Jill Takes Action To Regain Ability

Jill exhibiting strength and poise in her Infinite Socket.

Jill, from Pennsylvania, recounts how she persevered through years of surgeries and rehabilitation to finally regain her active lifestyle with the Infinite Socket TF.

“I’m an energetic person. I’m out and about every day doing as much activity as possible.  I love to get myself into anything active, whether it’s outdoor activities or competitive sports–I’ve always been that way.  Then, in 2009, I received a stress fracture to my left foot. The exact moment it happened is unclear, though we suspect it may have happened when I tripped in a parking lot one evening.  Surgery was needed to fix it, and the doctor did a full fusion on my foot. The fusion and all the hardware in my foot ultimately came apart, though I didn’t realize it at the time.  A few years later I couldn’t take the pain anymore and went to have a doctor look at it. In 2013, they tried to reconstruct it. The reconstruction did not go well, and infection set in.  All the hardware in my foot was removed to allow it to heal, but a year later the pain was worse, and my foot was deformed. By the end of 2016, I’d had twelve surgeries to try to save the foot to no avail.  In December of 2016, I became a below knee amputee.  

I got myself a prosthesis and was walking.  However, I was still having trouble and couldn’t figure out why I was in so much pain.  It turns out there was osteomyelitis in my tibia, and in 2017 I opted for a shorter amputation.  A year from then, the pain in my knee from osteomyelitis was still persistent. In April of 2018, I became an above the knee amputee and encountered a whole new set of challenges.  

Below-the-knee sockets had been simple for me.  I had a traditional transtibial socket, and within three months I was out jumping rope and other activities of that nature.  However, when I got my traditional above-the-knee socket, it was the most uncomfortable thing I had experienced in my entire life.  When I first put it on, my reaction was ‘you have got to be kidding me.’ It was limited, heavy and restrictive.  The brim was incredibly awkward in the crotch area and so bulky.  It made me feel really bad. I tried my best but felt that I could only be as good as the socket I had to work with, and the conventional did not work for me.  For many months it sat against my wall, and I was non-weight-bearing for an entire year. The rashes and the rubbing made the socket unwearable, and for months I’d go in once a week for adjustments and band-aid solutions to try and make it bearable.  If I do something I really full-on go for it, and I really tried to make it work. Even so, it just wasn’t usable, and I became really depressed.  

I decided I absolutely had to get walking to stop feeling bad for myself.  A support group I joined on Facebook connected me with LIM, and in April of 2019, I received my Infinite Socket TF.  This thing is absolutely amazing, and I only wish I’d found it sooner. There are so many positive things about the design that make such a difference.  It doesn’t dig into my thigh and groin area because of the low trim, and it’s lightweight as opposed to thick and heavy. The steps I’m taking aren’t restricted as they were in the conventional socket.  The word “breathable” comes to mind; I don’t feel as if my limb is encased in something hard and unnatural. Sitting is also much easier as I can loosen and tighten my socket with the ratchet strap at the top, which is also great for volume fluctuation.  The difference between the Infinite Socket and my old traditional socket is night and day. I’ve done more in the past few weeks than I’ve done in the past year. It made me feel good about myself again.” 

 

Clinician Spotlight: Patrick Kelley of Oakland O&P

The main draw of this industry is being able to get somebody up and walking again after they’ve had some sort of traumatic experience in their life.  Whether it be lower limb loss due to trauma or a disease, an ability is taken away from them. I like the sense of giving that back to patients.

 

Patrick, on the right, in front of Oakland O&P.

In 2002, I was fresh out of the military off of active duty Marine Corps and looking for a career that would be interesting and challenging. After making some phone calls, I ended up shadowing an orthotics and prosthetics company. From there, I started learning the industry from the fabrication side while working in the lab.  Eventually I ended up going to Northwestern, first for orthotics and then for prosthetics. Ultimately, I decided prosthetics was the way to go.

The main draw of this industry is being able to get somebody up and walking again after they’ve had some sort of traumatic experience in their life.  Whether it be lower limb loss due to trauma or a disease, an ability is taken away from them. I like the sense of giving that back to patients. Oakland Orthopedic Appliances is opening a new office location, which will allow for more patients to be reached.  We are aiming to target patient populations as needed, and up north is an underserved area.

Once patients are in the office, a lot of initial encounters really serve to lay groundwork for an ongoing relationship in addition to the assessment of the current clinical situation.  It’s worthwhile to get to know the patient, what their goals are for the future, how they see themselves as a prosthetic user. Really understanding how realistic the patient’s goals are and managing expectations while doing everything possible to get them there is so important.  In the prosthetics industry, your patients aren’t one time patients–you’re building a pretty intimate and long-lasting relationship together. That relationship is crucial in order to properly advocate for the patient’s needs. There’s a lot of conversations that need to be had in order to figure out what patient and practitioner feel would result in the optimal outcome, from choosing socket type to selecting the suspension and components.  

For the patients I’ve fit with LIM’s Infinite Sockets, I’ve been very happy with the outcomes.  I’ve had a great experience working with LIM from the beginning, and was a huge fan of the Infinite TF from the get-go.  Then there’s the transtibial socket which went through a redesign, and it has been vastly improved. It’s more aesthetically pleasing and less bulky; I have a few patients now on the new design who really love it.  The Infinite Socket is a great option to provide in our area and makes us stand out as providing a niche service. I can stand by the product. In general, technology in the prosthetics industry has advanced so much.  There’s new devices coming out every month to do different things or do to optimize current functions. The socket technologies and new materials being explored have incredible potential. LIM has been a part of that growth and is doing innovative design work.  

