Thursday, December 1, 2011

Double amputee battles triathlon and wins silver

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By Ian Williams, NBC News Correspondent

BEIJING – The first time I met Andre Kajlich he was dodging Beijing traffic – in a racing wheelchair.

"Oh yeah, it was good out there," he told me, a huge smile on his face. "You should have seen the look I got from the bus driver."

Kajlich had traveled from his Seattle home to the Chinese capital to take part in the world championship of one of the world's most demanding sports – the paratriathlon. And taking his wheelchair for a spin on the highway was just one of his ways of tuning up.

Kajlich is a double amputee. When he lost his legs in a subway accident eight years ago, doctors doubted he would ever walk again – even with prosthetics. But he was determined to prove them wrong.

"No matter what, I was going to do everything I could do," he said. And entering the grueling world of the triathlon is just his latest challenge, winning a place in the Beijing contest after just one year in the sport.

"It gives you perspective on what you are capable of, really of what everybody's capable of," he told me. "You can choose what you want to do, and once you make up your mind you are going to get there no matter what it takes."

Inspiring others
It's an inspirational message he's been taking to other young American amputees. He and his sister Bianca, an actress, are counselors at the annual Paddy Rosebach youth camp, a summer gathering for 10- to 17-year-old amputees, which was held this year in Clarksville, Ohio.

"I try to get them to look at their goals and to focus on those and to make up their minds, make the same choices I did, that you are going to get there no matter what, and try to put the other stuff aside."

And he told me that he in turn had found the young amputees a huge inspiration as he prepared for Beijing.

The triathlon took place around (and in) the Ming Tombs Reservoir at the foot of the mountains that rise to the north of Beijing. It had been the triathlon venue during the 2008 Olympics.

For more of the story Click here

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

TEDxOrangeCoast - Amy Purdy - Living Beyond Limits

Here is a patient of ours Amy Purdy, who speaks on using life boundries as a springboard to enhancing life for yourself and others. That limitations are only limited by your imagination. Watch and gain inspiration from someone who lives, breathes and leads by example.

Bernabe Duran

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our World: 'Pushed to the brink of what our bodies can be pushed to'

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI // Buy this photo

It's a chilly Friday night in Bonita Springs. The bleachers overflow with fans as the stadium lights kick on and eleven softball players jog into right field to warm up. These men have been through hell. They've braved bombs and bullets and shrapnel and rockets and fire. And now they are on a mission: to show that life goes on after war. Outfielder Daniel "Doc" Jacobs, pictured above, 26, flops onto his back to stretch. Jacobs, a U.S. Marine who lives in San Diego, lost his left leg below the knee after being struck by an Improved Explosive Device (IED) during a routine patrol in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq in February of 2006.

It’s a chilly Friday night in Bonita Springs. The bleachers overflow with fans as the stadium lights kick on and eleven softball players jog into right field to warm up. These men have been through hell. They’ve braved bombs and bullets and shrapnel and rockets and fire. And now they are on a mission: to show that life goes on after war.

Outfielder Daniel “Doc” Jacobs, pictured above, 26, flops onto his back to stretch. Jacobs, a U.S. Marine who lives in San Diego, lost his left leg below the knee after being struck by an Improved Explosive Device (IED) during a routine patrol in the Sunni Triangle in Iraq in February of 2006.

After two years in rehab, Jacobs has returned to full duty. Part of his job includes traveling around the country with the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, a collection of U.S. Army and Marine Corps veterans who have lost limbs post 9/11 while serving their country. The team averages two games a month against police departments and fire departments across the United States. On this night they play the Bonita Springs Fire Department.

Every member of the team has a story. Second baseman Tim Horton, 27, of San Antonio, served two years and eight months with the U.S. Marine Corps, with a full year of that service spent in the hospital after and IED struck his humvee, spraying his body with shrapnel, breaking his wrist, both elbows and taking his left leg below the knee. Horton said after 50 surgeries, he’s stopped counting. What he and his teammates can count on is his athletic ability, which he demonstrated by back-pedaling into center field and a diving catch to end the first inning.

Head Coach David Van Sleet also works for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, specializing in prosthetics. Van Sleet says he put the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team together last spring after marveling at the scope of athletic talent returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with severe injuries.

“After they were injured, they didn’t know if they were going to live,” Van Sleet said. “They didn’t know if they were going to walk again. They didn’t know if they were going to play sports again.”

After much brainstorming, Van Sleet put a national call out to VA hospitals, military bases and other organizations that might point him towards the best veteran amputee athletic talent in the country. Hundreds answered the call. Twenty made the cut.

One of the chosen few was Sgt. Randall Rugg, a 34-year-old native of Monroe, La. who now plays catcher. Rugg served with the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to January of 2004. His unit was ambushed on March 22, 2003 in Iraq. Rugg survived five rocket-propelled grenades hitting his vehicle. Like so many of his teammates, he lost his left leg below the knee.

Rugg says his transition to civilian life was difficult. There was no camaraderie. The two jobs he landed upon returning were fraught with office backstabbing. It was every man for himself, Rugg said. So when a representative from his VA called him, asking if he would be interested in playing softball with fellow amputees, Rugg jumped.

“Hell yeah. I’ll be there,” Rugg said.

“It’s therapeutic,” Rugg says. “It’s like being with family. It’s like going home to see mom and dad for the holidays and being around people that love and accept you. It’s the same thing with this.”

“We’ve been pushed to the brink of what our bodies can be pushed to,” he said. “Sometimes my leg - it’s sweaty. It hurts. But the job’s not done. I push it to the end.”

The Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team is a nonprofit organization that depends on charitable donations to continue their outreach and advocacy across the United States. If you are interested in learning more or donating to the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team, visit their website:, or call: (703) 549-2288.

Teen's goal: Eliminate phantom pain in amputees

Thursday - 11/10/2011, 1:50pm ET

Katherine Bomkamp is seen with her invention, which is designed to eliminate phantom pain felt by amputees (Photo Courtesy of Intel )Darci Marchese,

WASHINGTON -- Katherine Bomkamp was struck by what she saw the first time she visited Walter Reed Army Medical Center with her father, a member of the U.S. Air Force.

"Sitting in waiting rooms were all these very young amputees returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. That really got to me. They were 18,19 years old, young kids," she says.

The Waldorf teen, 16 at the time, says she talked to the men and women who had lost their limbs at war about phantom pain -- the pain an amputee feels in the limb that's no longer there. The pain, she says, is "caused by the brain that automatically sends signals to a limb to move. The signals get caught in the severed nerve endings, causing pain."

About the same time as her visits to the hospital, Bomkamp's tenth grade science teacher encouraged the North Point High School students to complete a project that could have an impact.

Bomkamp decided to study phantom pain, hoping to find a way to prevent it without the use of drugs. Over time, she invented a holistic prosthetic device she now calls the "pain free socket," a device that uses heat to force the brain to focus on high temperatures produced through thermal-bio feedback, rather than send signals to the nonexistent limb.

The invention won her several awards at local and national science fairs. But she didn't stop there.

Now a 19-year-old sophomore at West Virginia University, Bomkamp is working to have her device commercialized. She's received one patent for the "pain free socket" and says a major prosthetic company has expressed interest in it. She's even created her own company.

She credits the university for helping her develop the device and to raise funding for it.

"Before I came to WVU, this was a project. But now it's become a viable product that could go on the market," she says.

"It's come a long way from when I was 16."

Bomkamp is excited to give back to wounded warriors. She says the device will be tested on amputees and she hopes it will be on the market in just a couple of years.

Because of her accomplishments, she becomes the first West Virginia University student to be inducted into the National Museum of Education's National Gallery for America's Young Inventors. And last week, she was named one of Glamour Magazine's "21 Amazing Young Women." The distinction was given to young women across the country for changing the world through service and innovation.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Finding her stride

Josh Radtke | The State News
Kinesiology senior McKayla Hanson waits for her brother Jacob, 13, to bring up the other handcycle into the driveway after the two finished an afternoon ride. Due to her high amputation, Hanson rides the special type of bike during the running and bicycle portions of the triathlon. She travels to California this week to compete in a half Ironman Triathlon, a stepping stone to the Paralympic games, where she is determined to one day be a competitor.

After her right leg was amputated at age 7, McKayla Hanson gave up on rollerblading, biking and her chances at a normal life.

In elementary school, Hanson, who is now a kinesiology senior at MSU, purposely broke her prosthetic leg to get out of wearing it to class.

