HOW I FOUND MY RHYTHM WHEN THE MUSIC STOPPED

At a time in everyone’s life, we come to find ourselves in a situation where the music stops, and we must go on.  The unfortunate truth about life is that the unexpected will happen. Some of us learn from it, some of us change because of it and some of us find our life’s calling because of it. The latter was the case for me.  After our dad picked us up from middle school, we spent that afternoon like we had every afternoon that month. We went to the oncology unit at the hospital, where my brother was admitted.

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THE MAN IN A BLUE SARONG

I remember him. I remember the man in the dark blue sarong the same way I remember the lines on back of my own hand. He was hunched over next to a column on a dirty platform at a railway station in Calcutta, India in the middle of the harsh summer sun. His hands were withered, his fingers and toes looked like tiny nubs, and he was completely malnourished and alone. He had opaque blue eyes, as if fog had taken place of his irises and pupils.

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PATIENT “OWNERSHIP”

I studied insects in college; my favorite insects were the bees (I found them diligent and so helpful to humankind).  One of my favorite classes was about medical diseases caused by insects. My professors noticed my interest in the medical side of things and connected me with a professor who did clinical research. Our work focused on a clinical trial for children with intractable epilepsy and exposed me early on to patient care and patients.

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always necessary for the family physician to know all of the intricate parts of the prosthetic technology, but it certainly helps for them to know the reason for use and the potential benefits. Many of the subsequent prescriptions are coming from the family doctor, so having them involved as soon as possible is of great benefit.


Outcomes and goals play a big role in this process. Having clear-cut and objective goals to work toward can have great benefits. It may that be the patient wants to one day run a 5K race, or it could be that they simply want to walk out to their mailbox or stand to fix dinner for their family. Taking it one step at a time, increasing the goals as they go, is imperative.


At times, there will be some form of case manager through insurance and/or workers’ comp. Hi-Tech’s staff connects with them so we can align our goals for the patient. Working and communicating with the case managers, we can be more effective with care. When patients become more comfortable communicating their own thoughts and needs with their case manager, this proactive approach can also lead to greater opportunity for success.


There is also a psychological component to life after amputation. Can I go out on a date again? How do I overcome any possible body image issues I may have? Will I be able to return to my job and provide for my family?  Many successful outcomes occur when the amputee realizes they are not “on an island.” It can seem like they may be the only one in the world going through this, when in fact they are part of a group numbering in the millions.  Much of the necessary support and encouragement for the new amputee is found through mentorship. Groups like The Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) serve as a fantastic resource, being such a large and influential organization.  One of the most important factors in acceptance and progress is finding the commonality among amputees. Sometimes clinical psychology and counseling outside the family is necessary, but typically mentorship and community provides the most positive outcomes.  Hi-Tech can connect patients with peer visits and mentoring from experienced and successful amputees.


Being proactive and well informed allows the amputee patient to better claim ownership of their new life circumstances. It’s up to all of us to advocate for each amputee.  Hi-Tech’s role in this process reaches far beyond designing, fabricating and fitting the best possible prosthesis for each patient.  Having a supportive group of professionals, family and friends surrounding the amputee will always be vital. We at Hi-Tech Artificial Limbs, Inc., will always be very proud to be a part of this team.

The journey a new amputee takes can be long and difficult to navigate. The staff at Hi-Tech Artificial Limbs, Inc., understands that process.  Our philosophy is a simple one: we strive to be an ongoing partner in our patient’s life as an amputee and work with the entirety of their healthcare team, from beginning to end, to produce the best possible outcomes.


Many times, an amputation is performed as a result of an underlying health problem.  In those cases, an orthopedic or vascular surgeon determines amputation is necessary.  Although most patient’s focus at this point is on the surgery itself, a consultation with a prosthetist at this time can be extremely beneficial. Hi- Tech offers free pre-amputation consultations to discuss the steps that will be taking place. Also, physical and occupational therapists get involved sometimes before, and definitely after surgery, working with the patient to develop core strength, balance, and all of the motor skills necessary to get back to a functional, normal life.


Here at Hi-Tech, we often tell our new amputees: “We’ll begin when you’re ready. We’ll meet and simply talk as many times as you need to, and that’s fine.” Pressing amputees to be ready when they’re not is counterproductive. We are careful to not casually overlook the body and social issues that undeniably change with amputation. It’s healthiest when the amputee can find peace and encouragement through interaction and information from their rehab team.  It is at this point when the patient may be able to look forward… not backward.

BY HI-TECH ARTIFICIAL LIMBS

Hi-Tech will conduct a post amputation consultation and thorough evaluation of each amputee.  A patient should expect that evaluation to involve many aspects their overall health, including level of amputation, strength, activity levels and goals. For example, if a person just lost their leg, then the health and strength of the remaining leg has now become that much more important.


In most cases, we will provide compression garments “shrinkers” to begin to shape the limb, reduce edema and increase circulation well before the prosthetic fabrication begins to insure the limb is healed, healthy and ready to be molded and measured. We provide the proper information and answer any and all questions the amputee and their family members may have to ease any apprehension about the somewhat unfamiliar process.  The amputee’s family and friends become a vital part of the rehab team as well. Many times, they provide the transportation for all initial visits. They are often in the room helping absorb information, and for most people this is not casual knowledge. When people have strong family support, their outcomes are typically better for these reasons.


When the surgeon finally releases the amputee to begin their rehabilitation, it’s advisable to get the family doctor informed and involved in this process. It is not

1641 Nicholasville Road, Lexington, KY, 40503

M-Th 8am-4:30pm, F 8am-3pm

www.hi-techartlimbs.com