Prosthetics and orthotics are not typical topics of conversation in our everyday lives. The subject rarely comes up unless we know of someone who uses them or a life event occurs that causes us to need a device ourselves. For 17 years, Mark Selleck of South Beach Prosthetics has been giving people back their mobility by providing them with subject matter expertise, state-of-the-art devices, and ongoing support.
Mark Selleck finds immense satisfaction in helping people, working with his hands, and seeing the results of his efforts in patients who can function again by regaining their independence, confidence, and a sense of normalcy. He has put this passion into providing the best care, products, and services through South Beach Prosthetics. This insightful, inspiring, and eye-opening podcast sheds light on the multi-faceted, often complex world that is orthotics and, primarily, prosthetics.
More nuances, challenges, and steps are involved with getting proper, painless prostheses than we would think, and Mark Selleck has addressed them all with South Beach Prosthetics. From Care Teams, in-home care, transportation, and the latest technology, South Beach Prosthetics offers comprehensive care throughout every patient’s journey to independence.
If you are suffering or struggling with your current prosthetic device or need support getting a new prosthesis, the caring professionals at South Beach Prosthetics are here to help you — in every way. Contact us today at(888) 819-4721 to schedule a consultation with our experienced team, or follow us on Instagram @SouthBeachOP for more resources and inspiration from our community of amputees.
In the realm of prosthetics, denial can cast a powerful influence over the course of one’s journey toward enhanced mobility and self-assurance. This discussion delves deep into the psychological dimensions of denial, shedding light on the intricate landscape of emotions, resilience, and transformation.
At some point in life, everyone experiences denial, a natural response when you’re unable or unwilling to face the facts. Denial is not always a bad thing. But it might be easier to recognize in others than in yourself.
“It’s hard to look at your own life and take a good inventory of what’s going on. It takes a lot of work,” says Jonathan Scholl, a therapist and clinical social worker at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.
Here’s a little insight about denial, how to spot it in yourself and others, and what you might want to do about it.
What is denial?
In psychological terms, denial is a defense mechanism, a skillful tool the mind can employ when things get tough. “I see it as a protective barrier we have that we might or might not be aware of,” Scholl says. “It keeps us safe. It also keeps us from looking at ourselves or addressing something around us and making a change.”
You can be in denial about something you’re not ready to admit or take on, or something that challenges deeply held beliefs.
Common triggers for denial can involve
abuse (mental, emotional, physical, verbal, sexual, financial, or other types of abuse)
alcohol in excess or other substance use, or substance use disorder
lifestyle or family issues
mental health issues
unhealthy weight gain.
How does denial help us?
Denial can shield us from difficult emotions. Scholl says that might be helpful in the short term, and provide relief to people who don’t have the bandwidth or ability to face a problem.
For example, maybe someone is unhappy in a relationship, but the thought of being alone is worse than the thought of being together. Or perhaps someone is burned out or overwhelmed, and lacks the energy or emotional capability for accepting what’s happening. “Part of the person feels it’s easier not to think about the situation, and lets it go because it feels like it’s too much to handle right now,” Scholl says.
How can denial hurt us?
In dangerous or unhealthy situations, denial can hurt us.
For example, keeping our eyes shut about the realities of a physical or mental illness can lead to serious health consequences. “We see a lot of teens with depression and substance use disorders, and some parents deny there are problems because they’re afraid of what it means for the child. It comes from a place of worry,” Scholl says. “But denying problems can hurt children and block them from making meaningful change.”
Denial can also hurt when it involves addiction or abuse. Those problems affect everyone in a family, and can lead to unhealthy patterns that get passed down from one generation to the next.
Spotting behavior patterns that suggest denial
People in denial often exhibit certain behaviors. For example, they might
minimize or justify problems, issues, or unhealthy behaviors
avoid thinking about problems
avoid taking responsibility for unhealthy behaviors, or blame them on someone else
refuse to talk about certain issues, and get defensive when the subjects are brought up.
Moving from denial toward meaningful change
Dealing with denial means first recognizing that it’s occurring — which can be a challenge for anyone — and then addressing the underlying issue that’s causing it.
If you recognize denial in yourself, Scholl advises that you reach out for help. Talk to someone close to you or get an outside opinion from a therapist, a spiritual counselor, your doctor, or a hotline number, such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline if you’re experiencing intimate partner violence. For addiction problems, make that first call to a substance use disorder hotline or recovery center, or try attending just one meeting of a 12-step program (such as Alcoholics Anonymous). In time, you can learn to face your fears or concerns, and develop a concrete plan to change.