Years later, Hanson is walking, biking and rock-climbing.

She’s been training for months to participate in the 2011 San Diego Triathlon Challenge on Sunday and today, she’s leaving for California.

“I hate the fact that most people I see that are physically disabled are either overweight or obese,” Hanson said. “Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean you should eat McDonald’s every day or sit on your butt because your back or leg hurts — you can’t let that get to you.”

“It’s huge for somebody that’s injured,” Long said. “It’s not only getting out; it’s realizing that you can do active activities.”

A step behind
Hanson’s parents put her into foster care along with her sister to give them a chance at a better life.

When Hanson was living with her first foster care family, she began feeling pain in her right leg.

She cried from the pain, but her foster parents told her it was growing pains. A tumor was visible on her leg.

In the Hanson house, where she went next in foster care, that kind of neglect didn’t last.

Her new foster parents, who later adopted her, told her she had a rare form of bone cancer — rhabdomyosarcoma.

From the hip socket and pelvic bone down, Hanson’s right leg had to be amputated.

“I was more happy than scared because of the pain I felt,” Hanson said.

Doctors said she’d never walk again, but her family pushed her to overcome her disability.

“She didn’t have a disability when she was here; she was one of the kids,” McKayla’s mother, Elisa Hanson said. “When it was her time to clean, (she cleaned).”

McKayla Hanson’s mother was by her side the first time she rode a bicycle after cancer claimed her right leg, and now as she’s training for the triathlon this weekend.

“They said, ‘You can either lay in bed and feel sorry for yourself … or you can get up and do something,’” McKayla Hanson said.

“My physical disability has never stopped me since they told me that.”

Leaps and bounds
Although her right leg was gone, McKayla Hanson had the heart of an athlete growing up.

She began swimming in middle school, then began rock climbing and handcycling.

Her athletic career was jump-started when she got a new prosthetic leg from the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization that helps raise money for disabled athletes.

“We think it’s something that helps make someone’s life whole and more meaningful,” said Travis Ricks, programs coordinator and athlete relations at the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

“We want them to not feel like there’s something missing in their life.”

With a new leg and ambitions to participate in triathlons, McKayla Hanson began working with a coach on the handcycle — an arm-operated bicycle.

Ray Bailey, a member of the Tri-County Bicycle Association. never taught someone with a disability before and never used a handcycle.

It’s been a learning experience for both of them, but since they started working together, she’s gone from about 9 mph to about 14 mph average on her handcycle — enough to be competition at the triathlon next Sunday, Bailey said.

“I’ve pushed her a little bit, only to the point I can see it on her face,” he said.

McKayla Hanson also rides with the Tri-County Bicycle Association and the Fusion Cycling Team.
To members, it’s more than a way to exercise.

“If we see people are struggling in the cycling community, we kind of like to help,” Bailey said.

Long, who also leads the Fusion Cycling Team, met McKayla Hanson at a race about a year ago.

Getting to know her and other disabled athletes provides support and hope for him.

“You’re learning from someone that’s gone through the same road as you,” Long said.

“You can talk to a lot of people, friends and family, that haven’t gone through a disability, but they can’t really understand unless they’ve gone through it.”

At MSU, McKayla’s studying to become a physical therapist — to give back to the disabled community, as she was helped by others.

“I really would like to work with the disabled community in any way that I can,” she said.

“Whether it be to incorporate more physical fitness for them, start my own organization or anything along those lines, but I really want to work … for those who are physically challenged.”

McKayla Hanson’s training won’t be over when she finishes the triathlon in San Diego.

After that, her training for the 2014 Paralympics begins.

“She’ll take something competitive, not necessarily just a marathon, but get ready for the triathlon and take it to the extreme limit,” Long said.

“She’s a true athlete.”

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Biotech start-up builds artful artificial limbs

Bespoke Innovations has gone out on a limb by building a new business around a bold idea – that prosthetic legs can communicate a message of personal style more than disability.

In a packed lecture hall at Stanford last week, Scott Summit, Bespoke’s chief technology officer and a Stanford engineering lecturer, told those of us in the audience about his start-up company’s vision — to bring humanity and self-esteem back to people who have suffered traumatic limb loss.

Using a 3D scanner, technicians create a digital image of an amputee’s surviving limb and create a mirror image of that morphology using parametric computer modeling. They feed this data into a laser-powered 3D printer that fabricates a custom superstructure, which can then be adorned with fashion-oriented materials like wood, metal, cloth, and leather. “We can create a personalized limb in 30 hours for about $4,000,” Summit told us.

Both utilitarian and beautiful, the Bespoke staff works with people to customize the designs and materials to reflect individual personality and tastes. Some are finished with ballistic nylon or polished nickel. One was covered in quilted leather, like a Chanel handbag. For a military veteran with a love of tribal tattoos, the team scanned a favorite tattoo design from one leg and fabricated the fairing using that theme. A competitive soccer player who lost his leg to cancer chose an aircraft-like honeycomb design that allowed him to play soccer again.

Summit, who works alongside co-founder Kenneth Trauner, MD, a Bay Area orthopedic surgeon, hinted that his interdisciplinary team of designers, engineers, physicians, and entrepreneurs has other innovations under wraps that will push the boundaries of human prosthetics and be “the coolest things you’ve ever seen.”

A video of the lecture is available on Stanford University’s Entrepreneurship Corner website.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Lone Marine holds salute to Rolling Thunder vets for over 3 hours

WASHINGTON – In a city dedicated to monumental sacrifices, there’s one that stands strong and never surrenders.

“It just gives me chills,” says Jennifer Phillips of Virginia Beach. “I can’t believe he’s out there.”

Retired Marine Staff Sgt Tim Chambers holds his salute for over 3 hours

Retired Marine Staff Sergeant Tim Chambers has stood at this post since 2002.”It’s an extremely long time to hold a salute that long,” says Air Force Master Sergeant Russ Ware of Columbia, MD. “Takes a lot determination and a lot of discipline. This guy does it every year.”

With a stiff spine and straight shoulders, this lone marine stands at attention as the Rolling Thunder rumbles by…for more than three hours.

“They zoom by me and I’m getting an eyeball at them,” says Chambers. “I’m trying to give every one of them that ‘Welcome home’ they didn’t get.”
Chamber says it started as a spontaneous ‘Thank you’ nine years ago but has now become his moral obligation.

Retired Marine Major Larry Carmon was one of thousands who came to watch Chambers. “I did 28 years in the Corps,” Carmon says. “I was a drill instructor. I’m totally impressed with this young man. Totally impressed.”

Carmon says holding a salute this long is nearly impossible for a healthy Marine. It’s unthinkable for a wounded warrior.

“He has a broken wrist? God Bless him.”

Only the slightest of a tremble gave Chambers away. A broken wrist that should have been in a cast was instead held high in a salute.

“I knew something was wrong!” Ware says. “He started to waver a little bit today. That’s dedication! That’s service before self.”

But as one hour bled into the next, the temperatures started to soar.

“If you actually watch him right now, he’s in distress,” says Dave Macedonia. The veteran says he started ferrying water and aspirin to Chambers when it became apparent the solider was in pain. “You know, veterans help each other,” Macedonia says. “If he falls down out there, we’re going to help him.”

But Diane Hoge says she knows her son would never let that happen. “He was always very determined,” Hoge says. “Everything he does, he puts 150% into it.”

She says her son got it from his grandmother Anne DeSanis. Every year, the 81 year-old quietly stands on the sidelines and refuses to sit down until her grandson finishes what he started.

“It’s real emotional,” she says. “Real emotional.”

The Lone Marine has now become a bit of a celebrity. People flock to this corner just to get a picture with of him. But rather than let it go to his head, Chamber says he hopes others will follow his example.

“I’m doing this because America needs to see this,” he says. “I want them to emulate it any which way they can across the country.”

Because, for Staff Sgt. Tim Chambers, when it comes to remembering the men who serve, you never give up. You never surrender.

Rolling Thunder is an annual motorcycle rally that is held in Washington, DC during the Memorial Day weekend to call for the government’s recognition and protection of Prisoners of War (POWs) and those Missing in Action (MIAs). About 400,000 veterans will roar across Washington, DC on their motorcycles as a tribute to American war heroes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Virtual Reality May Help Treat Phantom Limb Pain

October 11, 2011 (Hamburg, Germany) — In the future, amputees might merely repeatedly watch a virtual version of their lost limb in motion to be rid of their phantom limb pain.

