Brandon Hartley: Keeping Perspective

For Brandon Hartley, the struggles of life can be summed up in a metaphor involving dogs.
"A Chihuahua and Great Dane both walk through a mud puddle. The Chihuahua gets covered in mud and the Great Dane only gets his paws dirty," he said. "Things affect everyone differently, don't compare yourself to others."
Brandon has certainly had his fair share of mud puddles in his life. He did a front flip off his friend's truck, resulting in a severe mid-foot dislocation. After several surgeries involving screws being put in his foot, Brandon finally made the decision to have it amputated. It was a difficult pill to swallow, as he had aspirations to go into the Navy Seals.
"I had two Seal contracts. I was medically released all while laying in a hospital bed watching everything pass me by unable to do anything about it," he said.
That wasn't the end of his personal woes, though. Brandon got into a fight with his best friend, the very friend on whose property the accident took place. The fight turned physical, with Brandon pushing his friend to the ground. The friend got up, shook his head, and walked away. That was the last time Brandon ever saw him.
"He wouldn't talk to me, then two weeks later he killed himself," he said.
In spite of this, Brandon has managed to maintain a positive attitude.
"I was letting all the people I had lost bring me down, and that's not what they would've wanted," he said.
Keeping things into perspective has also helped him.
 "There was a guy that was missing both his legs and someone ask him how he can be so positive with no legs," he said. "He replied, 'How can you be so negative with both of your legs?' It's a mindset."
So far, his biggest challenge has been finding love after all he's been through. He said that when he meets a perspective romantic partner, they act "weird," once they find out he has an amputation.
"Relationships are hard right now because it makes people uncomfortable," he said. "I want to meet someone who sees me and not my amputation and takes me as I am."
He credits Optimus Prosthetics for why he is walking again.
"I don't have words to describe it," he said. "If something is wrong you come and see your practitioner and they fix it. Then you leave feeling better than you did when you came in."
He said that Dayton Clinical Manager Glenn Schober even gave him his cell phone number to call him whenever he needs to.
" Optimus is amazing, and it's been a great experience," he said. "Everyone here is awesome." 

Shirley McElwain: Finding the Silver Lining
"Know your body!! Your body will tell you when something is not right. I knew there was something not right, but I am the type of person that I want to fix it myself." However, what Shirley quickly learned is that there are some things you just can't fix yourself. Shirley had developed an extremely excruciatingly painful ulcer on her left leg, and no matter what she did, it would not heal. It only continued to get worse. When she finally went in to the doctor to get checked out, she learned she had a blockage in one of her arteries in her upper thigh. This lack of good circulation to the rest of her leg was the reason why her leg was not healing.
"I have a very good surgeon, and he explained everything to me from the beginning of the whole process." They first tried medication and surgeries to try to correct her circulation issues, but her surgeon warned her that if that did not work, amputation may be a possibility. Shirley began to prepare herself mentally, so when it came time to make the decision to go through with amputation surgery, she was at peace about it. One moment that stood out clearly to Shirley during her recovery process was the first time she met our patient advocate, Lyndsey. "She walked into the room and the first words out of her mouth were, 'Hi! I'm Lyndsey, and I am here to help.' That stuck with me. That simple statement really impacted me. She didn't try to sell me on anything; she made it clear that she was here to help me." Shirley soon learned that this patient-centered focus extended to all members of the Optimus team.
Although she still had a long journey ahead of her when she went home from the hospital, Shirley credits her faith in God for giving her the strength to keep a positive attitude and keep going. She also recalls something that she was told by her family at a young age, "There is ALWAYS a silver lining. You just gotta find it! Sometimes you gotta dig deep for it, and sometimes that means you will dig with a shovel for it, other times you dig for it with a backhoe."
 Shirley is so excited now that she has her prosthesis. "You don't realize the little things in life you miss, and the amount of steps you have to take every day for even the simplest of tasks [without a prosthesis]." She talked about a number of things that, without her prosthesis, are much more complicated tasks, such as using her toaster every morning while balancing on one leg, making dinner and trying to carry items from one counter to another in her kitchen, going grocery shopping alone, grabbing the TV remote from the other side of a large table, and even going to the restroom in her home (where her wheelchair cannot fit into the bathroom). Without her prosthesis, she has to try to figure out how to do all these things while also having to maneuver her wheelchair, and some things just cannot be done safely one handed. For Shirley, getting her prosthesis is all about getting back to the "quality of your own life" and living your life to the fullest. We all are excited what the future holds for Shirley as we continue working together to help her reach her goals. 

