POA Client Luis Alberto Arias, AK Amputee, traveled from Colombia to see us

POA sees clients from all over the world, which is how Luis Alberto Arias learned of us. After recovering from an above knee amputation due to complications from an arterial thrombosis, he began to research and learn about different prosthetic technologies. In this search, Luis Alberto met María García, the last victim found after the 2003 El Nogal Club bombing. Maria, a long-time POA client, referred him to us. The following article, published in Jet-Set magazine (Colombia’s equivalent to Us Magazine in the United States) contains photos of Luis Alberto and his family throughout his treatment at our facility: Click Here To View Article

Charlie Learns to Walk on Two Prosthetic Legs – with a Little Help from his Friends

Four-year-old Charlie – recently adopted from China and missing both legs above the knee since birth – arrived at POA last month, eager to be fit with his very first set of prosthetic legs. While his check sockets were being fabricated, we introduced him to his new prosthetic “parts.” Charlie was fascinated with the feet and knees, and couldn’t wait to go to the store to pick out some shoes! “Mine,” he declared, as he held a small prosthetic foot to his cheek.

We asked Bella and her family if she could stop by and give Charlie a few pointers. Bella, age 7, was also born in China missing her legs above the knee. Ever since we fit Bella with her first legs when she was 3 years old, she has been unstoppable – running, jumping, playing tag with her siblings – you name it! When she learned that Charlie was also a bilateral congenital amputee, Bella couldn’t wait to meet him! She had never met another child with the same level of amputations before.

As Bella walked into the room, Charlie’s eyes got bigger. He motioned for her to sit down and looked at her legs, her feet, and her “little” hand. “Like me,” he exclaimed, and gave Bella a great big hug. The two quickly formed a close bond. Bella was there for Charlie’s first steps, helped him learn to get up on a chair, and from sitting on the floor to standing. “Bend and lock,” Bella instructed Charlie as he learned to walk in the parallel walks. “Bend Lock,” Charlie repeated.

By the end of the day, Charlie was well on his way to walking independently. That was when he made another connection. Regas Woods, a paralympic athlete who was also born missing both legs above the knee, was across the room discussing some adjustments he wanted to make on his running legs. Regas was wearing long pants so Charlie didn’t know he was an amputee. We invited him over to meet Charlie and said “look, he has two feet and two knees like you!” Charlie excitedly pulled up Regas’ pant legs and hugged him tight. Then he asked if we could take their photo. Charlie was beaming from ear to ear as he posed with his super hero. For the first time in his life he met two people “just like him,” and you could see the incredible instant connection they had. What an amazing day at POA. We are so blessed to have so many wonderful and caring clients who truly make a difference in the lives of others.

Charlie returned home to practice his walking, and his mom reports he is now beginning to walk independently. We have no doubt he’ll be back very soon to be fit with running legs, and Bella promises to be right there to show him how it’s done!
#NoBoundaries #POAkids

Dave Klar, AK Amputee: Exploring and Conquering New Heights

When Dave Klar lost his leg above the knee in August 2014, he feared that he had lost everything. Dave was working as an apprentice electrician at the time of the accident, and was unable to return to the job. He was also passionate about the outdoors, and heavily involved in BMX biking. The thought of losing the ability to participate in the things he loved was stevedavedevastating. Depressed, broke and scared, he searched the internet for support and guidance. That’s where he found Steve Chamberland, founder and president of 50legs.org, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping amputees in need. Dave reached out to Steve and within a matter of weeks, arrangements were made to bring him from Ohio to POA in Orlando to be fit with a prosthetic leg that would allow him to get back to his active life.

Once he was back up on two legs, things changed quickly for Dave. He had hope again. He dedicated his time and energy to rehab and giving back to the 50Legs organization that he felt had given him his life back. Dave went on camping trips with his dog, pushing himself to the limits.