Recognizing denial in others: Tread carefully
If you recognize denial in others and you’d like to point it out, tread very carefully. Seek guidance from experts before taking on a situation that could be dangerous to you or to the other person.
If the situation is not dangerous, be as compassionate as possible. “Have a warm and empathetic conversation in an environment without distractions,” Scholl says. “Express your love and point out what you’re seeing. Talk about how it affects you. And then give it time. You can’t force anyone to change. All you can do is plant a seed.”
Reach out to South Beach Prosthetics Services and embark on a path of self-discovery, awareness, and empowerment. Take the first step towards a future where your prosthetic experience becomes a catalyst for growth and empowerment. Remember — we can come to you with in-home care, but also help you to get out of the house for your appointments and your education on managing your new prosthesis: We can pick you up at no cost and bring you back. You can have peace of mind with our VIP care, ensuring you get what you need for your whole-health journey. Contact us today at (888) 819-4721. Follow us on Instagram @SouthBeachOP for more tips on prosthetic care.
We believe in pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the field of prosthetics. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a game-changer, revolutionizing the way prosthetic devices are designed, developed, and utilized. Join us as we explore the groundbreaking innovations that are shaping the future of prosthetic technology — and rest assured, we are at the forefront of all developments. Given we have our own labs, staying on top of all the latest technologies is a key component of our business model.
Artificial intelligence is all over the news lately, and it’ll soon be all over the journal Prosthesis: The publication is soliciting papers for an upcoming special edition focused on “the latest research, technologies, and innovations in the field of AI-assisted prosthetics and rehabilitation.” That issue won’t be published for quite a while, though, and we’re impatient. So we did a quick survey of the scientific literature and scoured our own archives to sketch, in very broad strokes, a picture of the current frontiers in AI-enhanced prosthetic tech.
When we say “artificial intelligence,” by the way, we’re not merely referring to standard data gathering and analysis. We’re referring to systems that have the ability to get smarter and change their behavior over time—systems that can “learn,” in essence. Prosthetic devices that are equipped with this capability hold the potential to integrate more seamlessly with our own selves, adapting along with us as our habits and bodies change.
We sorted the research into four main buckets, corresponding to varying applications of AI within prosthetic devices. We begin with:
1. AI That Helps Prosthetics Read and React to the External Environment
One type of AI operates in a manner somewhat akin to a self-driving car: It gathers information from the outside world, learns to identify potential hazards, and makes real-time adjustments to promote safe, comfortable interactions. Exhibit A in this class might be the prosthetic leg that’s under development at North Carolina State University. This experimental device uses computer vision and other sensors to understand the surface that’s being walked on; the AI evaluates that input and uses it to maintain a more natural gait. An early prototype was calibrated to distinguish among six surface environments: tile, brick, concrete, grass, upstairs, and downstairs. This is different from the type of AI in a microprocessor knee because the NC State leg responds to fixed, external stimuli, whereas an MPK acts upon the spatial coordinates of the prosthesis itself. Both prostheses are making similar decisions, but they’re crunching different data sets to get there.
“Smart skin” is another example of this type of AI, with potential applications for upper-limb prosthetic devices. One leading prototype combines touch sensitivity with an onboard learning system that helps the skin react appropriately to stimuli. Another uses tiny, multilayered sensors in artificial fingertips to read force, temperature, and moisture and convert that data into electrical signals. And a third experimental smart skin integrates five layers of sensory fabric with a neural network that supports real-time perception of the surface that’s being touched.
2. AI That Helps Prosthetics Read and React to the Wearer’s Body State
The most pertinent example in this AI category is smart sockets. These devices are equipped with sensors that detect volume changes in residual limbs over time, then automatically adjust the socket to maintain a secure, comfortable fit. All use some form of AI that makes them responsive to the user’s tendencies, enabling the socket to “learn” whether you prefer a tighter or looser fit or to anticipate individual patterns related to your behavior. These devices will respond one way for an active person who walks four or five miles a day, but another way for a more sedentary person who only averages two or three thousand steps.
3. AI That Helps Prosthetics Read and React to the Wearer’s Intent
This seems to be the most robust frontier for AI-enhanced prosthetics. One high-profile example is the Esper Hand, which made the cover of Time Magazine a few months ago. It uses standard electromyographic sensors that monitor muscle impulses and translate them into gestures, grips, and other motions. However, the Esper includes AI modules that “learn,” over time, to translate those signals with ever-increasing precision. As its predictions become faster and more accurate, the hand becomes easier to use. Research at the University of Newfoundland, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, and elsewhere is rooted in the same approach, combining standard electromyographic interfaces with AI enhancements.