Researchers believe that virtual reality, which uses sensory illusions in real time, can reverse the remodeling processes within the brain that occur in most patients who lose a limb. The idea is to get the brain to believe that the limb is still there, so the pain-inducing conversion processes do not occur.

Institute for Applied Computer Science, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany

The virtual approach has several advantages over the standard mirror box approach because it uses artificially modified movements instead of merely normal mirrored ones, said Martin Diers, PhD, from the Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, Central Institute of Mental Health, Medical Faculty Mannheim, University of Heidelberg, Germany

Dr. Diers' virtual reality study was among several presented here at Pain in Europe VII: 7th Congress of the European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC) that suggest it may be possible to prevent or even reverse the postamputation maladaptive cortical reorganization that causes phantom limb pain.

Mirror Box

Research has already shown that using mirrors to give patients the optical impression that their missing limb is still present can reduce phantom limb pain, and that brain activation differs between amputees with and without pain. Dr. Diers' group conducted a longitudinal study comparing brain changes before and after a classical mirror box treatment in patients with phantom pain to better understand the mechanisms of mirror treatment.

To determine whether the virtual mirror box is comparable to the mirror box in terms of brain activation, the researchers conducted a pilot study. They put 20 healthy volunteers inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner with their left arm hidden, and fitted them with head-mounted 3-dimensional goggles. The virtual reality process transfers images of movements from 1 hand (the right hand) onto the other (hidden or amputated) hand. The viewer sees his or her body with both hands moving, but is actually moving only the right hand.

During these movements, researchers measured brain activity. They found activation in the primary sensorimotor cortex contralateral to the actual movement. In addition, they found activation in the primary sensorimotor cortex contralateral to the virtual movement.

During a second experiment, the volunteers moved their right hand in front of a mirror and could see their mirrored right hand as their left hand.

"In both of these conditions, you have movements of the right hand, but you are seeing movement of both hands," said Dr. Diers. "The difference is that one is a mirrored image and one is in virtual reality."

With the virtual reality technique, there was significantly more activation in the primary somatosensory cortex contralateral to the actual movement. "So, both conditions are quite similar in terms of brain activation, but the virtual reality mirror box has some advantages during the training from which patients could benefit," said Dr. Diers.

Additional Advantage

It also has other, technical advantages. The mirrored limb always moves opposite to the intact limb, which is unnatural, especially for the leg. The position of the arm inside a magnetic resonance imaging scanner is also unnatural, and even uncomfortable. Instead of using only responses from the opposite remaining limb, virtual reality can include the residual limb by capturing motion data directly from a patient's stump.

Dr. Diers estimated that it would take 15 minutes a day for 4 weeks to "trick" the brain into thinking the limb still exists, and for the phantom pain to subside. His research indicates that the pain is reduced for at least 2 months.

In the future, virtual reality applications will likely be used instead of the classical mirror box, but it will take some time for them to reach clinical practice, partly because of the expense, said Dr. Diers.

Up to 80% of amputees experience some phantom limb pain. Factors that influence whether a patient experiences this pain include age (those who lose a limb younger than about 7 years do not normally feel this pain), the degree of preoperative pain (less pain before the amputation normally leads to less phantom pain), and genetics. The use of a myoelectric prostheses or sensory discrimination training at the stump can also improve phantom pain.

This research is part of the European Research Council–founded PHANTOMMIND project. A second funded project that uses magnetic resonance imaging carried out by Dr. Diers and others, and presented at the meeting, showed that patients could learn to regulate their brain response.

This study included 10 healthy control patients who completed 24 neurofeedback sessions on 4 consecutive days. Their objective was to regulate activation in the posterior insula and anterior cingulated cortex either up or down in response to painful electrical stimulation.

"This method seems promising not only for phantom pain patients, but also for chronic back pain or generalized pain syndromes," Professor Herta Flor, PhD, from the Department of Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience, University of Heidelberg, commented in a press release. "With these possibilities for targeted control of the body's own pain perception mechanisms, a whole new world opens up that could soon free us, in many areas, from dependence on analgesic medications, with all their diverse side effects and risk of complications."

Another approach being studied is the rubber hand illusion paradigm that involves replacing the missing hand with a realistic artificial limb and stroking the real and replica limb simultaneously, while the patient focuses on the rubber hand. After some seconds, most patients experience the rubber hand as his or her own hand.

Ketamine Effect?

Yet another potential treatment discussed at the pain meeting was the administration of ketamine pre- and postoperatively. Researchers at the Pain Clinic, University Hospital, Martin, Slovak Republic, carried out a blind, prospective, placebo-controlled study that included 31 patients with diabetes who were to undergo lower limb amputation.

After receiving anesthesia, 25 patients got a 0.5 mg/kg bolus of intravenous ketamine. After surgery, these participants received a 48-hour postoperative intravenous infusion of either 0.1 mg/kg/hour or 0.05 mg/kg/hour of ketamine; those who did not receive ketamine got magnesium.

Three months postsurgery, the incidence of phantom pain was 66.6% in the group who did not receive ketamine compared with 0% in the group receiving the higher postsurgery ketamine dose (P = .02) and 15.4% in the lower postsurgery ketamine dose group (P = .07).

The authors have disclosed no relevant financial relationships.

Pain in Europe VII: 7th Congress of the European Federation of IASP Chapters (EFIC): Abstracts S268, S270, and S424. Presented September 24, 2011.

'Crying ain't gonna grow anything back': Extraordinary bravery of Marine who lost three limbs in blast... and then walked down the aisle

By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 7:36 AM on 11th October 2011

Comments (22) Add to My Stories Share Tyler Southern, 22, is perpetually positive.

'I'm chronically happy,' he said. 'It's kinda hard to get me off the happy horse.'

Mr Southern's optimism continues in spite of the massive injuries he received while serving as a lance corporal Marine in Afghanistan.

A triple: That's the way Tyler Southern refers to triple amputees like himself, after he lost both his legs and right arm from an IED explosion
Both of his legs and his right arm were blown off by an improvised explosive device, making Mr Southern a triple amputee.

'I didn't feel that me crying about it would help the situation at all and I know it won't. Crying ain't gonna grow anything back,' he said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

Training: Mr Southern is in physical rehabilitation at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland
He is still undergoing physical rehabilitation, and works out much of the day, though his injuries are not the only focus of his life.

In July, he married Ashley Statti, a friend from high school and the wedding was filmed by a local Jacksonville, Florida television station.

Mr Southern's injuries are not putting a stop to his military career either.

He plans to work in the public affairs office of the Marines, and will not be quitting any time soon.

'I plan on doing 16 more years,' Mr Southern said in an interview with The Huffington Post.

'I told my dad I'd do 20, I'm not going to let something like this stop me.'

For the next 18 months, however, much of his time will be spent at Walter Reed for his physical therapy. With the prosthetic legs and arm that doctors have given him, he needs to exercise his other muscles and build up strength in his torso.

'I've got the world at my prosthetic feet,' Mr Southern said.

click here to see rest of story and video

Monday, October 3, 2011

Oscar Pistorius: The bullet in the chamber

(CNN) -- He's "the fastest man on no legs," or -- as his sponsor's high-profile advertising campaign put it -- "the bullet in the chamber."

He is Oscar Pistorius, the "Blade Runner" who is changing the world's perception of what is acceptable on an athletics track.

Born without a fibula bone in each leg, the South African is the first double amputee to run at the world championships, and next year he will be the first to race at the Olympics.

"I think next year's going to be quite a big year, as far as demand on my performances," the 24-year-old told CNN.

"I feel that the condition I'm in and the knowledge I've gained probably will definitely help me in achieving those times in the first half of next season. So I know next year is going to be a big year."

Pistorius qualified for the 400 meters with a time of 45.07 seconds in Italy in July, which is less than two seconds slower than Michael Johnson's 1999 world record and would have given him fifth place in the final of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Pistorius on Championship experience Pistorius buoyant after Daegu breakthrough

He did not compete at the main event in China. Despite eventually reversing the decision by athletics' ruling body to ban the carbon-fiber prosthetic blades he uses, the Johannesburg native was unable to meet the qualifying mark.

South Africa's 'Blade Runner' He did, however, run at the Beijing Paralympics that year, becoming the first athlete to win gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m.

The International Association of Athletics Federations had at first decreed, after a series of tests, that the blades gave Pistorius an unfair advantage.

He overturned that at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and maintains that he will be competing on a level playing field in London next year.