During Dave’s next trip to POA, Ronnie Dickson, CP, a world-class above knee amputee climber, introduced him to climbing. He really connected with the sport, and soon was exploring the outdoors again, looking for new challenges. During this time he saw a post on 50Legs facebook page that was of interest to him. It was about daveiceJeff Bryan, a below-knee amputee fireman and avid climber who lives in Colorado. Jeff had contacted 50Legs for help in finding a source to make him a better fitting prosthesis, and they flew him out to POA. Jeff, a big time outdoor sportsman, returned home with a leg to wear for duty at the fire department and another for pursuing his sports interests, one of which happens to be ice climbing. Dave was intrigued by the photos Jeff posted on the 50legs page, and expressed an interest in trying it. The two of them started communicating and soon Dave was on his way to Colorado where Jeff showed him the ropes. That opened up a whole new world to Dave.

daveklartree Last weekend, Dave met Ronnie in Tennessee and learned to do some bouldering (see video below). Strong and confident, Dave has come full circle since the accident that took his leg over two years ago. Although he still struggles in many aspects of his life, in many ways he is stronger and much more appreciative of all its possibilities.

In a recent Facebook post, Dave reflected on his life over the past few years: “As 2 years pass after my traumatic amputation from a #motorcycle accident that was no fault of my own, I think about what I may want. After riding to Yellowstone national park on my motorcycle back in 2010 I thought man I gotta get off the road and hike! So I started doing just that. Hiking as an amputee to me is pretty difficult but it’s doable. It’s nice to have people who support me that walk in the same shoe as me so to speak haha. When you fall you get up and do it again!” #noboundaries

Above Knee Amputee Colin Cook Competing in 2016 Stance ISA World Surfing Championship

colinsurfIn  October 2015, POA client Colin Cook lost his leg above the knee to a shark while surfing in Hawaii. All goals have obstacles to overcome. We all have things standing in our way. They can often seem insurmountable, but with enough perseverance we can usually get around them. Over the past year, Colin has put a tremendous amount of effort into his rehab and it has really paid off. This week, strong and confident, he will be competing in the ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship in La Jolla, California! (see following link) 2016 Stance ISA World Adaptive Surfing Championship

POA Client Stories: Meet Mark Daignault, BK Amputee

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Fifty-nine-year-old Mark Daignault lost his leg below the knee in 1981 as the result of a motorcycle accident. For 26 years he suffered pain and sores, only able to walk short distances with a cane before sitting down to rest. “All that time I believed that this agony was an amputee’s way of life,” says Mark. “I did not realize that all the pain and sores were due simply to old technology; after all, I thought I was seeing the best prosthetic providers I could find.”

It was by chance that Mark found himself at POA. His long-time prosthetist had passed away and he needed a part for his leg. “Upon my first conversation with Stan he indicated to me that he’d build me a leg that would change my life,” Mark remembered. “He also told me that my sores would go away. I took those statements with a grain of salt, but want you to know that everything he promised me has come true.”

“I have not experienced a single sore since being fitted with that prosthesis, seven years ago. I now truly enjoy playing my favorite sport of golf without getting exhausted after just nine holes. I can play 18, 27, 36 holes of golf without effort and am ready the next morning to go right back out and play again. I even played 47 holes the other day, a feat two-legged golfers don’t even attempt. Chores around my home that I used to dread are now simple. I can literally walk forever without pain and I have no idea where all my canes are. There really isn’t anything I cannot accomplish now.”

“The atmosphere of the POA office, because of Stan and his staff, is one of warmth, kindness, respect and understanding. I thank everyone at POA for truly changing my life and allowing me to be capable of anything I wish to do in life. I wish that all amputees would make the life changing appointment to see Stan and his staff at POA.”

Mark lives in Deltona, Florida, enjoying life to the fullest with his wife and three daughters.

#NoBoundaries

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Here is a video Mark made during fitting process for the  TaiLor Made prosthetic foot he beta tested in 2014 and continues to enjoy. https://www.facebook.com/mark.daignault.7/videos/798261600213097/

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POA Kids Love Their “Mr. Stan!”