The Utah Bionic Leg builds intent detection into a lower-limb prosthesis. It goes beyond the type of AI that exists in a microprocessor knee, which monitors the spatial coordinates of the prosthesis, crunches the data, and makes ongoing adjustments to maintain natural gait, optimize energy efficiency, and avoid unstable positions that might lead to a fall. In the Utah Leg’s more powerful AI system, additional sensors gather input from the muscles in the residual limb and correlate those signals to the user’s intent. That extra layer of data supports even more natural, intuitive motion than a standard MPK.
A different model bypasses the muscles altogether and taps directly into the peripheral nerves. Researchers at the University of Minnesota have achieved good results with a prototype limb that uses a nerve implant to read and interpret signals coming directly from the brain. Over time, the onboard AI learns to correlate specific nerve signals with particular gestures, enabling users to exert fine motor control over individual fingers. The nerve-interface approach is also at the heart of new research involving patients who use osseointegrated prosthetic limbs.
4. AI That Helps Prosthetics Re-Calibrate Themselves
One stumbling block of neuroprosthetic devices that involve implants is that they require periodic tuning. Muscle and nerve tissues change over time, which inevitably affects the performance of the prosthesis. Moreover, the implants or other sensing componentry may undergo changes, necessitating readjustment. These and other factors can create slippage in the device’s usefulness, requiring continuous re-calibration—which in turn can cost time, money, and aggravation.
A team of researchers at ETH Zürich is working on an AI system that can automatically reset calibration parameters, reducing the downtime and effort involved in human-mediated adjustments. We won’t pretend to understand everything they’re talking about here; when one of a paper’s core ideas is described as “Gaussian process-based Bayesian optimization,” we’ve far exceeded the limits of our understanding. But we include the example here as an illustration of the type of AI research that hasn’t made many headlines yet—but which might turn up in the special edition of Prosthesis a year or two from now.
We leverage the latest advancements in technology to create state-of-the-art prosthetic solutions that seamlessly integrate with your body and enhance your quality of life. Contact us today at (888) 819-4721 and take the plunge. Follow us on Instagram @SouthBeachOP for more tips on prosthetic care.
Living with limb loss can be a challenging and emotional experience. In addition to the physical adjustments and limitations, amputees often face the hurdle of navigating the healthcare system to access quality prosthetic care. Unfortunately, many amputees experience medical gaslighting, a harmful practice where healthcare professionals dismiss or minimize their concerns and needs. As a prosthetics company, our mission is to empower amputees to advocate for themselves to access the best possible care. You’ll find nothing but caring and empathetic people at South Beach Prosthetics who are not satisfied until you are feeling comfortable and well.
“As an academic allergist/immunologist and autoimmune patient, the recent headlines recounting stories of medical gaslighting don’t surprise me,” wrote Kara Wada at Medpage Today late last year. “Daily, I see patients who report having their symptoms second-guessed, minimized, or outright dismissed.”
What headlines was Dr. Wada referring to? Well, there was a New York Times article titled “How to Spot ‘Medical Gaslighting’ and What to Do About It.” The Today Show ran a five-minute report slugged “How to Navigate ‘Medical Gaslighting’ When Doctors Dismiss Your Symptoms.” WebMD chimed in with a piece titled “When the Doctor Dismisses Your Concerns.” Outlets as disparate as Health.com, Psychology Today, Pop Sugar, Business Insider, and Scary Mommy brought attention to the issue as well. Google search volume on the term “medical gaslighting” went through the roof.
In short, the idea struck a real nerve among patients—especially patients with limb loss and other disabilities. “The medical system is built for patients with ‘quick fix,’ acute illnesses,” wrote Trinity Lowthian at Cripple Media last January. “When a patient doesn’t fit into a well-defined box, this leads to a phenomenon that is very common among people who have an undiagnosed or rare condition: medical gaslighting. If the symptoms are not easily explainable, it is common for [doctors] to blame it on the patient’s own faults instead of acknowledging that they do not know the answer.”
This phenomenon is a corollary to the study we highlighted in our current issue, which found that discrimination against people with disabilities is shockingly common within the medical profession. And the root causes of both are the same: Doctors aren’t given the training, technology, staffing support, and other infrastructure they need to care for patients who fall outside the fat part of the bell curve. Medical administrators have optimized the US health system to efficiently care for ordinary patients at a massive scale. Since patients with disabilities are extraordinary by definition, they require care providers to adapt in ways they’re simply not equipped to do.
