Sandy McGee: The Unexpected Gift

Life has a way of taking unexpected turns. Some of them are good; some of them test us in ways we never thought we would be tested. How we navigate through those changes is up to each of us. Sandy never thought that she would ever have to go through limb loss, let alone losing parts of all 4 of her limbs. However, in March of 2017 life threw her an enormous curve-ball in the form of septicemia. Doctors did all they could for Sandy, but unfortunately, the aftermath of her battle with septicemia resulted in Sandy having to have portions of her left hand and right foot amputated, her right arm amputated below her elbow, and her left leg amputated below her knee.

As Sandy focused on healing after her surgeries, she mentioned to Julie West, one of the Physician Assistants that works with Sandy's surgeon Dr. Valerio, that she had 2 goals that she would like to accomplish by this summer/fall. One of those goals was going to see country music superstar Martina McBride when she performed at the Muskingum County Fair on August 18th. This gave Julie an idea. She secretly reached out to Martina McBride's foundation, Team Music is Love. When the foundation learned about Sandy's story and how hard Sandy was working to reach that goal of being able to attend Martina's concert, they knew they had to do something extra special for Sandy.

Sandy had no idea that any of this was going on. Her medical team at OSU including Julie West and Dr. Valerio let us know what was going on, and we worked hard to make sure that Sandy was able to get her prosthetic hand in time for the concert surprise so she could be able to shake Martina's hand. It was so hard for everyone to keep this a secret because we knew that Sandy was a big Martina McBride fan. As Sandy puts it, "She is the most beautiful person and her music is beautiful. It touches me." Even Sandy's daughter was in on the surprise.

When August the 18th came, Sandy said that she knew something was up because she thought her daughter was behaving a little funny. Maybe anxious or excited, but when Sandy would ask what was going on, all her daughter would say was not to worry about it and not to ask questions. When Sandy arrived at the VFW hall where (unbeknownst to her) she would meet Martina, Sandy was shocked to see Dr. Valerio, Julie West, and Tim and Jaimie from Optimus. She was puzzled why they were all waiting for her there, but she was touched that they showed up to see her. Then, Martina walked in the room. "I didn't recognize her at first. I was certainly not expecting to see Martina McBride! It was awesome getting to meet her." When Sandy found out how this all got set up, she was floored, "I mean, who does that? I don't know of too many doctors who would do that for one of their patients. I can't ask for a better team taking care of me. All of you...just wow." Sandy never imagined back in March that through life's odd journey when she went through limb loss, the journey of her recovery would eventually lead to her getting a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet one of her favorite musicians.
Dr. Ian Valerio, Julie West, Sandy McGee, Martina McBride, Jaimie Howard and Tim Riedlinger. 

Fate had one more special encounter in store to encourage Sandy. Later the same night that she got to meet Martina, and following her phenomenal concert, Sandy wanted to make sure that she got some fair food before she left. She saw a sign out of the corner of her eye advertising a pork tenderloin sandwich, and it was calling her name. When she went to order, she noticed that the gentleman who was running the food stand was a fellow amputee who was also missing his right arm. After talking to this gentleman for a while Sandy not only got her fair food, but she also got to meet a new friend.

Life has a funny way of taking unexpected turns, but it also brings us unexpected gifts as well. The trick is to find the good even in the midst of the most trying of times and to never lose hope.  As Sandy puts it, "I hope that people see me and hear my story and are inspired. If good can come out of a bad situation, then I am all for it!" We could not agree more. 

Employee Spotlight: Jaimie Howard


Jaimie Howard earned her Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science from Morehead State University in KY and a Master's degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics from Eastern Michigan University.  Jaimie has now been working with amputees for 2 years, primarily at Optimus Prosthetics.  

During her interview Jaimie stated that she has always had an interest in the medical field, but she also loved art and sculpture and being able to work with her hands. While she was doing her internship in college, she met a man who told me how the person who made his leg braces also made prostheses. After that, she decided it would be the perfect blend.
Jaimie's advice for new amputees is " to t ake it one day at a time and don't over do it. It takes time to adjust to using a prosthesis and we want to catch any issues early on."
When asked what she loves most about her job Jaimie stated "  I get to help people achieve their goals and return to the activities they are passionate about.  Plus t he great team I work with every day at Optimus!" 

Physical  Therapy Quick Tips
Activities for Prosthetic Training
The goal of "Quick Tips" is to provide helpful information and be a resource for those individuals helping patients fit with prosthesis learn to use them correctly in order to enjoy a better quality of life as an amputee.
Andrea Kinsinger, PT

For this month's issue I am continuing with the theme of establishing good prosthetic weight bearing. We have discussed the box taps and bolster rolls in previous issues. Another progression is prosthetic stance and placing the sound limb on a ball. To perform these exercises the patient stands evenly on both legs with a stable object for the required assistance and safety. Place a small ball under the sound foot.  Try to concentrate on keeping the hips even with each other, pelvis level and not leaning way over the prosthetic limb. Maintaining a backward force within the socket will help maintain stability.
Forward Ball Rolls
The patient stands and balances on the prosthesis and attempts to gently roll the ball forward and backward in a controlled manner with the sound limb.
Repeat 5-15 times.  Do 1-3 sets.

Side to Side Ball Rolls
The patient stands and balances on the prosthesis and attempts to gently roll the ball side to side in a controlled manner with the sound limb.
Repeat 5-15 times.  Do 1-3 sets.

Circular Ball Rolls
The patient stands and balances on the prosthesis and attempts to gently roll the ball clockwise, then counterclockwise in a controlled manner with the sound limb.
Repeat 5-15 times.  Do 1-3 sets.

When the patient can perform the above exercises safely, we can progress the patient by:
  • Adding more complex patterns such as figure 8's or the alphabet
  • Increasing the speed of movement (but not at the expense of technique!)
  • Increasing the size of the ball  

The above exercises might be too aggressive for some patients, so next month we will look at a set of exercises using the same principles but with different equipment.
Andrea Kinsinger, PT
Andrea Kinsinger  has been a licensed Physical Therapist  since 1986.  Andrea has worked with lower extremity amputee patients throughout her career. She enjoys offering her expertise, advice, and support throughout the patient's rehabilitation. Feel free to contact Andrea if she can assist you in any way at:

In This Issue
Cincinnati Courses:

12:00pm  Course#7
HealthSouth at Drake 

12:00pm Course#2
Mercy Fairfield In-patient
12:00pm Course#2
Fort Hamilton Hospital

12:00pm Course#7
Covenant Village of Green Twnp 

12:15pm Course#6
Daniel Drake Outpatient Rehab in West Chester

12:00pm  Course#5
HealthSouth at Norwood

12:00pm Course#2
Select Specialty at Bethesda North

12:00pm Course#5
Liberty Nursing Center of Colerain

12:00pm Course#10
Mercy Health Fairfield Outpatient

12:00pm Course#2
Harrison Pavilion

Columbus Courses:

12:30pm Course#9
Select Specialty South
12:30pm Course#2
Select Specialty East
12:00pm Course#10
Forum at Knightsbridge

12:00pm Course#2
Meadow Grove
12:00pm Course#10
Laurels of Worthington
11:30am Course#9
Mount Carmel West

12:00pm Course#3
St. Ann's Hospital
12:00pm Course#6
Mt. Carmel Rehab Hospital
Dayton Courses:

12:00pm Course#6
Wilson Memorial Hospital

12:30pm Course#9
Maria Joseph

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
Follow Us Online  

Visit Us on Facebook
Visit us on YouTube