Lifting Weight and Limitations

We welcomed Enrique Alvarez to the Infinite Socket family back in August. Enrique had always lived an active lifestyle, varying from bodybuilding to motorcycle riding, and surfing. Enrique shares his story exclusively for the first time, and proves that with the right mindset you can overcome any challenge by literally lifting it out of your way.

In November 1995 I went out to see my friend’s band play at a local nightclub. That night changed my life forever. Had I known that it would alter the ways I did things like surfing, snowboarding, motorcycle riding, and even the little things we take for granted like running, biking and climbing, I would have gladly stayed at home. Next thing I know I was in an ambulance en route to the hospital, bleeding out and barely alive with a stab wound to the femoral artery and vein.

The doctors tried to treat it and save the limb but compartmental damage to the calf and tibialis muscles was too much. The lack of oxygen due to blood loss and necrosis of the tissue, which became infected resulted in amputation before it spread further throughout my blood stream. I hesitated and declined to get my leg removed, it was a surreal and scary experience; the thought of your life changing and the persistent battle in my mind of “why me? What did I really do to deserve this?” After a couple of days of fevers and pain I gave in and they amputated below the knee. Unfortunately, the infection had spread further than they previously had thought and they were forced to cut at the knee. I was finally released after 3 and a half weeks in the hospital. This is when the real challenges began, both emotionally and physically.

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Adjusting to life as an amputee was challenging: having to learn to be my new self again, learning to perfect and customize movements I often took for granted, and how to develop stability in a simple walk. I was fortunate enough to adapt quickly, becoming comfortable with these new process in my life as well as becoming comfortable in myself, I was determined to regain the strength to enjoy what I enjoyed so much as an abled bodied person. I pushed my physical, mental and emotional boundaries. Doing new things, meeting different people, constantly fighting to overcome my self doubts.

Frequent trips to the gym rapidly became a way I could easily take my mind off the tribulations of being an amputee, which has led to me competing in bodybuilding competitions, where I placed in the top five in all events. However, due to the discomfort and lack of suction in my previous sockets, I struggled to push myself to the maximum. My traditional socket could hold the strain of the weights I was lifting, but the restriction in movement and discomfort I felt when applying 300lbs. to my bodyweight was beyond belief on my distal end. I had to find an alternative and searched around.

That’s when I found LIM Innovations, a company from San Francisco, who designed and produced the Infinite Socket. I saw the modularity, adjustability, and the various suspension types this socket had to offer and requested more information. One month later from discovering the socket, I was wearing it. The added comfort and stability has made such a big difference to my training. From the top where my ischial bone connects with the socket down to the residual limb. I haven’t had tissue breakdown due to my activity levels, whether it be working out, doing cardio on any of the machines or even walking long distances. In comparison, the conventional socket would be hard and rigid and would require major adjustments or even a new socket if I was to partake in any of these activities. It was also highly uncomfortable or would tear my skin after long periods of use.

“The ratchet system is a Godsend, it has given me to opportunity to drop up to 10 lbs. so far without any major adjustments other that simply cranking on the ratchet to a comfortable and snug fit.”

My goal this year is to be number one and also win in any event or challenge handed to me. I am looking forward to returning back to competition form in the upcoming weeks with no worries thanks to the versatility of this socket. I want to prove to myself and inspire others that obstacles in your way can be pushed aside and applied mentally to every facet of your life to become successful. My life has slowly come full circle, gaining the acceptance, admiration and respect from my peers and getting treated as an equal with no questions asked along the way.


On Call with Dr. AP: Comps and Nominees

Last week, I discussed our goals for 2015 and the up-and-down journey of 2014. This week, I would like to look ahead to what has already been a promising 2015.

We ended 2014 with a feature in WIRED Magazine’s Third Annual Design Issue and a segment on San Francisco’s ABC7 News. We are going into 2015 with a number of competitions and nominations on the horizon.

We have been nominated for the 2015 INDEX Award: Design to Improve Life Award, National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation, and the SXSW Interactive Awards.

The Index Award is hosted in Denmark, sponsored by the Royal Family. We were selected by one of the Index Award Spotters, Sena Cerci. There is an opportunity for international exposure in stepping up to the ‘design to improve life challenge’, as well as a €500,000 cash prize. We are honored to receive international recognition from such a prestigious foundation, looking to improve lives through design.

The University of Maryland hosts the National Capital Consortium for Pediatric Device Innovation, where we have been selected to present as 1 of 12 finalists. This competition is similar to the Sheikh Zayed Prizes for Pediatric Device Innovation. It is a great opportunity to continue our involvement and development of pediatric prosthetic care.

We submitted the Infinite Socket to the SXSW Interactive Award in December of 2014. Our submission was reviewed, along with the rest of the competition, in early January. We are expecting an announcement of the finalists on Monday, January 26th. If LIM Innovations is selected as a finalist, we will have the opportunity to attend the event and a ceremony, where the winner will be announced.

We are excited and honored by the overall recognition in the industry, and hope the continued publicity can lead to more users achieving a better quality of life with the Infinite Socket.

I vow to give our dedicated readers a weekly commentary on industry trends, the latest LIM events, entrepreneurial lessons I learn as the CEO and Co-Founder of LIM Innovations, and pearls of wisdom as a practicing Orthopaedic surgeon. I ask you join me at the most obscure hours of the night as you all “take call” with Dr. AP. I view this as an opportunity for our supporters to connect with me and to share what happens behind the scenes here at LIM Innovations.