LUKE arm needed an interface as elegant as its design. That’s where we came in.
Approved by the FDA in 2014 and in development for nearly a decade, the revolutionary Luke Arm was designed by Segway creator Dean Kamen and his company, DEKA. While the device’s intuitive nature and ability to execute extremely fine and flexible movements is groundbreaking, the challenge of human integration presented its own unique challenges. Traditional socket designs act more as a “cup” to hold the limb allowing the bone and surrounding tissue to move inside it. The result of this “disconnect” is the loss of skeletal integrity with much-wasted motion, not to mention the discomfort caused by constant friction. How would the LUKE interface replicate the skeletal motion and nearly seamless extension needed to work this highly advanced prosthetic device? Continue reading “How We Developed the LUKE Arm Interface”→
If you have a prosthesis, you know the time and care taken in ensuring the socket is exactly the right size and dimension and integrates seamlessly with your residual limb. The fitting of your prosthesis is especially demanding from a technical and anatomical perspective. Consequently, no two are the same; your prosthetic limb is as unique as you are, part of a unique and complex human-device equation.