The very best practitioners find ways to transcend the system’s limitations and provide whatever resources each patient requires, whether it’s “efficient” or not. But the average practitioner doesn’t. Even if they want to do more for patients with complex needs (and most of them do), they often can’t because of the barriers raised by insurers, hospital policies, regulatory requirements, and so forth. But when the system fails a patient, clinicians are often loathe to acknowledge (or even recognize) what’s actually happening. It’s much easier to blame unresolved symptoms on a patient’s “unrealistic expectations,” “stress and anxiety,” or “bad attitude” instead of pointing the finger at the dysfunctional healthcare model that pays the doctor’s salary.
In the end, healthcare professionals don’t gaslight because they truly think their patients are crazy. They do it because the healthcare system itself is crazy. This is a dangerous truth that most people don’t want to say out loud. It’s much safer to define the system as rational and the tough cases as irrational.
So how do you hold your own? Here are some tips:
How Amputees Can Combat Medical Gaslighting
Define the mission. Have a clear statement of your objective or concern, and focus it on your quality of life. A vague complaint such as “I’m having a lot of pain” is too broad and leaves too much up to the clinician’s interpretation. Narrow it to actionable steps, such as: “I’m seeking help with pain management so I can reach the following goals: First, so I can resume my regular workout regimen; second, so I can get better sleep.” Contextualize the symptom(s) within a whole-person perspective.
Ask about Plans A, B, and C. Even the most egotistical clinician knows they don’t have all the answers and that medicine is an inexact science. There’s never a guarantee that any particular treatment will solve a problem, so get a sense of what your options are—if Plan A doesn’t work, what’s the next step? If I’m not totally sold on Plan A, can it be modified or tweaked so I feel better about it? Might Plan B or C ultimately be a better fit to achieve my objectives? What’s the risk/reward profile of each option?
Don’t challenge the clinician; ask them to educate you.If you’re not getting the answers you want, you’ll only make things worse if you directly challenge the practitioner’s opinion. Instead of reciting facts and figures that you read on WebMD, ask the clinician to share their knowledge and expertise: “I’m interested in treatment X; I’ve read it sometimes helps in cases like mine. Do you think I’m a good candidate for that?” Have them explain the why behind their recommendations, and make sure they understand the why behind your own preference or opinion.
Focus on results. Keep detailed records of how well you’re responding to treatment. If you’re not making progress toward your goals, don’t dwell on your symptoms or your subjective feelings. Just state the objective data. To use the example from “define the mission” above: If the mission is to resume your regular workout regimen, and you’re still not able to do that, give the specific facts of the case. “When I try to run, the back pain gets too intense after half a mile and I have to stop”; or, “My pain wakes me up three nights a week on average, and I have to wrap my leg in ice to get back to sleep.” If Plan A isn’t showing results, ask how much longer it makes sense to stick with it (and why) before pivoting to Plan B.
We understand the unique challenges you’re facing and are committed to providing the highest quality prosthetics and support. Contact us today at (888) 819-4721 to schedule a consultation with our experienced team and take the first step towards regaining your mobility and independence. Follow us on Instagram @SouthBeachOP for more resources and inspiration from our community of amputees.
Living with an amputation can be a challenging experience that can affect an individual’s mental health in various ways. The loss of a limb can lead to feelings of grief, anger, and frustration. These emotions can be difficult to process, and individuals may require support and guidance to cope with the emotional impact of amputation. Acknowledging the difficult feelings and emotions that can accompany an amputation is an important step of your journey, and certainly, one that is not to be ignored or diminished. When you can notice and name the feelings you’re experiencing, you give yourself the opportunity to improve your mental health, and thrive!
One of the most common mental health challenges associated with living with an amputation is depression. Depression can cause persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest in activities. Individuals who have experienced amputation may be more vulnerable to depression due to the changes in their physical ability and self-image. It’s important to seek professional help if depression is suspected, as it can be effectively treated with therapy, medication, or a combination of both. If left untreated, depression can quickly become all-consuming.
Anxiety is another common mental health issue that those living with an amputation may face. Anxiety can manifest in the form of constant worry, fear, and nervousness, making it difficult to engage in social situations and daily activities. Feelings of anxiety may be triggered by the perceived stigma and discrimination that individuals with amputations sometimes face. Like depression, anxiety can be managed by talking to someone or taking common medications. Anxiety is manageable and recognizing these feelings can help you move forward in treating it.