"If the legs did provide such an advantage that some of the people are claiming they did, then there would be a lot more amputees using the exact same prosthetic legs I have, running the exact same times I have -- and that's not the case," Pistorius said.

click here to read more

Friday, September 16, 2011

How to Exercise Sound Leg in Amputation

Exercise and keeping your body active is important even if you have endured the amputation of a limb. Amputations of a part of the leg or foot may be necessary due to peripheral vascular disease and diabetes, which hinders blood flow to the lower limbs, causing part of the tissue to die or become necrotic. Other reasons for an amputation include an accident or injury that severely damages the leg. You will require physiotherapy after your surgery to learn how to exercise the affected leg and become mobile again with the help of a prosthetic limb or wheelchair. Even if you cannot walk, it is important to exercise your sound leg to maintain healthy circulation and prevent blood clots. Your doctor will advise how soon after surgery you can begin an exercises. Once you have been given the go-ahead, try these exercises.

Range of Motion
Step 1
Lie flat on your back on an exercise mat with your arms at your sides. Keep your hands palms down on the mat for support. Use a pillow to support your amputated leg if that is more comfortable.

Step 2
Slowly lift your unaffected leg off the mat as high as possible. Keep your amputated limb motionless. Hold your leg in the air for a count of three to five, while keeping your toes pointing straight ahead and stretching your leg as much as possible.

Step 3
Move your leg in a circular motion in the air. Bring your leg back down on the mat and relax. Raise your leg again and move it from side to side five to 10 times.

Step 4
Return to the starting position and rest before repeating the entire exercise, completing 10 to 12 repetitions. This exercise helps to relieve leg cramping that may occur from sitting or being in a wheelchair for long periods of time. It also improves circulation and leg flexibility.

Muscle Tone
Step 1
Sit up straight in your wheelchair or a sturdy chair. Loop the elastic exercise band around your toe and grip the handles tightly in each hand.

Step 2
Raise your leg so that it is extended straight out in front of you. Bend your leg at the knee to bring it as close to you as possible. Pull back on the exercise band handles by bending your elbows and bringing your hands close to your chest. You may need to lean back slightly.

Step 3
Remain in this position and extend your leg out straight again. The resistance from the exercise band should make this difficult and work out the muscles in your leg. Hold this position for a count of three to five. Relax, lower your leg and continue the exercise 10 to 15 times.

Step 1
Stand up straight and hold the back of a heavy chair or a table with both hands for support. If you wear a prosthetic leg, remove it so that the weight of your body rests on your sound leg.

Step 2
Let go of the table or chair and spread your arms out to balance the weight of your body on your leg. Maintain this position for a count of 10 or more.

Step 3
Hold the table or chair again and relax before doing the exercise five to 10 more times. You can also hold a broomstick straight in front of you in both hands to help you balance.

Individuals who are wheelchair-bound due to a broken leg or ankle can also do these exercises. Have someone stand behind you, if you are afraid of standing on one foot. It is important to wear a supportive athletic shoe on your sound foot to prevent injury or strain to the ankle and knee.

Ask your physiotherapist to show you how to correctly perform each exercise to avoid injuring yourself. Ensure that the elastic exercise band is correctly held in place around your foot to make sure it doesn't recoil against you. Have someone assist you with exercises to help prevent falls and injury. If you experience pain in your amputated leg or anywhere else in your body while exercising, consult your physiotherapist before continuing.
"Senior Step"; Keep Moving: Exercises for People with Lower-extremity Amputations; Melissa Wolff-Burke, Ed.D., P.T., and Elizabeth Cole, P.T.; 2004 Resistance Band Exercises
National Center on Physical Activity and Disability; Epidemiology and Pathophysiology of Amputation; Ken Pitetti, Ph.D.

About this Author
Noreen Kassem is a hospital doctor and a medical writer. Her articles have been featured in "Women's Health," "Nutrition News," "Check Up" and "Alive Magazine." Kassem also covers travel, books, fitness, nutrition, cooking and green living.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images
Article reviewed by John Hagemann | Last updated on: 09/05/11

Monday, August 15, 2011

Shark bite victim becomes pioneer to serve amputees

Craig Hutto’s leg was mangled by a 6-foot-long bull shark with a stubborn streak.

Not long before the attack, he’d heard about a Louisiana girl who died from a shark attack just 100 miles away from Cape San Blas, Fla., where Hutto, then 16, and his family were vacationing. But he just wanted to go fishing, so he was standing in murky water when he felt the first bump, then the agonizing bite. The shark seemed impervious as Hutto’s brother pounded away at its nose with a rod and reel.

Hours later, Hutto lay in a Panama City hospital bed, pleading that his mangled right leg be saved. No leg meant no varsity basketball. No spring baseball. No independence.

But doctors ultimately ruled in favor of life over his lifeless limb, amputating five inches above the knee.

Six years later, Hutto’s life is different from the one he planned. But he feels closer to his family. He’s a few months shy of his bachelor’s degree in nursing from Middle Tennessee State University — a path he never would have taken without that shark’s intervention. And he’s serving as test pilot for a robotic leg being developed at Vanderbilt University, his effort to make life better for the nation’s rising number of amputees.

“I was planning on doing computer science when I went to college,” he said. “Then this happened to me, and I realized these people saved my life and I have to do something to pay them back.”

As a lab assistant at Vanderbilt, Hutto, now 23, works with professor of mechanical engineering Michael Goldfarb and his team of researchers. The leg he’s testing is the first of its kind. It makes it easier for Hutto to walk up slopes and stairs because a computer chip activates an electronic calf muscle.

The leg also makes it easier for Hutto to stay standing because it responds to sudden shifts in motion the way non-mechanized prostheses don’t.

“When it goes on the market, I can tell myself I experienced the falls and mishaps to get it where it is today,” he said.

The robotic leg weighs about 9 pounds and features programmable software that responds to Hutto’s movement. It can tell when he’s trying to sit or stand, or when he needs extra help to walk up stairs. He has been testing the leg for four years, weighs in on the leg’s functionality and gives researchers feedback on any issues that may arise.

Hutto also reviews other studies and literature about prostheses for the team.
Continue story click here

Monday, August 1, 2011

Elephant With Prosthetic Foot In Cambodia (VIDEO)

From Wildlife Alliance:

PHNOM TAMAO - In 2007, orphaned baby elephant Chhouk was found wandering alone in the forests of Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia. Badly emaciated and separated from his mother, this endangered Asian elephant had lost his left front foot due to injuries sustained from a poacher’s snare. The infection and severity of the illness represented certain death for a young elephant alone in the forest.

The Cambodian government requested the assistance of Wildlife Alliance and wildlife rescue and care director Nick Marx, who made the arduous journey and stayed alongside Chhouk for more than a week while his immediate injuries were tended to. When Chhouk had been stabilized, the injured elephant was transported by truck to Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center in a difficult and treacherous 26-hour journey. [Text continues below video.]

Chhouk was severely malnourished, his stump was badly infected, and nearly 5 inches of infected tissue and bone had to be removed. After his immediate survival was secure, his long-term care was the next concern. Without a foot, he was suffering severe balance issues, and the strain on his hips and back would make his lifelong welfare unlikely. With funding assistance from SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, and technical support from the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics, Chhouk was fitted with his first prosthetic foot in 2009. Because of his injuries, Chhouk will never be a candidate for release into the forest, but he is immensely beloved both inside Cambodia, and as a global ambassador for Cambodia’s threatened Asian elephant populations. Featured on television in Australia, the U.S., and Britain, he is an eloquent messenger to the world about the need to save Asia’s wildlife and forests.

Elephants are rough on hardware, and each year until he matures, Chhouk will need a replacement foot. As he continues to grow into his adolescence, he requires new prostheses to fit his growing frame and replace those lost to wear and tear. This month, Wildlife Alliance and the Cambodian School of Prosthetics and Orthotics fitted Chhouk with his fourth prosthesis.

You can visit Chhouk at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Refuge Center, an hour outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia to meet him and learn more about his inspiring story. If Cambodia is too far away, check out this video of the inspirational elephant, taking his new foot out for a walk in the forest and a swim in his lake.

Visit to learn more.

Monday, July 25, 2011

2012 Olympic Games: Blade Runner Oscar Pistorius sets sights on 400m world ...

by Mike Walters, Daily Mirror 21/07/2011

SEND him victorious, Oscar Pistorius, quicker than a London bus, the fastest man on no legs.

