Preparing For a Hike – Mountain Climbing – Life As An Amputee

Preparing For a Hike – Mountain Climbing – Life As An Amputee

For my hike in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the top of the Nyiragongo Volcano, it didn’t take too much preparation because I’d already been hiking a lot in Mount Kilimanjaro and other places. But one of the biggest considerations I always have is my knees. So, I had knee surgery several times and what that means is that my prosthetic is meant to make sure that it’s not putting a lot of pressure on those incision marks but it still does just because the nature of hiking requires you to have a lot of mobility and flexibility in your knees.  Continue reading “Preparing For a Hike – Mountain Climbing – Life As An Amputee”

How to Talk to Kids About Limb Loss

My Little Pony Pediatric Prosthetics

If you’re the parent of a child with limb loss, the prospect of sending your child to school, camp, or daycare can be overwhelming. We don’t have to tell you what it can be like out there, and no doubt you remember trials when you were in school. Things haven’t changed. The fact is, kids can be cruel, even to children without apparent differences. However, they can also be incredibly compassionate and protective.

How will your child cope with being on their own in a new environment? How will other students, and even their teachers react? How can you protect them from the teasing and insensitive comments you know will most likely come their way? The good news is you are not alone. Many parents have faced the same challenges. (Read this parent’s experience in a previous blog post.)  There are very effective steps you can take to smooth the transition and help ensure your child has a positive school experience.

Continue reading “How to Talk to Kids About Limb Loss”

The Breakthrough Bionic Arm for Upper Limb Amputees

In development for nearly a decade, the revolutionary Luke Arm will soon be available. Designed and produced by Segway creator Dean Kamen’s company, DEKA, and funded through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Next Step has partnered in the critical fit and testing since the beginning of the project.  Approved by the FDA in 2014, the Luke Arm represents Life Under Kinetic Evolution.

Bionic ArmWhat sets the Luke Arm apart? Simply put, its intuitive integration into the user’s body movements. The human arm and hand with its opposable thumb and five independently articulated fingers, is incredibly complex and capable. The prosthesis uses electrodes placed on the amputated limb (above the elbow or below the elbow) to pick up electrical signals from the user’s muscles. Compared to the typical prosthesis controlled by switches or buttons, or even controlled manually, the Luke Arm is capable of extremely fine as well as flexible movements. What does it feel like for an amputee to be able to reach over their head to pluck an apple from a tree or pick up a heavy piece of equipment, or delicately peel a banana? Now it will be possible for amputees to experience these and many more life experiences that they haven’t been able to since losing their limb.

Kamen’s group even tackled the key reason amputees don’t wear their prosthetic limb – comfort. Unlike the traditional connection method that relies on the greatest possible surface area contact between flesh and the prosthetic arm (causing friction, heat, and pain), Randy Alley, C.P. from Biodesigns, Inc.  in Westlake Village, California, along with assistance from Next Step, developed a socket that was made for the Luke Arm called the Hi Fidelity Interface, this socket is also adaptable to traditional prostheses. Continue reading “The Breakthrough Bionic Arm for Upper Limb Amputees”

Maintaining Your Prosthesis in Spring Rain, Sleet, and Mud

wet weatherIf you have a prosthetic limb, you know the challenges that come with daily wear under the best of circumstances. With the advent of spring, though, you and your prosthesis will be faced with weather of every sort – rain, snow and sleet, and, everyone’s favorite — the ever-present mud. What precautions should you take? Maintaining your prosthesis to ensure both you and your prosthetic limb will weather the weather is very doable. Whether or not you have a waterproof prosthesis, you don’t have to (nor should you) stay indoors; conquer whatever spring throws at you with a few simple steps:

Prosthetic socks are your best friend. Take good care of them, so they can take good care of you. Be aware of changes in limb volume due to weather conditions or exercise and be prepared to compensate (this blog post on summer activities provides additional tips). If your sock becomes soiled, excessively wet, or muddy don’t wait to change it and clean the socket.  Continue reading “Maintaining Your Prosthesis in Spring Rain, Sleet, and Mud”

2017 Spring and Summer Events for Veterans

Spring is finally here with summer not far behind.

adaptive golf cartWhether you are a veteran looking for a new job challenge, a chance to celebrate, or fun in the sun with fellow vets, we’ve compiled some our favorite veterans events for the warm, sunny months ahead.

Job Searching?

Get in front of employers with these veteran job fairs.

Continue reading “2017 Spring and Summer Events for Veterans”

Spring Sports for Amputees

veteran amputee golfWho isn’t psyched for longer days, warmer temperatures, and the chance to get back out there and enjoy our favorite spring sports and activities? It’s also a great way to connect with other athletes and enjoy the camaraderie of taking on challenges together. If you’re ready to explore something new or are a more recent amputee ready to get active, you probably have some questions about your options, what you’ll need, and where you can go to find the resources and programs that are just right for you. To help, we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite resources with the information and sports activities guaranteed to help get athletes at any level back on the field.

Disabled Sports USA has valuable information on many diverse sports – both the popular and a little off the beaten path (Boccia anyone?). This is a great place to start with questions on what to expect and what preparation/equipment you will need. Be sure to check out adaptive sport locations here.

Adaptive Sports New England is dedicated to encouraging more participation in sports among youth and those with visual or mobility challenges. Here you’ll find a regional calendar with events ranging from basketball to archery. Want to get inspired? Check out this page of New England athletes who competed for Team USA in the 2016 Paralympics. Continue reading “Spring Sports for Amputees”

Veteran Marine On Why He Chose Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics

I chose Next Step as my prosthetics provider after receiving a list of options that I have in the area. Setting up appointments, coming into the clinics, meeting the staff, and really trying to figure out the best option for me as far as my prosthetics. I knew this was going to be a long road and that this is not a decision that I should be making lightly. Fortunately, I picked Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics, which has been the best thing I’ve done for my medical needs since I’ve gotten home by far. Continue reading “Veteran Marine On Why He Chose Next Step Bionics & Prosthetics”

How I Trained For Paralympic Sprinting – Muji Karim

My training schedule leading up to the paralympic trials was really intense. I was on the track five days a week and did many different variations of sprints. My sprints were all based around speed, endurance and technique.

In order to prepare I did double of every workout I was supposed to be doing. If I was supposed to do 8, I would do 16 an if others did 5, I would do 10. This is because I know a lot of guys who I was competing against have had 5, 10 even 20 years in these in these prosthetics. For me to get where I wanted to be, when I wanted to be there, I needed to do much more. Continue reading “How I Trained For Paralympic Sprinting – Muji Karim”

Diving With One Leg – Amputee Diving

When I was in college, I started studying history and by my end of my freshman year, I narrowed my focus more in conservation and environmental science. As I made the transition into environmental science, I also began a minor in organismic and evolutionary biology as a secondary field.

I took a course on in invertebrate biology with two wonderful professors at Harvard and the course included a trip to Panama. We went during spring break and I did a lot of reed biology research and snorkeling. On the last day of our trip, we were scheduled to go diving. I’ve never dove before and I was really excited and also a little nervous. However, I went to the class and did a diving exploration and I got hooked. Continue reading “Diving With One Leg – Amputee Diving”