Self-esteem and body image issues can also affect mental health when living with an amputation. Some people may feel self-conscious about their appearance or experience a sense of loss of control over their body. These feelings may cause them to avoid social situations or limit their participation in activities they once enjoyed. Building self-confidence through counseling or self-affirmation techniques can help those living with an amputation overcome these challenges.
Support from loved ones and professional counselors is essential when coping with the mental health impact of an amputation. Support groups and peer networks can provide a sense of community and support from people who have had similar experiences. Sharing groups can open doors to new possibilities—our Friend’s Group provides the opportunity for those living with similar experiences to connect, talk and listen.
Living with an amputation can have a significant impact on an individual’s mental health. It’s important to recognize the emotional challenges associated with amputation and seek support and care to manage these challenges. Alongside counseling, physical therapy and rehabilitation are also important components to help to improve functioning as well as a sense of accomplishment and control.
Our compassionate and experienced team is here for every moment along your journey. From custom-made prosthetics to transportation to your appointments, to connecting with our Friend’s Group, we are with you. Visit our Facebook page, or give us a call at (888) 819-4721 to see all that we can do for you!
Getting yourself ready every day for exercising is not at all an easy task, especially after an amputation. Despite knowing the benefits of exercising and the good health it brings, we often all choose not to do it. We might start doing it with the right motivation but somehow drop this idea somewhere along the way. Learn here how to change that.
When we received the stay-at-home order in March 2020 — I live in California — I came out of the gates pretty darn hot.
“Embrace not being so busy,” I wrote. “Take this time at home to get into a new happiness habit.”
That seems hilarious to me now. My pre-pandemic routines fell apart hard and fast. Some days, I would realize at dinnertime that not only had I not showered or gotten dressed that day, I hadn’t even brushed my teeth.
Even though I have coached people for a long time in a very effective, science-based method of habit formation, I struggled.Truth be told, for the first few months of the pandemic I more or less refused to follow my own best advice.
I think this was because I love to set ambitious goals. Adopting little habits is so much less exciting than embracing a big, juicy goal.
Take exercise, for example.
When the pandemic began, I optimistically embraced the idea that I could get back into running outside.I picked a half marathon to train for and spent a week or so meticulously devising a detailed daily training plan. However, I stuck to that plan for only a few weeks — all that planning and preparation led only to a spectacular failure to exercise.
I skipped my training runs despite feeling like the importance of exercise and the good health it brings has never been more bracingly clear. Despite knowing that it would cut my risk of heart disease in half. Despite knowing that exercise radically reduces the probability we’ll get cancer or diabetes and that it’s as least as effective as prescription medication when it comes to reducing depression and anxiety, that it improves our memory and learning, and that it makes our brains more efficient and more powerful.
Why did I skip exercise despite knowing all this?
The truth is our ability to follow through on our intentions — to get into a new habit like exercise or to change our behavior in any way — actually doesn’t depend on the reasons that we might do it or on the depth of our convictions to do it. It also doesn’t depend on our understanding of the benefits of a particular behavior, or even on the strength of our willpower.
Instead, it depends on our willingness to be badat our desired behavior.
And I hate being bad at stuff. I’m a “go big or go home” kind of gal. I like being good at things, and I quit exercising because I wasn’t willing to be bad at it.
Here’s why we need to be willing to be bad. Being good requires that our effort and our motivation need to be equivalent. In other words, the harder a thing is for us to do, the more motivation we need to do that thing. And you might have noticed that motivation isn’t something we can always muster on command. Whether we like it or not, motivation comes and motivation goes. When motivation wanes, plenty of research shows that we humans tend to follow the law of the least effort and do the easiest thing.
New behaviors require a lot of effort because change is hard. Change can require a lot of motivation, which we can’t count on having. This is why we often don’t do the things we really intend to do.
To establish an exercise routine, I needed to let myself be bad at it. I needed to stop trying to be an actual athlete.
I started exercising again by running for only one minute at a time — yes, that’s right, 60 seconds.Every morning after I brushed my teeth, I changed out of my pajamas and walked out the door, with my only goal to run for one full minute.
These days, I usually run for 15 or 20 minutes at a stretch. But on the days that I’m totally lacking in motivation or time, I still do that one minute. And this minimal effort always turns out to be way better than nothing.
Maybe you relate. Maybe you’ve also failed in one of your attempts to change yourself for the better. Perhaps you want to use less plastic, meditate more or be a better antiracist. Maybe you want to write a book or eat more leafy greens.
I have great news for you: You can do and be those things, starting right now!