Pistorius, the double amputee 400 metres sensation nicknamed Blade Runner, stormed through the gateway to London 2012 by smashing his personal best in Italy on Tuesday.

After clocking 45.07secs in Lignano, Italy – shaving more than half a second off his previous record – Pistorius dipped inside the qualifying time for both next month’s world championships in South Korea and the Olympics.

Now the 24-year-old South African is in line to become the first sprinter to compete for both Olympic and Paralympic gold and Pistorius tweeted: “Can’t sleep I’m so happy. I have a dumb smile that’s permanent. Feels kind of surreal to have qualification time in the bag for next year’s Olympics.”

Until his record lap, Pistorius ranked only fourth among South Africa’s 400m contenders, but his time in Lignano would have been enough for fifth place in Beijing three years ago and fourth at the world championships in Berlin in 2009.

On his last visit to London, the Blade Runner dropped in on the 2012 stadium and settled into the blocks as an aspiring Olympian, now he has genuine hopes of an unprecedented Olympic and Paralympic double.

Pistorius, who runs on carbon fibre blades costing £15,000, is world record holder over 100, 200 and 400 metres in ­Paralympic events.

Three years ago he won a case against the International Amateur Athletics Federation, who tried to ban him from able-bodied competition, claiming his artificial limbs gave him an unfair advantage.

Pistorius produced scientific evidence showing he was running at a disadvantage because he had no calf muscles and a lesser supply of oxygenated blood.

Now his dream of becoming the fastest man over 400m is hurtling into view and he told Mirror Sport: “I can’t wait to come back and compete in London. My goal is to be the fastest man on the planet, and I would love to set a new world record at London 2012.

“The British people love their sport and I know they will generate a fantastic atmosphere for the athletes.

“If they ever found evidence I was gaining an unfair advantage, I would stop running. I would not want to compete at the top level if I knew the cards were stacked in my favour.

“But it would be something special for me to race in the Olympic 400m next year. That’s extremely important for me.”

Pistorius is blessed with a sense of humour which often distinguishes amputees from the able-bodied.

He said: “I’m not disabled – I just don’t have any legs. I had both limbs amputated below the knee as a baby because I was born without a fibula due to a congenital condition.

“My situation is never going to change, so the best way to handle my condition is with humour, and I learned to do that at an early stage.

“When I was at boarding school, my mates used to play jokes on me. I would wake up in the dormitory every morning and the first thing I had to do was to look for my legs!

“Those experiences soon teach you the value of humility, and I have tried to carry that attitude on to the track.

“I wish I had started racing in Paralympic competition sooner than I did because it taught me the importance of doing your best, not winning at all costs.”

Oscar Pistorius is a BT ambassador. He will be sharing his London 2012 experience through the BT Storytellers campaign at

Thursday, July 14, 2011

'Can't' not in amputee's vocabulary

Palm Desert High grad Scout Bassett to compete in New York triathlon
For athlete Scout Bassett, an amputee almost since birth, getting to play sports has been as much a challenge as the sports themselves, with coaches and teammates telling her she could never be a serious competitor.

Rather than defeat her, those challenges made her stronger and more determined to prove her disability didn't define her.
“I was always welcome to practice with the team, but not compete and it was very difficult growing up,” Bassett said.
The 22-year-old Palm Desert High School graduate is among more than 3,000 athletes who will be competing in the Nautica New York City Triathlon on Aug. 7 in New York.
This is Bassett's fifth trip to the triathlon. She races in the severe leg impairment category.

Competitors swim just under a mile in Hudson Bay, bike 24.85 miles on the Henry Hudson Parkway and run 6.2 miles in Central Park.
In preparation for this year, Bassett has been working with a full-time personal trainer and triathlon coach.

“I'm really excited more than in past years because I really dedicated myself this year,” Bassett said.

Bassett was just under a year old when she lost her right leg in a fire. Shortly after, she was left on the doorstep of a government orphanage in Nanjing, China. She remained at the orphanage until she was 7.

“We are not certain of the circumstances surrounding the incident — where, when, how, why, etc. I arrived at the Nanjing Orphanage at the age of 1 with severe burns on both legs, but the fire only took my right leg from above the knee down,” she said.

Consistently passed over by couples preferring to adopt children with full physical abilities, she began to wonder if she would ever leave the orphanage.
Then in 1994, Joe and Susi Bassett, a young couple from Michigan, visited the orphanage to pick up a 16-month-old child they had adopted through Bethany Christian Services Adoption Agency.

Touring the orphanage, the then 6-year-old girl caught Susi Bassett's eyes.
The older children were seated around a table having a snack, the Bassetts recall in a short biography of Scout on YouTube. Susi Bassett looked to her right and “a little girl looked up at me and I said, ‘Oh, my god, she needs me. I've just got to have her,'” she recalled.

(Page 2 of 2)
At the same time, a young boy who sang to them as they walked into the room caught Joe Bassett's attention. Ten months later, after the paperwork was completed, they returned to China to bring both children home.

“I didn't know she was missing a leg because she was sitting at the table and I said, ‘That's just all the more reason she needs me,'” Susi Bassett said.
Fairy tale lifeLife since has been amazing, Scout Bassett said, though not without challenges brought on by what many saw as a disability.
She arrived in the U.S. and saw kids playing in youth soccer and softball and wanted to join them.

“I saw it as something that transcends language and other barriers,” she said.
But there were other barriers placed in front of her due to her missing leg.
“It wasn't until my experience with sports that I realized my disability would be a hindrance,” she said.

It was late in high school when that started to change. But along the way, she had started to question her abilities, she said.

“I was starting to believe what they were saying, that I never would be good enough to compete and that I belonged on the sidelines,” Bassett said.
“I credit my parents for teaching me not to feel self-pity and not treating me differently from their other two kids who are able-bodied,” she said.
Bassett also didn't want to give the coaches and players the satisfaction of feeling they had beaten her down. So rather than quitting, she found her determination and continued to prove herself.

Revisiting the pastAfter the Nautica triathlon, Bassett will compete in the ITU World Triathlon Championships, which will take her back to China for the first time since she was adopted, nearly 15 years ago.

“It will be an emotional trip for sure,” she said.
She said she plans to visit the orphanage where she hopes her story will help encourage and inspire other young girls there not to give up hope.
“As an orphan, I never thought I would leave or thought if I did I would be living on the streets.

“So living here and competing in triathlons is something I could never ever have dreamt about,” she said.
Her parents live in Palm Desert along with her brother and sister. They moved to the desert in 2006. Bassett attended Palm Desert High her senior year and was on the golf team.

She expects to graduate from UCLA after the fall quarter with a degree in anthropology.

“I really think that everything in my life happened because of incredible support of family, coaches, mentors and advisers.
“This has definitely been a team effort. All success in my life I share with all who have been a part of this journey,” she said.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Post-op gymnast is leg-cellent

The incredible footage shows the 21-year-old perform circular spins and back flips while wearing a prosthetic leg.

Plucky Adam, from Minnesota, then removes the leg to practise landing on one leg while performing somersaults.

Adam lost his leg after suffering lymphangiosarcoma, a rare cancer of lymphatic vessels, and he made the hit video to inspire others with disabilities.

He said: "I was hoping to show my friends and family what I was able to do again, but I also hoped that other amputees would enjoy it. I've been inspired by videos of other amputees on YouTube, such as Sarah Reinertsen."

click here for more of the story

Monday, June 27, 2011

A day of pushing limits for wheelchair users

By Esmeralda Bermudez, Los Angeles Times
June 26, 2011

The once-avid motorcycle rider is not one to shy from adventure. But to dive 4 feet down a steep concrete embankment — in a wheelchair, while paralyzed from the waist down?

"Yeah," Molo said, gripping his wheels a few feet from the edge. "I'm gonna have to take a moment to think this one over."

A skateboarding park on Venice Beach transformed into a training ground Saturday morning as several dozen paraplegics and quadriplegics learned to drop, roll and dive on curved walls as tall as school buses. They did so all while sitting in their own wheelchairs.

The event was held by Life Rolls On, a group born out of the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation to help people with spinal cord injuries stay active. They teach surfing and this year, for the second time, skateboarding.

Participants, some as young as 6, showed up strapped to wheelchairs with legs that don't work or barely do. They're survivors of car crashes, shootings and surgeries gone wrong. Some were born with spinal defects.

Molo, 36, was struck by an SUV as he rode his motorcycle to work one day five years ago. The driver was on her cellphone. She made a left turn on a red light and plowed head-on into the computer repair technician.