Chris Steps Up To Find A Better Fit

Chris, from Kentucky, shares how he went from being dissatisfied with his situation to finding a solution for himself in the form of the Infinite Socket TF.

On November 14th of 2014, I started the day at the gym as always.  As I was leaving to pick up my daughter, it struck me what a beautiful day it was.  I decided to go home and get my Camaro to make the most out of the drive in the pleasant weather.  Once I got going, I went a little faster than I should have down the winding road and hit a spot that flung the vehicle into the guardrail. About forty feet of guardrail went in through the headlight and exited the tail end of the car. As the metal railing tore through, it took my leg with it. I stayed conscious through all of it until I flatlined in the helicopter and woke up at the University of Kentucky hospital a few days later.  Once I came to, I was told I might never walk unassisted again.

The first two years of recovery were frustrating. Finding the medical support I needed was a nightmare. Here in eastern Kentucky, it seems like we only have general medicine doctors. They know how to help with your typical ailments like the common cold or things of that nature, but I found they didn’t have a good understanding of my amputation. I decided to take matters into my own hands and did a lot of research personally. The electronic elevated vacuum system I was on just wasn’t working well for me; I didn’t have anything but issues with it.  It was always breaking seal, losing suction and falling off, as well as being uncomfortable on the back of my leg. I also wanted to be able to go to the gym and bulk up without it ruining my socket. The desire to have a socket that moved and changed with my residual limb is what got me started on the search that led to LIM.

I talked with my prosthetist at Kenney Orthopedics and got fit with my Infinite Socket. It took me about two days to get the new socket adjusted to accommodate my needs, and then it was good to go!  I literally couldn’t do anything until I got the LIM socket. The previous summer I had tried to hike to a waterfall and couldn’t walk the 6/10ths of a mile, but once I got my Infinite Socket I walked the whole way.  It made that much of a difference. My family lives in one of the best areas for rock hunting, some of the rarest agates in the world are found around here, and we get out and hike when I’m able. The convenience of the Infinite Socket allows that. If it becomes loose throughout the day, I can adjust it. It also allows my hip to flex, which in turn, allows for more walking. Honestly, the socket was the turning point in my healing process. I was in absolute misery, and then the Infinite Socket changed everything.

Premier Partner Q&A: Anthony Tufano of Mutual Orthopedics

Anthony Tufano, CP, is the president of Mutual Orthopedics.  He strives to achieve an optimal outcome for every individual patient by combining new technologies with the traditions that have made his long-standing practice a success.

 

Infinite Socket, Mutual Orthopedics
Mutual Orthopedics CP Anthony Tufano with Infinite Socket TF patient

What brought you into the Orthotics and Prosthetics industry?

My practice is third generation.  First was my great-uncle in 1957, then my father, and now myself.  What is now Mutual Orthopedics was officially founded by my father in 1978, and I took over in 2002.  It is one of the oldest companies in the Long Island area. Some of our patients have been with us for forty years.  We have expanded to two offices, one in Brooklyn and one in Long Island, with a sizable prosthetics and orthotics laboratory at the Long Island location.

 

How have you seen the industry change over the course of your career in prosthetics?

The uptake in technology alone has changed the way we practice.  Today, we have access to a whole slew of technology that we did not have previously. We as prosthetists can make people much more comfortable than we could years ago. A while ago, everyone had a standard prosthesis.  That was the challenge back then. It was a lot easier to run the business before, but the technology wasn’t there. Currently, the struggles of operating a practice are related to the changing environment of health care, rather than technological limitations.  Prosthetists are now better able to understand patient needs and fulfill many more of their dreams due to those advancements. As a prosthetist, you want to make your patients more comfortable than they were when they came in. You want them to be able to do things they haven’t been able to do before and to maximize the potential that they have.  The best thing for me to see is a patient coming back after they’ve gotten their prosthesis with parts worn out because they’ve been using it so much.

 

Mutual Orthopedics, Infinite Socket TT-S
Mutual Orthopedics CP Anthony Tufano with Infinite Socket TT-S patient

Can you describe the working relationship you’ve had with LIM Innovations?

I have a long-standing patient who has been with Mutual Orthopedics since the 80s.  About three years ago, he came to me wanting to be fit with the Infinite Socket. After meeting with Geoff, a representative from LIM, we set the process in motion and got the patient fitted. The Infinite Socket is fun to fit, and getting it just right for the patient is a great experience.  Once the fit is flawless, it’s a slam dunk. The appeal of working with LIM is they evolve with you and listen to the input of the prosthetist. It is a collaborative process. Like any product, it has the occasional pitfall now and then, but LIM works efficiently with the clinician to find the optimal resolution.

What would you say are the benefits of the Infinite Socket versus a conventional socket?

In my opinion, the beauty of the Infinite Socket is the adjustability.  It allows for the socket to evolve on a continuous basis along with the patient’s residual limb.  I can get patients to the next level of comfort by tweaking and adjusting to accommodate fluctuations in volume.  The comfort of sitting that the Infinite Socket provides is a huge factor for patients as well. The flexible struts are a draw as well; having something that isn’t rigid when a patient is ambulating on it is a big deal. The Infinite Socket permits a dynamic fitting as opposed to a static one. I love the product.