The sole requirement is that you stop trying to be so good. You’ll need to abandon your grand plans, at least temporarily. You must allow yourself to do something so minuscule that it’s only slightly better than doing nothing at all.
Ask yourself: How can you strip down that thing you’ve been meaning to do into something so easy you could do it every day with barely a thought?So if your big objective is to eat lots of leafy greens, maybe you could start by adding one lettuce leaf to your sandwich at lunch.
Don’t worry: You’ll get to do more. This “better than nothing” behavior isn’t your ultimate goal. But for now, do something ridiculously easy that you can do even when nothing in your life is going as planned.
On those days, doing some wildly unambitious act is better than doing nothing. A one-minute meditation is relaxing and restful. A single leaf of romaine lettuce has a half-gram of fiber and important nutrients. A one-minute walk gets us outside and moving, which our bodies really need.
Try doing one better than nothing behavior.See how it goes. Your goal is repetition, not high achievement.
Let yourself be mediocre at whatever you are trying to do, but be mediocre every day.
Take only one step, but take that step every day.
And if your better than nothing habit doesn’t actually seem better to you than doing nothing, remember that you are getting started at something and that initiating a behavior is often the hardest part.
By getting started, you are establishing a neural pathway in your brain for a new habit. This makes it much more likely that you’ll succeed with something more ambitious down the line. Once you hardwire a habit into your brain, you can do it without thinking and, more importantly, without needing much willpower or effort.
A “better than nothing” habit is easy for you to repeat, again and again, until it’s on autopilot.You can do it even when you aren’t motivated, even when you’re tired, even when you have no time. Once you start acting on autopilot, that’s the golden moment that your habit can begin to expand organically.
After a few days of running for one minute, I started feeling a genuine desire to keep running.Not because I felt like I should exercise more or I had to do more to impress people, but because it felt more natural to keep running than it felt to stop.
It can be incredibly tempting, especially for the overachievers, to want to do more than our designated better than nothing habit. So I must warn you: The moment in which you are no longer willing to do something unambitious is the moment in which you risk everything.
The moment you think you should do more is the moment you introduce difficulty. It’s the moment you eliminate the possibility that your activity will be easy and even enjoyable. So it’s also the moment that will require a lot more motivation from you. And if the motivation isn’t there, that’s when you’ll end up checking your phone instead of doing whatever it is you intended to do or you’ll stay on the couch binge-watching TikTok videos or Netflix.
The whole idea behind the better than nothing habit is that it doesn’t depend on motivation. It’s not reliant on having a lot of energy, and you do not have to be good at this. All you need is to be willing to be wildly unambitious — to settle for doing something that’s just a smidge better than nothing.
I’m happy to report that after months of struggle, I am now a runner. I became one by allowing myself to be bad at it. While you couldn’t call me an athlete — there are no half marathons in my future — I am consistent.
To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, our goal is not to be better than other people; it’s just to be better than our previous selves.And that I definitely am. It turns out that to grow as people, we need only do something minuscule. When we abandon our grand plans and great ambitions in favor of taking that first teeny-tiny step, we shift. And, paradoxically, it is in that tiny shift that our grand plans and great ambitions are truly born.
South Beach Prosthetics develops and provides comfortable, high-performance prosthetic care that meets all patient requirements in a compassionate and supportive environment. You can count on our support & expertise to get where you need to be. Get in touch with us today at (888) 819-4721 to learn more about how we can help. Find our Facebook community here.
Sports participation means different things to different people. For some, it’s the adrenaline rush of competition; for others, it’s the simple joy of play. For people with disabilities like limb amputations, it can also be an opportunity. Adaptive sports and recreation may be key to your lifelong wellness. These activities may also help you engage with a community. Learn all the benefits below. If you want inspiration, take a look at our social feeds where we have been following the journey of our friends on the Haitian Amputee Soccer Team!
Health guidelines recommend adults get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. Which activities you choose doesn’t matter as long as they get you moving.
But what if an injury, illness, health condition, disability, or even normal aging makes being active hard for you? In those cases, adaptive sports could lend a much-needed hand.
What are adaptive sports?
Adaptive sports are competitive or recreational sports or activities for people with disabilities or physical limitations. They often run parallel to traditional endeavors, but are modified to support people’s specific physical abilities.
“Eventually, almost everyone will experience some kind of disability that impedes regular exercise, whether it’s mild arthritis, requiring a knee or hip replacement, limited vision, or a more significant physical disability,” says Dr. Cheri Blauwet, an associate professor in physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, and a former wheelchair racer who is a seven-time Paralympic medalist and two-time winner of both the Boston and New York City Marathons. “But today, because of advanced technology and supportive infrastructure, people can find almost any kind of sport or activity that takes into account their abilities and helps them stay active.”
