Category: Bilateral

“JR,” Bilateral AK/KD

Guam:  7/19/2011. It happened in an instant. One minute he was driving his car on a familiar road; the next he was waking up in a hospital, with no recollection of the last few months and the day that forever changed his life.

It was a typical summer evening on the island of Guam.  JR, an assistant project manager at a construction firm, had just  finished his work for the day. “I was was headed out to do some training in preparation for my second half-marathon,” he recalls.  Running, whether in competitive events or just for fun, was his passion. As he drove, it began to rain. The road had recently been repaved, but the rain grooves had not yet been added.  JR remembers losing control of his car on the slippery road, but none of the accident itself.

“We received a call from the police saying our son had been involved in an accident and we needed to get to the hospital,” remembers JR’s mother.  There was case of mistaken identity, and she was told it was her younger son, Michael, who had been hurt. “I tried to call his cell phone, but there was no answer. Then I called JR’s phone, and the police answered.  I explained who I was and asked what color the car was. When they said it was silver, I knew then that it was JR and not Michael.”

Fortunately for JR, the accident had occurred just about a mile from the U.S. Naval Hospital where doctors had extensive training in treating traumatic injuries suffered by soldiers in combat. If he had been taken to the local hospital, JR would not have survived the night. Even so, there was little that could be done to save his badly injured legs; they were both amputated above the knee.

Two months after his accident, JR was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Hawaii where he was fit with his first prosthetic limbs. He was eager to start walking and get back to living an independent life, but found it difficult to walk on them. Discouraged and depressed, he went back to Guam and actually made them into “stubbies” by removing the knee/shin parts of the prostheses and attaching the feet directly to the sockets. “I was able to get up and around like that, but that was not how I wanted to live the rest of my life,” JR explains.

Prosthetic care on Guam is extremely limited. A prosthetist would fly in every six weeks to provide necessary services for the island’s amputees. Repeated attempts to fit JR with comfortable sockets he could function in were unsuccessful, so he  turned to the internet for alternatives.  Once he had secured funding, he searched for a prosthetic socket system which would allow him to become active again, and to walk without a cane.

Impressed by what he saw on SCP’s website, JR contacted Rick Myers, and made arrangements to travel to the U.S. to be fit with new sockets and C-Leg microprocessor knees.

One week after being fit with his new prostheses, JR was ecstatic!  “I can’t stop telling everyone how comfortable these sockets are!” he exclaimed.  “I couldn’t sit like this in the other sockets I had.  I’m amazed every day I wear them.  Now I want to put my legs on in the morning.  I even took a couple naps while wearing my sockets.  I couldn’t do that before because I always felt the sockets.”

JR worked hard at gait training and learning new exercises to increase his core strength and balance. Within 2 weeks, he was not only walking with more control and confidence (without the use of a cane), he had learned how to walk on an incline, up and down stairs, and to get up off the ground without any support!

Video:  Week One

Video: Week Two


When he returns to Guam, the first thing JR wants to do is move out of his parents’ house.  “I’m really looking forward to getting back into my own apartment,” he says with a grin. “They (his parents) are ready to get me out of there!”  In addition, he is anxious to get back to working full-time on his firm’s latest project – a condominium complex.

But also high on JR’s list is training for and participating in the 23rd annual Cocos International Crossing which will be held in May.  Master swimmers come from throughout the Pacific region to participate in this event, a 3.52 km (approx. 2 miles) channel crossing from the uninhabited Cocos Island to the main island of Guam.

JR will return to the U.S. in June for any further training and prosthetic adjustments he may need.  He may even be ready to learn how to run again by then, having come full circle from that devastating summer of 2011 and looking forward to the summer  of 2013 – one full of hope and possibilities.

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Deborah (Bilateral BK and TR)

Deborah had always been physically active. In high school she played softball, volleyball, tennis and was on the swim team. Afterwards she continued to keep fit, training six days a week while going to college and working full-time. In 2005, Deborah, who was otherwise healthy, was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy and painful reconstructive surgery. She quickly recovered from the disease she called “the Monster” and resumed her busy life again without skipping a beat. Life was good until three years later, when Deborah encountered yet a bigger Monster.

December 22, 2008, started out as just an ordinary day. Deborah was planning to go to work as a Health Technician for the Chino Valley Unified School District, giving first aid to elementary school children. She loved her job there, working with and giving “TLC” to the kids, many of which were from dysfunctional homes. That morning she woke up sick, with flu-like symptoms. Her doctor thought the symptoms sounded more like food poisoning and suggested she go to the ER where they could administer fluids to keep her hydrated until it passed and then go home. “Little did I know,” Deborah remembers, “I’d soon be fighting for my life. I was diagnosed with a staph infection. The cardiologist later told me it could have started from something as small as a paper cut. We never did find out the actual cause. I think it just wasn’t my time.” The infection was severe and necessitated the amputation of both her legs below the knee and both hands. “Iv’e always believed and trusted God in my my life, but did then more than ever. I guess a touch of death meant I could be going home soon – heaven bound. I knew where I was going; I wasn’t scared,” Deborah explains. “My husband said he prayed that God wouldn’t take me, so I told him he is stuck with me now!,” she says with a laugh. “We laughed and cried, but there is more laughter now. We used to be close, but this has brought us even closer and made our relationship and faith so much stronger.”

As soon as her incisions had healed, Deborah was fit with her first set of prosthetic legs. “My first prostheses were suspended by pin sleeves,” Deborah recalls. “They started out fitting OK, but my second pair did not fit right at all. I was extremely frustrated when the issues could not be resolved, and I decided to make a change. I didn’t want to settle for an improper fit, pain, etc. I prayed that God would direct me and tell me what I should do. I had heard of a local woman who was dealing with the same illness and I contacted her. We talked for quite a while and I asked her if she had problems with the fit of her prostheses. When she said, ‘mine feel great!’ that’s all I needed to hear! I asked her to email me the link for Southern California Prosthetics (SCP) and immediately set up an evaluation appointment.”