Bella, Iz, and Nico helped Mr. Stan welcome Lulu to POA and showed her all their *abilities*. #NoBoundaries here! Bella is a bilateral above knee amputee (PFFD), Iz is a bone cancer survivor with a Van Ness rotationplasty amputation, and Nico is missing both arms above the elbow. We will be making an above knee prosthesis for Lulu which will actually be her “good” leg while she is undergoing limb lengthening surgery on her other leg. Whatever the reason for or type of amputation, we’re committed to helping all our POA kids live fun and active lives! #poakidsrock #lovethem

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POA Client Conner, Bilateral AK (PFFD) Amputee Walks for First Time Ever!

Conner, born with a condition that affected the development of his legs and hips (PFFD), had never been able to walk successfully on prosthetic legs. He stayed active by playing wheelchair tennis and used short prosthetic sockets attached directly to the feet (called “stubbies”) to get around. One of our POA clients, a physician who has played wheelchair tennis with Conner, told him about our experience and success with many PFFD amputees using new technology – and now he is one of them!
Exactly one week after taking his first steps ever on full prosthetic legs, Conner returned home walking tall!

POA Client Jim Ramage, AK/BK Amputee

Long-time POA client Jim Ramage and his lovely wife, Deb, pose for a photo with Roger before returning home to Pennsylvania after a week at POA. A bilateral (AK/BK) amputee, Jim does the type of difficult manual labor that most able-bodied men couldn’t do – heavy equipment repair and welding. To do this job as an amputee, Jim says he simply requires two things – the right attitude and the right prostheses.

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Amputee Keith Severson plays on inline hockey league  #noboundaries

Message and pics from POA client Keith Severson… “Here are a few pictures from my inline hockey league. Always fun to see the other team players see me take off my leg after a game and realize the guy who scored a couple goals is missing a leg. Thanks to the POA team and to Steve Chamberland of 50legs.org! He was a huge reason I was able to get out to POA. Without his assistance I would still be in my old set up not getting to play the sports I love.” #noboundaries hockey 1 hockey2 hockey3 hockey4 hockey5 hockey6

Meet Hernan Knob of Colombia, and read his incredible story of survival, 10/23/2013

The time was 3:30 am on June 5, 1993, in Pereira, Colombia. Hernan Knob, then a 22-year-old college student, had just finished a shift at a popular night club when he heard a knock at the door. As Hernan turned the knob and opened the door he was met by a blinding light and tremendous explosion. What happened next  forever changed the path of his life.

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A LITTLE HISTORY OF MY LIFE

By Hernan Knob (revised/edited by Karen Hughes)

From childhood I always knew what I wanted to be when I grew up… then, I started to follow the path that would lead me to it. There were a few obstacles along the way, but these difficulties never stopped me.

It was clear that football (soccer) was my favorite sport. I played a little more than five hours a day. As I grew up, I knew I would soon have other responsibilities, and the time to pursue my dream of playing major championships and even become a tournament champion was diminishing. Still, football remained my passion.

My mother was adamant that I attend school and concentrate on my studies.  I was an excellent student, and quickly realized that the secret of getting good grades was to be attentive in class and do my homework.  This strategy helped me excel in my classes, and likewise I realized that I liked my teachers and enjoyed learning from them. However, when I became a teenager I began to like other things and my studies took second place behind football.

When I was 15 years old, my brother introduced me to what would become another passion–salsa dancing. It was more out of curiosity that I learned to dance salsa, and my brother taught me every time he learned new steps. In less than six months my dancing made me a popular kid, and my school friends always wanted me to dance and teach them steps. The girls wanted to dance with me, and that is how I met my first girlfriend.

My mother introduced me to many things in life, including faith in God and attending church. I grew up Catholic and always tried to follow the principles that she taught me.

I  had the good fortune of attending one of the best public schools in Bogotá and the country. I chose to study industrial chemistry, and dreamed of being a scientist in a laboratory inventing something new.

After finishing high school, knowing that I wanted to continue studying chemistry, I applied for college and was accepted by a public university away from my home in a city called Pereira. I started my studies in 1990, but duty to my country called me into compulsory military service. The time I spent in the service was a meaningful experience which I learned a lot from.

18 months later, I returned to the university, hoping to finish my studies in chemistry. The economic situation was not good, and I had to find a job. My best friend helped me find work as a DJ at a bar he also worked at.