Why is it important to stay active?
Not getting sufficient regular exercise increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, and cancer. It also affects mood. And people with disabilities are especially vulnerable because of the challenges of staying active, says Dr. Blauwet. “Adaptive sports are a way for us to continue to exercise regularly and support our health and well-being going forward.”
Research backs this up. According to one study, people participating in adaptive sports and activities report better overall health, quality of life, and social life.
How can you learn about options for adaptive activities near you?
You can find state and local adaptive sports programs and accessible activities through the websites of the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability and the Challenged Athletes Foundation. “These programs also can help you find mentors, coaches, and the support system that you need to be successful,” says Dr. Blauwet.
What kind of sport or activity you choose ultimately depends on your interests and level of function, but many options are available.
Build on strengths and consider new activities
Dr. Blauwet shares other strategies that can help you transition to adaptive activities.
Look at your current form of exercise.“Almost any kind of sport or activity can be adjusted to accommodate people with disabilities, so there is a good chance you can continue with a favorite endeavor,” says Dr. Blauwet.
For instance, as part of her ongoing therapy, former Arizona representative Gabby Giffords, an avid cyclist who lives with a brain injury after an assassination attempt, now rides a recumbent bike because of paralysis on her right side and balance issues. (A recumbent bike is a three-wheel bicycle that places the rider in a seated or laid-back reclining position.)
Other sports and activities can be altered similarly. For example, specialized golf carts can help you stand and stabilize your body while swinging the club. Sledge hockey uses sleds to skate across the ice.
Focus on your strengths. Don’t dwell on what you can’t do, but focus on what you can. Running no longer an option? How about power walking using walking poles for support? Can’t use your legs? Focus on upper body activities like swimming or kayaking. Low vision? Guides are available to help you walk, run, and cycle.
Join a team. Many adaptive sports have organized team leagues with adjusted rules and formats, like wheelchair basketball and tennis, and “beep” baseball and kickball for individuals with low vision. “These are a great way to build more awareness about your new endeavor and build a community with other peers with similar disabilities,” says Dr. Blauwet. “Plus, a little competition provides extra motivation.”
Try something new. Use your new functional status as an opportunity to attempt a different sport or activity. “Test the waters and try something that has always interested you,” says Dr. Blauwet. “Now might be the ideal time to explore waterskiing, windsurfing, horseback riding, or rock wall climbing.”
It may be mentally and emotionally tough to embrace adaptive sports and activities, as it can feel like your disability has become magnified. But don’t let that dissuade you, adds Dr. Blauwet. “Staying committed to being active and investing in your health can help reduce and eliminate any negative stigma you feel. Participation in adaptive sports is not a lesser way of living, but a way to live better.”
We know recovering and rehabilitation is not an easy road, but you are not alone. Our caring, experienced, and specialized staff is ready to attend to all your needs. We will work closely with you to design a prosthesis that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. Contact us today at (888) 819-4721 to get the best prosthetic care. Find our Facebook community here.
Is gardening an activity you’d like to participate in? If you’ve never thought about it — here is your chance to explore the possibilities! Gardening is an exercise that has benefits for both the body and the mind. It can be a mood booster, for sure. And the fruits of your labor (sometimes literally! ?) can be priceless. Learn how to get started!
Sue Kent wasn’t angling for a media career when she sent some video of her backyard garden to BBC Two. It was 2020 and the whole world was in lockdown, so production had been suspended on the channel’s hugely popular Gardeners’ World series. Hungry for content, the producers asked viewers to record short segments from their own gardens and send them in. Kent, who was born with congenital limb difference in both arms, made a huge impression with her video tour of her seaside garden in Swansea. When Gardeners’ World resumed production in 2021, she was invited back as a guest host; now she’s a regular, with a prestigious award under her belt and a seat in the Royal Horticultural Society’s ambassadors program.
With no thumbs, seven fingers, and arms less than a foot long, Kent invented her own style of gardening. She doesn’t call it “adaptive,” however, because she considers that adjective redundant when it comes to cultivation. In her view, all gardening is adaptive—you’re working with living organisms and natural ecosystems over which you have limited control, so you just do the best you can and banish delusions of perfection.
“Gardening is all about failing,” she told a British magazine. “Adapt and survive, that’s my motto.”
