Saturday, June 29, 2013

my cool prosthetics job

Hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day of June. How'd that happen?! And Tuesday will be the 6-month mark of when I started working at Walter Reed. Since my last post almost 4 weeks ago, I've been busy with work as usual, and at the same time actually started to train for triathlons again. On a much smaller scale of course. Current goal is to hit 10 hours of training each week, and I'm not quite at 9 yet. But I am swimming or biking or running almost every day, and started biking to work instead of walking.

While I had said I was re-inspired by the girl I used to be, the one who dared to dream big dreams, I'm honestly more inspired by the patients I'm working with. I have a few who are triathlon newbies or aspiring triathletes and how can you not get an extra kick of motivation when you work with people missing one or both legs that want to get into the same swim/bike/run craziness that you have loved for the last 13 years? (Whoa. I know. I can't believe I've been a triathlete for that long either.)

A couple weekends ago I went up to NYC for the Challenged Athletes Foundation running clinic, which is my 3rd consecutive year going. I got to reconnect with my good friends Sarah Reinertsen, who I had met at Wildflower back in 2004 before she got into Ironmans and before I started prosthetics school, and Carolina V, who was my best friend in Dallas when I was doing my orthotics residency back in 2006 and had just gotten recruited as a "pro development athlete" for teamTBB.

Carolina was my running buddy in Dallas, and now lives in Manhattan. We went on a 9-mile run through her 'hood in the morning before showing the amputees how it's done. It's always fun to bring someone outside the prosthetics world and give them a glimpse of the stuff I see every day. It's something I'm used to now, but I don't ever stop thinking how amazing these athletes are!

I was chief support crew for my patient Lisa, who I had just fit for her first running leg, and it was pretty amazing having her take her first running steps since she was in high school over 25 years ago! She will be doing her first sprint tri in August, the Irongirl Columbia race which is local to here.

And now for some other cool legs we get to play with at Walter Reed...because I know you're curious!

Super shock absorbing legs for jumping out of airplanes and/or hard-core motocross and/or mountain biking:

My first attempt at a cycling-specific foot for one of my triathletes:

There was also the external-fixator protector for one of my sled hockey guys:

And then the so-realistic-it's-creepy ones:

One of the big things I talk to with my patients are their goals. I ask:
  • What are your goals?
  • What activities did you used to do that you'd like to get back to?
  • What have you not done before but want to try?
  • Is there anything about your prosthesis (or prostheses, plural) that is limiting you from achieving your goals, and how I can make it better?
In essence, it's basically my job to troubleshoot the prosthetic socket and components in order to keep them from limiting the patient's functional potential. Of course, there are sometimes other health issues going on that are keeping them from their goals, but I find that those with great attitudes and high motivation levels do the best!

Another cool thing to check out, is this video that the occupational therapy department at Walter Reed put together with some of our patients. It's very inspirational, although the first 3mins are a bit slow. Keep watching!

So, yeah, work is cool! I'm enjoying it and happy I was able to let go of the past so I could move onto this next phase in my life, which is a ton more rewarding than the pro triathlon thing. More on my own new goals coming soon...

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