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”

Summer Camps for Kids with Disabilities

amputee kids summer campIt may be only March when the snow and cold temperatures make fun in the sun seem far away, but registrations are already flowing into area summer camps. If you are a parent of an amputee child, you may have never even considered sending your child to camp. You (naturally) worry about a new environment, new acquaintances, and new challenges away from home. Did you know there special summer camps and summer programs for amputee kids? In addition to exclusive camps for kids with disabilities, there are organizations that provide day or weekend programs and activities, as well as special learning experiences. These camps and organizations do an incredible job of providing inclusive activities for children of all abilities.

We’ve compiled a list of some of the best in New England. Don’t forget the sunscreen! Continue reading “Summer Camps for Kids with Disabilities”

Baby Steps – Raising an Amputee Child

raising- amputee childCongratulations! You are the parent of a uniquely gifted and beautiful child. The years ahead are guaranteed to be full of love, joy, worry, frustration, and uncertainty as you navigate this journey of life together.  If your child also happens to be one with a limb difference, either an amputee child or a child with birth defect limb loss, the path forward may look especially difficult. (If you are an expectant parent of a child with limb loss, see this recent blog post on Expecting an Amputee Child.) Continue reading “Baby Steps – Raising an Amputee Child”

Ten Fingers, Five Toes on the Ultrasound – Expecting an Amputee Child

Expecting Amputee ChildViewing the ultrasound of your unborn child is a momentous event, mixed with equal parts anxiety and excitement. The scan makes you wonder, “Is everything ok?” “Is it a girl or a boy?” “Will s/he have my nose?”

What happens when the ultrasound technician pulls back, retreats to find your doctor, and eventually shares that your child has a birth defect such as a missing limb or congenital amputation?

Continue reading “Ten Fingers, Five Toes on the Ultrasound – Expecting an Amputee Child”

A Message from Abby: Follow Your Dreams!

Abigail Ripley is an active nine-year-old who loves cheerleading, skiing, and playing soccer. She loves spending time with her parents Thomas and Rachel, and her brother Cole. Last fall, she started playing the violin. Abby explains, “I had heard that violins were really fun to play and I really like the sounds they can make!”

amputee child violin player

One of the things that makes Abby special, besides her amazing spirit, is that she plays the violin using a prosthesis made specifically for this activity. Despite a congenital defect where her left hand did not form completely beyond the wrist, Abby has always pursued her dreams. Continue reading “A Message from Abby: Follow Your Dreams!”

Children’s Prosthetic Designs 2015

Next Step takes great pride in making a measurable difference in the lives of young amputees. It is especially rewarding to help a child navigate the prosthetic journey and choose a prosthesis that makes them smile.

Popular Designs

As they grow and discover the world, children also develop distinct tastes for the latest cartoons, characters, and sports teams. These kids keep us up to date on current trends by the designs they choose for their prosthetic arms and legs. Some of our “Next Step Kids” even tap into their own active imaginations. No matter what they choose, our pediatric prosthetic designs are up to the challenge! Continue reading “Children’s Prosthetic Designs 2015”

Summer Camps for Amputee Kids

Summer is a great time for children with limb loss to meet and socialize with other kids of similar abilities. Summer camps and adaptive programs also give kids an opportunity to try new sports and activities in an environment specially designed just for them.

Here are some options to consider this summer and for future planning:

Camp No Limits not only provides adaptive summer camps for children with limb loss, they also focus on education, mentorship, and support for the whole family. They are nationwide with 10 locations: Maine, Missouri, Connecticut, Maryland, Florida, Idaho, California, Arizona, and Texas. They offer a daily schedule of activities within four programs: Education & Therapy, Sports & Recreation, Creative Arts & Music, and Evening Programs.

Adventure Amputee Summer Camp is held in Bryson City, North Carolina. Their mission is “to encourage children with amputations or limb differences to stretch their potential and imagination, and explore all that is possible.”

Continue reading “Summer Camps for Amputee Kids”

The Next Generation of Prosthetics Engineers are Here!

‘Next Step Kid’ Carter WOWs at Invention Convention.

“The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.” ― Elbert Hubbard

We are amazed by our clients every day – it’s one of the biggest motivators to get us to the office each Monday morning. From watching a toddler take their first steps in our office, to witnessing the joy of a teenager ride their skateboard for the first time in years, to seeing a veteran who never thought he’d walk again fly down a mountain on skis, we are privileged to be included in these life-changing moments.

But every once in a while, we’re really wowed by something different. And we just have to share it with the world. This month, we experienced one of those ‘wow’ moments.
Carter has been a ‘Next Step Kid’ (a term coined by some of our youngest clients, who have become friends and supporters of each other) since a few months after his birth. As you can see from our Facebook page, he is a very active kid, and has made incredible progress in his very young life. This month, his school hosted an Invention Convention for students, and Carter decided to tackle the next level of prosthetic limb advancements for his invention.

As Carter uses a prosthesis for both one arm and leg, he is well-versed in the workings of prosthetic limbs, and in their limitations. For example, his prosthetics require the use muscles in the residual limbs to perform simple tasks such as walking or picking up an item. Since he is so active, he fully understands the level of complexity required to focus on working a mechanical arm while playing sports. He is also incredibly curious, and unafraid to ask questions of the prosthetics and physicians he sees regularly, to learn how and why prosthetics work as they do, and how he can perform better with them.

All of this led Carter to invent a ‘Talk and Grab’ arm for the Invention Convention. The idea was to create a prosthetic arm that would be voice-controlled, and allow people with very limited mobility the full use of their arms. Carter understood that it takes a mobile person to use a prosthesis, and he wanted to help those who are not as mobile achieve the same level of activity that he enjoys.

To ensure that his idea had merit, Carter then setup a meeting with his Next Step prosthetist Scott Cummings to discuss the feasibility of his design and narrow down the scope. As an 8 year old, his ideas became very grand so his parents and Scott wanted to help him focus on one idea and one action of the prosthesis. Scott helped Carter realize that voice activation wasn’t enough, and that the arm would need to be able to see the object it was reaching for.

With minimal help Carter created the prosthetic arm with voice activation and optical sensor. His idea was that the sensor would shine a light on an object and the prosthesis would know where to grab the object targeting by the light. He took it further and said that for an upgrade he wanted to add telescoping capability so that the claw hand could reach out further for objects out of his reach.

His family (and the entire Next Step team) are very proud of Carter for thinking of others facing disabilities. He shows us every day that there isn’t anything he can’t do!


Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Child's Limb Loss Journey


Our Greatest Defense Against Bullying

For National Bullying Awareness Month, by KelliAnn Mead

Originally posted October 31, 2013. 

mom and son

Since the birth of my youngest son, I have discovered that bullying does not discriminate.  Anyone can bully or be bullied.  By definition, bullying is “the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others.  The behavior can be habitual and involve an imbalance of social or physical power.”  A bully isn’t just a larger child who corners somebody on the playground to get candy.  A bully can stare at another person a little too long.  A bully can be someone who speaks insensitively.  A bully may not even realize the impact of his or her actions. Continue reading “Our Greatest Defense Against Bullying”