For almost two years, Molo stayed in his house, too depressed to go out. He watched television, played computer games. Mostly, he slept. Then he found Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, which encourages wheelchair sports.

Three buddies from the center egged him on until he finally let go and took on the embankment — in one smooth, perfect swoop.

"Oh, yeah," he said proudly.

click here for more of the story

Amputees get back up and running

Nashville becomes arena for new amputee basketball league
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Written by
Claudia Pinto | The Tennessean Filed Under
Life Features

When Daryl Farler lost both of his legs, he doubted that he’d be able to walk again. Five years later, he’s running around playing basketball.

Farler was 25 when a dog scratched his left eye and he developed a serious strep infection. The medication he needed to stay alive restricted blood flow to his extremities and he lost both legs below the knee and several fingers.

He was in shock and initially clueless about his options, and the fear of being helpless fueled his depression.

“There’s a lot of depression,” says Farler, who is now 30 and lives in Murfreesboro. “I lived for 25 years with feet.”

What Farler learned is that advances in prosthetic technology have made it easier for amputees to be as active as anyone. He runs. He hunts. And now he has joined the new United Amputee Basketball League — a stand-up, three-on-three, basketball league for people who have lost a leg. He will be playing for a team that’s sponsored by Amputee Associates, a Nashville company that made his artificial limbs.

Click here for more of the story

Monday, June 20, 2011

Amputees find power in paddling

Written by
Kathryn Bursch
St. Petersburg, Florida - For Roy Howe, blue skies and blue water are a perfect way to avoid the blues.

"It's peaceful, it's relaxing, it's enjoyable," he says while paddling across the waters of Boca Ciega Bay.

Wednesday afternoon was actually Howe's first time in a kayak and most of the other people gliding near him are in the very same boat. They're members of an activity group called "A Step Ahead" and it aims to get people trying new things.

Besides an adventuresome spirit, group members also have another thing in common; they're all missing a limb... or two.

"There are other support groups out there, but we're more than a support group, we're an action group," says founder Jamie Kay Weil.

Weil is a former nurse who now works in the field of prosthetics. She says that in many cases amputees can actually be more active than before, because now the source of their infections and pain is gone.

Last month the group went sailing and next month it's swimming with the manatees. And while there's no peer pressure, it helps when everyone takes the plunge.

"If he can get in, I can get in," says Barbara Schickedanz, while waiting her turn to plunk down in a kayak.

Howe says a group like this can be life changing. "It gets you out of bed; it gets you out of the wheelchair."

Any amputee (even before surgery) can join the group and it has members of all ages. And most of the activities are free, because businesses help out. On Wednesday, Canoe Country Outfitters provided all the kayaks.

On this outing, so far so good; the only person to get wet was the instructor who tipped on purpose. So even with all the water around, you get the feeling that nothing can dampen this group's spirits. One woman gliding by exclaims, "I love it!"

For more information on A Step Ahead for Amputees call 727-564-8456 or click here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Amputee schoolgirl meets 'blade runner' athlete who inspired her to compete in the next Paralympics

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 2:55 PM on 30th May 2011

An amputee who was encouraged by a Paralympic star to fulfil her dreams of running again finally got to meet her hero.
Danielle Bradshaw, 12, who had her damaged leg amputated last year set her sights on competing at the Rio Games in 2016 after hearing about Paralympic champion Oscar Pistorius.

The schoolgirl met the 24-year-old South African athlete nicknamed the 'blade runner' and shared her experiences at a stadium in Manchester.

Danielle, from Newton in Hyde, was born with a dislocated knee and hips and chose to have her useless right leg amputated last year.

The Astley Sports College pupil had wanted to meet Oscar for three years and was granted her wish by organisers of the BT Paralympic World Cup at Sportcity in Manchester.
But she had a shock when Oscar, who has a double amputation, revealed that her story has also helped spur him on.

Oscar, who was born with a congenital foot defect that led to him having both legs amputated, said: 'Danielle's story is incredibly moving - it's been great to meet her.

'She is a real inspiration to me and can fulfil all her dreams.

'She just has to keep training and believing and she will get there.'

Click here for more of the story

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lacey Henderson running all the way to London

Cancer survivor and amputee Lacey Henderson has a berth on the U.S. Paralympic team for the London Games in 2012. (Andy Cross, The Denver Post )
Often, someone who doesn't know Lacey Henderson will spot the prosthesis replacing much of her right leg and blurt: "What happened to your leg?"

"I had cancer," Henderson routinely answers.

"Oh, that's horrible! I'm so sorry."

Henderson smiles and responds, "I'm not. I get great parking."

Three weeks short of her 22nd birthday, Henderson is on the verge of graduating from the University of Denver, where she majored in Spanish and minored in French and international health. Shortly after finishing four years on the Pioneers' cheerleading squad, she searched for a new athletic challenge this spring and last weekend locked up a berth on the U.S. team for the 2012 Paralympics in London.

The Denver native and graduate of Regis Jesuit High School needed to crack 20 seconds in the 100 meters in an official timing format to qualify for the U.S. team in the women's "T42" Paralympic classification, for athletes with single-leg amputations above the knee. She did so at the state high school track and field meet in Lakewood last weekend.

At Jeffco Stadium on Friday, she ran in the Paralympic exhibition 100 meters, but clipped her "racing" prosthetic with that of the boy in the next lane. After falling, Lacey got up and finished. The next day, she tried again in the Special Olympics 100 at the same meet. Her time was 19.98 seconds — two one-hundredths under what she needed.

It was symbolic. When she gets knocked down, she gets back up.

"I don't really have time for the cancer to come back at this point, so I'm feeling pretty confident," she said at DU's Driscoll Student Center. "It really wouldn't work with my schedule."

"Tired of being sick"

When Lacey was in the fourth grade, the diagnoses were that she had baker's cysts or, simply, "growing pains." Doctors then detected a tumor in her right knee. It was a soft-tissue synovial sarcoma, rare and found mostly in adult men. The survival rate is considered low, but it's so rare there isn't a huge sample. The most famous victim was actor Robert Urich, who died at age 55 in 2002.

Chemotherapy made Lacey violently ill and didn't seem to be working on the sarcoma. As doctors discussed the options with her and her parents — Linda and T.J., a longtime area high school track coach — the major one was amputation.

"I just wanted to be a normal person again and go back to school and I was tired of being sick," Lacey said. "So I said, 'Take it, I don't want it.' "

The amputation came in the spring of 1999. She also had a spot on her lung, but the chemotherapy zapped that.

"May 19 was my 12-year anniversary of being cancer free — and one-legged," she said. "I've been lucky. It has brought so many amazing things into my life, it has given me so many opportunities and so many gifts."

In early 2003, though, she was the target of harassment in her eighth-grade year at Hill Middle School. Some of it was vile or threatening online postings. Some of it was direct taunting about her prosthetic.

"It started off as people pretty sure just being uncomfortable with the leg," she said. "Towards the end, it was girls that just didn't like me."

In biology class, several girls placed remains of dissected frogs in her backpack.

Her parents moved her to Dora Moore School. The next year, she uneasily started at the girls division of Regis Jesuit, but discovered she loved it. "It was like going to camp for four years and you become close to your classmates," she said.

She was a cheerleader at Regis Jesuit, then at DU, doing all the athletic and acrobatic stunts. "I would have to watch for a while to see how people did (new routines)," she said, "and then I'd say, 'OK, this leg of mine might make me take a little bit longer, but I'm going to figure out how to do this if it kills me.' "

Denver attorney Julie Warren was DU's cheerleading coach during Lacey's stint on the squad. She admitted she wondered before Lacey's tryout about her physical capability and safety. "Then, probably within 10 minutes, I knew it was a nonissue," Warren said. "She had been so physically active during her youth and high school years, and prepared herself to do these physically challenging moves, she fit right in. That inspiration happened from Day One of meeting her.

"It was never a question of her not being able to do something the other girls did. That was incredibly impressive and a credit to her mental power and tenacity."

Click here for more of the story.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Man who lost leg embarks on 700-mile bike ride

Written by
Steve Kemme

GREEN TWP. - A year ago, Scott Lane lay in a hospital bed, trying to cope with the loss of the lower half of his left leg in a traffic accident.

Saturday, he embarks on a 700-mile bike ride to raise money to send amputee children to a summer camp in Warren County.

The ride represents the culmination of a journey for Lane that can't be measured in miles.