Jim's Corner-   Quiet Stance
Optimus Prosthetics Jim Scharf
Jim Scharf, PTA
The goal of "Jim's Corner" is to provide helpful information and be a resource for those helping patients fitted with prosthetics learn to use them correctly in order to enjoy a better quality of life as an amputee.

As I have mentioned in past columns, a lack of balance is a great fear for the patient because their balance skills do not automatically return once the patient receives their prosthesis. During the next several months we are going to discuss a group of more advanced progressions that work on prosthetic balance and prosthetic stability, as well as prosthetic weight shifting and prosthetic weight bearing. 

To perform these exercises the patient stands on their prosthesis and places the sound limb on a foam pad, a dyna disc or other compliant surface with a stable object for the required assistance and safety. We want the patient to concentrate on keeping the hips even with each other, the pelvis level, and to not lean way over the prosthetic limb. Maintaining a backward force within the socket will help to maintain stability.

But sometimes the foam pad, the dyna disc or other compliant surface is too advanced for the patient so I will break the drill up into smaller pieces and begin with the sound foot on a solid platform (like an aerobic step). When the patient gains confidence and masters the smaller pieces, we then progress back to the bigger piece, the foam pad, the dyna disc or other compliant surface.

To begin I have the patient stand up with a stable object for the required assistance and safety. The patient stands on their prosthesis and will place their sound limb on the pad or disc. The first thing to establish is a quiet stance with little or no postural sway and when the patient is comfortable, they are to try to let go of the stable object and maintain a quiet stance for up to 30 seconds. Quiet stance consists of standing erect with no swaying, with the pelvis directly above the feet and directly below the shoulders.

This is a great place to start the patient, since they can grab the stable object if they feel they need to do so. Usually when the patient first starts this drill, they might be able to maintain a quiet stance for only a few seconds before needing to grab the stable object again. We want to try and increase their time of not holding onto anything for 30 seconds maintaining a quiet stance to help them regain their confidence.

 Jim Scharf, PTA, Prosthetic Assistant/Gait Specialist
Jim has been a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant since 1988.  Jim has worked with lower extremity amputee patients throughout his career.  He serves as a Gait Specialist and Liaison when prosthetic patients are meeting with their therapists. Feel free to contact Jim if he can assist you in any way
In This Issue
Cincinnati Courses:

Course #3
02/02 12:00 PM
HealthSouth at Norwood
Course #3
02/07 12:00 PM
Pristine Senior Living

Course #4
02/07 12:00 PM
Daniel Drake Outpaitent Rehab in West Chester

Course #4
02/14 12:00 PM
Tri-County Extended Care

Course #9
02/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati VA

Course #2
02/15 12:00 PM
Daniel Drake Outpaitent and Inpatient PT OP PT Gym

Course #3
02/16 12:00 PM
Ivy Woods

Course #4
02/16 12:00 PM
Covenant Village


Columbus Courses:

Course #9
02/01 12:00 PM
Eastland Care Center
Course #2
02/07 12:00 PM
Ann's Rehab
Course #3
02/08 12:00 PM
Arlington Court Skilled Nursing and Rehab
Course #9
02/09 12:00 PM
Kindred of Newark
Course #7
02/13 12:00 PM
The Laurels of Norworth
Course #3
02/16 12:00 PM
Kindred of Pickerington

Dayton Courses

Course #1
02/08 12:00 PM
Health South
Optimus Prosthetics, Dayton
8517 North Dixie Drive, Suite 100/300
Dayton, Ohio 45414
(937) 454-1900

Optimus Prosthetics, Columbus
3132 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43202 
(614) 263-LIMB (5462)

Optimus Prosthetics, Cincinnati
4623 Wesley Avenue, Suite B
Cincinnati, OH 45212
(513) 918-2320
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