Since that first appointment Deborah has been fit with prosthetic limbs that allow her to walk on the beach, ride her bike, and dance with her husband. She is also swimming and walking her little dog again. “Now, whenI go out and am approached by the curious and helpful people I’m able to share my story along with my Faith and encouragement is the outcome,” she says. Deborah offers the following advice to those who have suffered amputations, loss, or illness: “I encourage them to have Faith and choose Life! Be patient; it takes time! Keep trying to do the things you did before. It may not be exactly the same, but it FEELS GOOD just the same. Get outside and do things with family, friends, church. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Pride gets you nowhere. Practice walking on your prosthetic limbs and be kind to those around you – especially your prosthetist and his team!” she says with a smile.

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Lisa (Bilateral BK)

Lisa (far left)

It’s a challenge to convince 33-year-old Lisa Thompson that she is an inspiration to others, but the way she has lived her life can clearly give hope to others who have doubts and fears about their own abilities and future. An amputee since age 7 when she lost her legs below the knee to meningococcal meningitis, Lisa has little memory of her life before the amputations. “Getting around my house without my legs was never an issue,” she remembers. “I crawled and jumped and played like other kids – I just used my knees instead of feet!” Even though Lisa had been fit with prosthetic limbs, she found them to be cumbersome and painful to wear, so when she arrived home from school or play, she’d quickly kick them off like a pair of shoes.

Throughout her childhood, Lisa participated in many activities such as skiing, rollerblading and swimming. She found that she enjoyed swimming more than other sports. “I didn’t feel disabled when I was swimming,” says Lisa. “I was able to move freely in the water in a way that was not possible using my prosthetic legs. It was liberating!” Her dad made special swim fins for her so that she could compete on the school swim team, and she excelled at the sport.

“I was never self-conscious about my legs until I started high school,” recalls Lisa. “Until that point I went to school with kids who knew about my illness and what had happened to me so I didn’t have to explain it. When I entered high school that was no longer the case, and I began to feel awkward and more aware of my differences.”

After high school, Lisa attended the University of Southern California and earned a degree in elementary school education. She then went on to earn a Master’s Degree and teach both second and fourth grade students. During that time, Lisa also met and married her husband and best friend, Donny. Together they have raised three active, talented and beautiful girls (ages 6, 8 and 15). Lisa has an incredibly busy life. She recently accepted a position as an education specialist, supervising home school families. She is also very active in her church, teaching Sunday school and volunteering at various functions.
In 2010, Lisa began looking for an alternative to the pelite prosthetic sockets she was wearing. Although she had worn the same type of device since childhood, she was no longer able to do the things she used to. Although they were always somewhat uncomfortable, she was now finding them painful to walk in and Lisa had to cut back on many of her activities. Walking on her knees while at home was also taking its toll on her body. Lisa’s search led her to SCP, and that’s when she became part of our family.

“In the beginning,” says Lisa, “making the transition from my old system to new sockets with a silicone liner and suspension sleeve was difficult for me. I remember being told it was going to be a process, not an instant fix, but because I’m not at all patient with those things, it was very frustrating at times. Because of the extremely bony structure of Lisa’s residual limbs and her sensitive skin, custom liners made to the precise measurements of her limbs were a must, and if they didn’t fit exactly right, had to be remade. That process was especially stressful for Lisa. “Thankfully, along with my supportive and loving family, the SCP staff is also patient and understanding.”

So now the only time we get to see Lisa is when she is in need of some supplies or a minor adjustment. She is busy enjoying her wonderful life; as it should be!

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Amy Purdy #1 at WSF Para-Snowboard World Cup! 8/18/2011


Double-amputee Amy Purdy came in #1 at the WSF Para-Snowboard World Cup! Evan Strong also took 1st place in the Men’s division!    Congratulations to both these AmAzInG athletes!!!!

Click here to read article


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Don (Bilateral AK/BK)

When we met Don he was a man on a mission. Don, a bilateral amputee, was wounded while on his tour of duty in Vietnam when he stepped on a landmine and lost both his legs, one above the knee and the other below. A series of surgeries and skin grafts left him with a lot of scar tissue and residual limb pain.

After months of rehabilitation Don learned to walk on prostheses but the nature of his amputations made getting a good fit almost impossible. Standing and walking were very painful activities for him and would quickly cause his skin to tear, forcing him to return to his wheelchair. Fortunately, Don’s great spirit remained intact as he became an avid wheelchair sports competitor and met and married the love of his life, Scheryl.

One day Scheryl was discussing Don’s prosthetic history with a friend of hers who suggested he try the new technology at Southern California Prosthetics. Don and Scheryl, who had learned to accept Don’s reliance on a wheelchair for mobility, were wary of getting their hopes up about prostheses, but they decided to try anyway.

The moment Don put on his new legs for the first time erased any doubt about what he would accomplish with them. His determination and enthusiasm are infectious to all the people he meets, and those traits have allowed him to walk pain free for the first time in more then forty years. Wearing the legs daily and exercising with them has increased Don’s strength and endurance while he works towards his next goal of running on prostheses for the first time. The only naysayer has been Scheryl who complains that she can’t keep up with him anymore but still wants to thank SCP for the new “swagger in his step!”

As for Don, he says he feels “like a new man!” Even some longtime friends have failed to recognize him the first time he walked up to say “hi!” Mission Accomplished!

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Contact Information

Southern California Prosthetics
9272 Jeronimo Road, Suite 106
Irvine, California 92618
Phone: 949.892.5338

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