He conceived of the idea for the 700-mile bike ride before he ever climbed onto an exercise bike at the Clippard YMCA branch in Green Township, as part of his recovery.

"The first day I got on the exercise bike, I could only ride two miles," said Lane, 41, of Green Township. "I thought, 'Is this going to be more than I can handle?' The second day, I rode it five miles. After that, I never had a doubt. I knew I could do it."

Lane and seven others will leave Saturday morning from Camp Joy in Clarksville in Warren County, the site of the camp for youths who have lost limbs, and arrive in Kansas City, Mo., a few days before the start of the Amputee Coalition of America's 2011 National Conference on June 7. The organization is a nonprofit group based in Knoxville, Tenn.

The annual Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp at Camp Joy, has hosted more than 500 children from 42 states and three foreign countries. It includes such activities as swimming, fishing and canoeing, dancing, archery, basketball, wall-climbing and arts and crafts.

Lane and three other bicyclists in his travel group have prosthetic legs. A van carrying their suitcases and other necessities will accompany them.

So far, the group has raised $20,000 in donations and believe they can reach $30,000 by the end of their 700-mile bike ride.

"Hopefully, we'll get a lot of media attention along the way," Lane said. "We're trying to raise awareness of the needs of amputees as well as raise money."

All donations not used for the bike ride's expenses will go to the Paddy Ross Summer Camp. Tax-deductible donations can be made by going to the website, Non-tax-deductible donations can be made to the "I'm Ready Ride" fund at any US Bank branch.

Lane said it's important for children who have lost limbs to meet others facing the same challenges.

"The camp can lighten their burden and give the kids an opportunity to be around other people like them," he said. "Sometimes, it's hard enough just being a kid, much less being a kid with an amputation."

Lane lives with his wife, Nicole, and their son and two daughters from his previous marriage.

On May 6 of last year, Lane was riding his motorcycle when a car driven by a 24-year-old mother of three went left of center on Old Colerain Road in Colerain Township and struck him. Toxicology reports indicated that the woman had illegal drugs in her system.

Although the accident cost him the lower part of his left leg, Lane asked the judge not to send the woman to prison because he didn't want her children to be without their mother. She received five years' probation and was ordered to enter a drug-rehabilitation program.

Lane, a plumber, has been unable to return to work.

"There's no way I can stand on that leg for eight hours or carry a water heater down the steps with a dolly," he said. "Cycling doesn't bother it because it doesn't put that much pressure on it."

Initially, learning to walk with a prosthetic leg was more difficult than Lane thought it would be.

"The first week, I was like a baby trying to walk," he said. "It was a struggle."

Lane has come a long way from those initial steps on his prosthetic leg. The months and months of hard work have paid off.

Camp Joy is a fitting name for the starting point of his 700-mile bike ride to Kansas City.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Young athlete overcomes physical challenges

Posted: 05/17/2011
Last Updated: 17 hours and 4 minutes ago

By: Jason Pugh
DELRAY BEACH, Fla. - It's usually the parent that tries to inspire and motivate their children, but every now and then it's the other way around.

11-year-old Mikey Stolzenberg isn't the best player on his lacrosse team, however everyone would agree, he's the most courageous.

Three years ago, Mikey suffered from a rare immune disease that nearly took his life. During his seven week battle, doctors had to amputate both of his hands, and both feet.

"Now that he's growing every six months, he needs to get new sockets," says Mikey's dad, Keith Stolzenberg. "He doesn't wear arm prosthetics because they are too heavy and frankly the technology is not as good as what he can do with his arms as it is. He writes, he eats, he does just about everything."

This past weekend, the Pockets and Sockets Lacrosse Tournament took place to benefit the Mikey Stolzenberg trust, which will allow Mikey's family to purchase superior prosthetics so he can continue to participate in physical activities.

"His smile, his happiness, he doesn't let anything stop him," says event organizer Jennifer Bolger.

"This is great, I really liked it," says Mikey. "I thanked everybody for coming and I even get to play in my own tournament."

He even gave fans another reason to cheer. He scored a goal.

"I had a couple of misses, wasn't sure what to do, but then I got the hang of it and I scored," Mikey said.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Carol Forshaw's fight to get new right leg

Comments (4)Recommend (8) HER leg was ripped off during a horrific motorcycle accident.

But three years later Carol Forshaw is battling to buy herself a prosthetic replacement after claiming the NHS hasn’t provided her with an appropriate one.

The 35-year-old lost her right leg when she was involved in a car crash in Northumberland.

And she has spent the last three years fighting to get a properly-fitted prosthetic limb that will allow her to get on with her life.

Carol, of Stakeford, Northumberland, says the NHS have been unable to help her and she has decided to try and raise £26,000 to privately buy a leg.

She said: “If somebody told me that I would still be trying to get a prosthetic limb three years after my accident I wouldn’t have believed them.

“It’s just really frustrating. I work and I want to continue working but it’s really difficult when you don’t have a leg that fits properly.

“You have to carry kit around with you all the time and I have had a number of broken bones because the limbs don’t fit correctly.

“Because of the ill fitting leg I fell over. I’m a really determined character and all I want is to live a normal life and get my life back on track. The NHS are really under staffed and it’s difficult for amputees to make any progress.”

Carol’s life was changed forever when she lost control of her bike on a hillside in July 2008.

Careering into the path of an oncoming car, she was unable to get out the way quickly enough to stop the vehicle slicing through her leg, removing all the skin and tissue down to the bone.

She was left fighting for life on the roadside at Cragside, near Rothbury, as the blood drained from her body.

Had it not been for a crew from the Great North Air Ambulance, which flew her to Newcastle General Hospital in time for a life-saving total blood transfusion, she believes she would not have survived.

But now Carol needs to raise £26,000 for a private prosthetic limb. She has already managed to raise £13,000 through savings and fundraisers in hope to get on with her life.

A spokesperson for The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals Foundation Trust said: “Miss Forshaw is seen regularly at our Disablement Services Centre. We have not previously been made aware of these concerns and our team would be more than happy to discuss these with her, at her next attendance at the centre.”

Carol said: “When I lost my leg I remember thinking life was all about glamour and looking good. But now all I want is to get from A to B.

“I have already managed to raise half of the money through saving and various fundraisers.

“My colleagues and friends are now trying their best to help me raise the rest of the cash.”

A team of 11 friends of will now cycle from Whitehaven to Sunderland between May 20 and May 22 to help Carol reach her target.

Anyone wishing to help can email Carol at

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Veterans Compete For Gold At Warrior Games

Nicholas Gibbons, a single amputee with the British Royal Marines team, takes off from the blocks during practice Feb. 21 in Camp Pendleton, Calif., for the inaugural Marine Corps Trials. Fifty athletes were chosen as members of the All-Marine team for the Warrior Games.

Michael Goulding/AP Nicholas Gibbons, a single amputee with the British Royal Marines team, takes off from the blocks during practice Feb. 21 in Camp Pendleton, Calif., for the inaugural Marine Corps Trials. Fifty athletes were chosen as members of the All-Marine team for the Warrior Games.
text size A A A May 17, 2011 The U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs is hosting 220 servicemen and women who are wounded, injured or ill this week for the second annual Warrior Games.

"We have the Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, the Coast Guard and Special Operations Command all participating," says Charlie Huebner, chief of paralympics for the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Huebner says a primary goal of the games is to encourage people with disabilities to be physically active.

Some of the athletes are soldiers you've heard a lot about — injured by a roadside bomb or another combat-related injury. Others are accident victims or suffering from an illness.

Participants compete in seven sports: archery, cycling, basketball, shooting, swimming, track and field, and sitting volleyball. They are chosen proportionately from the various service branches.

In sitting volleyball, the net is low so that it touches the ground. And the players don't use wheelchairs, like in basketball — they sit on the floor and propel themselves however they can.

"Everybody's got different injuries," says Savage Margraf, 24, with the Marine Corps sitting volleyball team. "Some of the guys are double amputees, some are single amputees below the waist.

This is actually a sport where having legs is a disadvantage because they get in the way.

- Savage Margraf, a member of the Marine Corps sitting volleyball team
"This is actually a sport where having legs is a disadvantage because they get in the way," Margraf says. She is one of the few team members who still has both arms and legs.

Margraf suffers from traumatic brain injury (TBI). She says doctors attribute her TBI to two bad falls she took while serving in Iraq. One was from a watch tower on the Syrian border.