On 5 June 1993, working a normal night, we finished our work at about 3:30 am, and were about to receive payment of our wages. My friend, who by that time was the business administrator who together with the accountant made the payments, paid me first and told me to rest for a few hours because it was finals week and in a few hours I would need to be back to my studies.  However I was stubborn, and decided to wait for him to finish so we could go home and study together.

A few minutes later we heard someone knocking at the door of the bar, and when I opened it I was greeted by a loud explosion.  The walls fell down on me, like they were part of the roof, and I was so confused. The first thing that came to mind was that they were going to kill everyone in the bar because by this time the country suffered a war between drug cartels and there were many attacks in Pereira. I started yelling at people inside to take shelter and to remove the debris that had fallen on me. Once I was up I tried to run outside but I fell to the floor. I tried many more times, but I always went to the floor. I managed to drag myself and made it a few feet where I met my friend, who comforted me a little and I fell asleep in her lap and began to dream.

My dream was both strange and pleasant; while walking through a vast hallway I felt a rush of exhilaration and a bright light shone. There were pictures on the wall, and when I got to the last one I experienced great sadness. The picture showed me in the disaster, and the pain in my legs was so strong. I cried as I realized I could not play football again and I desperately wanted to wake up from the nightmare.

When I woke up I immediately gave thanks to God for ending the nightmare, but a second later I realized it was not a nightmare and was my real life. They were pulling me out of the club and all I wanted was something for the pain. I thought I had broken my leg and it hurt me to my soul. I had prepared for more than seven months for a great football event –the University National Games. Despite my pain, I was confident that the hospital would put my leg in a cast and I’d be walking and possibly competing again soon.

In the hospital emergency room my thoughts were complex. The pain was intense and sadness overwhelmed me as it became clear I may not play the championship. My mind did not allow me to understand many things, and finally, after asking all the nurses for something to stop the pain, they put a mask on my face and my endless pain finally ceased.

I awoke in the recovery room, feeling a heaviness in my body and a great thirst. As I tried to move, I heard a nurse tell me that I was recovering from surgery and I should not try.  I was obedient for a moment, but felt the need to assess my injuries.  I started with my hands and arms. I saw many cuts and abrasions and IV tubes, as well as other lines connected to the screens, monitoring my vitals.  But the minute I tried to move my legs, the right one did not respond. I thought that perhaps it was because I was very tired and weak. Then I pulled away the sheet that covered my missing leg, and upon seeing it, I fell into a panic.  Then I felt intense anger and began shouting and asking why they cut the leg. I also blamed God for giving me this punishment. I did not understand. I had never been a bad person, I was obedient to my parents and the church. Why me?

After the shock wore off I began thinking about my future. Since I could no longer play football, perhaps I’d take up chess. I also considered becoming a scientist so I could invent a leg that would let me walk and dance again.
At this time I made changes in my life and career plan. I never lost the desire to live, and was optimistic about my future, always hoping for the best.

After almost nine months of hospitalization, I tried to return to my studies, but they were interrupted at least twice a year for surgeries necessary to save my remaining leg. But the surgeries were ultimately unsuccessful, and I made the decision to amputate. The amputation was performed in 2001, and I began the process of learning to adapt to living my life without legs. I relied on my wheelchair for everything.

In the years since this unfortunate accident, God has blessed me with a magnificent wife and a beautiful daughter who makes me proud every day. I became a public school teacher and I teach math and computer science to children and adolescents. I am also a volunteer for an organization that supports people with physical disabilities.

In 2009, my life changed once again. The prostheses I was using allowed me to walk, but caused great pain and wounds that would not heal. Through the efforts of many people who ultimately brought me to POA, I managed to get my quality of life back. I no longer had to suffer with wounds and use crutches to walk. I returned home in comfortable prostheses which allow me to walk comfortably with the help of a small cane. I returned to my family and students a stronger man, no longer plagued with health problems. I thank Stan, John, and the staff at POA for giving me a new life by providing me with the prosthetics that enable me to give more to my family and students. God is good.

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