"I was helping get a 50-[caliber] barrel down — it's a machine gun," Margraf explains. "We had to change out the barrels because there was a sand storm. As I was coming down the stair, the second stair from the top broke and I fell."

Now Margraf says she has trouble with her vision. She was medically retired from the military in 2008 at 21 years old. Many of those participating in the Warrior Games are young.

Teammate Jese Schag, 21, had his right leg amputated after a motorcycle accident in 2009. He played sitting volleyball in the first Warrior Games last year.

"It's all about speed, and you've got to have good hands," Schag says. "You've got to be able to react — put your hands on the floor and then bring them up to get the ball."

Margraf says the competition is fun, but she's really here for inspiration.

"We have a swimmer who is a double amputee and blind," Margraf says. "How can you not come to this and leave with some sort of motivation and know that there are people that are way worse than you and they are trying?"

The Defense Department and the U.S. Olympic Committee organize the Warrior Games. Opening ceremonies were Monday. The sitting volleyball finals will wrap up the competition Saturday.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A double amputee who scaled summit of Everest

Dibeyendu Ganguly, May 6, 2011, 12.57am ISTTags:Mark Inglis|ICICI Bank Ltd.

Four o'clock in the afternoon on a hot summer's day and I'm to meet Mark Inglis — wine maker, motivational speaker, author, first double amputee to climb Mount Everest — at the CafĂ© Coffee Day on Bandra's Carter Road sea face. I arrive early, optimistic of finding a table in the air conditioned interior, but that's not to be. When Mark arrives ten minutes later, with his agent in tow, I'm seated all hot and bothered outside, under a garden umbrella, fanning myself with a menu.

One of the advantages of coming early is that I'm positioned with maximum umbrella coverage, while the two New Zealanders have the sun on their faces. "It's so hot," I say by way of a conversation starter, adding "but an adventurer like you is probably used to it." "I'm more used to the cold actually," says Inglis, with a grin.

For those who don't know the story, Inglis was trapped in a cave for eleven days while attempting to climb Mount Cook, New Zealand's highest peak. He was eventually rescued, but both his legs were so badly frostbitten that they had to be amputated below the knee. Twenty years later, at the age of 43, Inglis returned to Mount Cook and conquered the summit. The climb was documented in a film titled No Mean Feat: The Mark Inglis Story. Four years later, he went on to climb Mount Everest, and this time the dramatic and somewhat controversial (more on that later) event was captured in a documentary titled Everest: Beyond The Limit.

Continue Story click here.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A neuro-engineer’s call to arms

Our prosthetics aren’t quite as good as Luke Skywalker’s — but they’re getting there [Image Credit AdamSelwood]

By Katie Palmer | Posted April 22, 2011
Posted in: Physical Science

Attached at the hip, your body and you do everything together, silently communicating with only the slightest misunderstandings. You and your body make tacit agreements to type on a keyboard, jerk away from a hot stove or reach toward a light switch in the dark, and recognition of your teamwork comes only as an afterthought. It’s likely the closest relationship you’ll ever have.
But sometimes that relationship goes sour. Like a two-timing boyfriend, your body can be supremely deceitful. Things fall apart: With loss of limb, paths of communication get shut down, and what was once a strong partnership can turn into a daily battle against pain from an imaginary appendage. Healthy bodies can deceive too. The “rubber hand illusion,” in which your hand, hidden behind a screen, and a visible rubber hand are stroked simultaneously, convinces able-bodied people that an inanimate hunk of rubber belongs to them. When a hammer aims to strike the rubber appendage, subjects recoil as if their own fingers were in danger.

We usually think about our physical identity in terms of where our body starts and ends, says Shaun Gallagher, a cognitive scientist at the University of Central Florida and author of the book How the Body Shapes the Mind. “But it turns out that it’s very fragile, that sense of identity, and you can do all sorts of interesting things with it.”

One of those interesting things is happening at Northwestern University, where advances in prosthetic limbs have demonstrated the enormous flexibility of the connection between brain and body — and how that flexibility can be manipulated to create the next generation of motorized prosthetics. Their thought-controlled prosthetics challenge the conventional sense of “me,” asking where the boundaries of human embodiment truly lie. Are we simply flesh and bone, or are we what we interact with?

In February, Northwestern’s Todd Kuiken described a process called targeted reinnervation at a symposium for the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science conference. Kuiken, the director of the Neural Engineering Center for Artificial Limbs at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, pioneered the process, which allows amputees to control their prosthetic arms with amazing dexterity. You can watch videos of Kuiken’s patients moving heavy hammers and picking up crackers without leaving a crumbly mess. What’s more, the patients achieve this mastery of their artificial arms merely by thinking about moving them.

To accomplish this feat, a doctor first severs the nerves leading to the patient’s chest muscles, or another nearby muscle set. Then, the nerves that previously led to the patient’s arm — the ones that now are truncated at the arm’s stump — are redirected and attached to the chest muscles. These nerves are still capable of sending signals. When a patient thinks about bending his elbow, the nerves to those muscles still fire, but instead of finding themselves at a dead end, they wind up in the chest, stimulating electrodes implanted above their pruned ends. The electrodes control the movement of the motorized prosthesis strapped to the patient’s torso, and the artificial elbow bends.

While this is a remarkable advance in itself, it still leaves amputees unable to feel what they touch; targeted reinnervation patients have to watch their prosthetic arm carefully in order to make sure that it’s actually grasping an object. That may be about to change, though.

Recently, Kuiken’s team has found that sensory nerves for the arm (in addition to the original motor nerves) can be redirected to skin elsewhere on the body. A rig can be devised in which touch sensors on the prosthetic arm send signals to a motorized device that crawls across the reinnervated skin. The device pokes the appropriate sensory nerves with a plunger, allowing the patient to feel what he — or the prosthetic arm — is touching. And just like in the rubber hand illusion, that sense of touch can trick amputees into embodying the external limb.

This development points toward prostheses that are ever more like natural, biological limbs. Depending on your generation’s brand of fantasy, it’s now reasonable to imagine amputees walking around with prosthetic hands like Luke Skywalker or Peter Pettigrew. But there are still several steps to be taken before these fictions become a reality, before amputees can truly become one with their artificial limbs.

One of the remaining barriers to total integration of prosthetic limbs is the seemingly simple ability to know our bodies, a phenomenon known as proprioception. “Right now, amputees have to depend entirely on their vision to know where their limb is,” says neuroscientist Paul Marasco, one of Todd Kuiken’s collaborators at Northwestern. “Vision is not really a sense that’s set up for that.”

Proprioception is an innate sense — of the angle of a quizzically cocked head, the speed of fluttering jazz hands, or the bend of our knees climbing stairs in the dark. Experts separate our proprioceptive sense into two categories: the kinesthetic (the motion of our bodies) and the positional (the location of our body parts). It’s one of the most profoundly under appreciated aspects of our consciousness. And it is precisely because we take proprioception for granted that it is so difficult to untangle.

“Proprioception is really not so well understood — how it’s operating, what it’s doing,” says Marasco. His current research is teasing apart how our sense of limb position and movement is organized in our brains, starting with mapping those neural connections in mice.

It’s difficult to segment proprioception into its component neural parts when the position and motion of our bodies seem so fluid. Somehow, our brains compile information about the length of a muscle, the stretching of skin or the angle of a joint and translate it into a comprehensive sense of being.

That difficulty is compounded by the sheer number of positions that our body can assume. There are 27 points of articulation in an arm, notes Amy Blank, a PhD candidate at Johns Hopkins University who has done experiments to determine just how essential proprioception is to the functioning of a prosthetic limb. Understanding feedback on the position and movement of all those points will be an extremely challenging task. “In some ways I feel fortunate that I’m not working on the biology side as much,” said Blank, whose research focuses on robotics.

As a better biological understanding of proprioception emerges, researchers hope to develop prosthetic limbs that can stimulate nerves to restore a sense of position and movement — and thereby become increasingly united with the wearer’s self image. And if amputees can call a prosthesis part of their bodies, what’s limiting the rest of us to our heads, shoulders, knees and toes? Weirdly, the cars that we drive or the computers that we use could be as much a part of our bodies as these prostheses soon will be.

Our bodies will certainly be able to adapt to proprioceptive prosthetics, says Marasco, who is continually astounded by patients’ accommodation of the new limbs. “But our ability to build a machine that can do all the things that our hand can do is a different story,” he says. The next generation of prostheses will be limited not by our bodies’ nearly infinite plasticity, but by our engineering capabilities.