That credo allowed Kent to build a successful career as a professional massage therapist, using her feet (rather than hands) to weed out the aches and pains that take root in people’s bodies. She employs all four of her limbs in the garden, with an array of hacks that have value for people with disabilities of all kinds, as well as boring old able-bodieds. Here are a few of Kent’s tips that can help any gardener get better results. Learn more from her on Instagram @suekentathome or at her website, suekent.com.
1. Select “easy maintenance” plants.
There’s no such thing as a low-maintenance garden, Kent says; all plants require attention and care. But certain species demand more frequent pruning, more arduous soil management, more intricate staging, and so forth. Kent favors self-seeding plants that renew on their own. She also makes strategic use of plants that have dense root networks, which help prevent weeds from gaining the upper hand.
2. Ensure flexibility and access via long-range planning.
With a growing season or two, a given plant may evolve from a ground-hugging seedling to a mature plant that towers overhead, creating added challenges for a person with upper-limb difference. Kent learned to solve that problem as a child, raising vegetables in small, portable boxes that she could place on surfaces of any height (from table to chair to ground) as circumstances warranted. They also were easy to transport from greenhouse to garden, depending on the season. Today, Kent carefully plans her arrangements to ensure that she will have sustainable access throughout each plant’s life cycle.
3. Create terraces via imaginative use of pots and planters.
Since Kent’s upper-limb difference constrains her reach, she employs an array of containers to raise or lower plants to an appropriate height. Her full variety of solutions is on display in her DIY Gardeners’ World segment; it includes everything from milk crates to terra cotta planters, plastic tubs, trellises, and tall ceramic pots. There’s even an ingenious “strawberry tower” with sliding compartments. The same strategies could help lower-limb amputees with back pain, limited range of motion, or other challenges.
4. Use the right tools.
With no thumbs and limited upper-body strength, Kent can’t get much use from many standard gardening implements. Ergo she avoids arrangements that would require regular use of shears, hoes, rakes, and shovels, inclining toward species that can be managed well with trowels and pruning clippers. Likewise, Kent’s compost bins and buckets are proportioned in accordance with her physical abilities.
“Having a physical difference, whatever it is, can create barriers in the garden,” Kent says. “But it’s worth working around them, because the rewards are so great and it brings such joy. I believe in focusing on what I can do in life. My physical ability informs my creative thinking.”
The loss of a limb does change your life, but your passions remain the same. With cutting-edge prosthetic techniques and materials, combined with our total passion for patient satisfaction and comfort, we work to get you back to living a life you love. Contact us today at (888) 819-4721 to get the best prosthetic care. Find our Facebook community here.
When we say no one understands better than us the journey you are undertaking, we mean it! And we stand by those words with our actions. Every patient we meet receives the genuine care and expert attention they deserve — because the resulting joy, appreciation, and satisfaction from our patients are what makes us most happy. We love hearing from our new family members, like Drew. Here is his story:
Hello, everyone! My name is Drew. I was living in Mansfield, MO, and had an elective BKA amputation surgery due to a terrible motorcycle accident in 1999. The doctors in Missouri referred me to Hanger Clinic in Springfield MO, to be fitted with my prosthesis. They made me a check socket with a lanyard suspension, and when I finally got delivery of the prosthesis, I had a very hard time walking, putting it on and off, and I had a tremendous amount of pain, and I felt like I was going to fall.
Here’s a little bit about me: I’m a 54-year-old man, 6 foot 6 and 310lbs. My calf muscles are much larger than my knee, so that would be an issue as my residual limb transformed. Let me skip ahead a little — I was doing my best with the prosthesis, but I always felt something wasn’t right.
I recently relocated to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and I found South Beach O&P by accident when I limped my way into the Davie, FL location. I was met by Mark, the owner. He shook my hand, looked at my leg, and said, “why are you in that setup?” I said, “I don’t know; this is what Hanger Clinic gave me,” and he said, “Sit down and take that leg off.”
Mark then made a 3D image of my residual limb, explaining everything to me, and within 45 minutes, I had a check socket made for me, and I was WALKING!!! I kept saying, “Hang on, let me get you my insurance info,” and he said to me, “I don’t care about that; right now, what is most important is that you are not in pain, and you feel comfortable walking.” He kept saying to me: “I don’t want you in pain,” and then he brought out the check socket, which was a pin configuration. He said a lanyard suspension that Hanger Clinic made for me is used mainly for an above-the-knee amputee and that I was in the wrong setup.
Mark put a new liner on my leg, we put the new prosthesis on, and I was walking pain-free almost immediately — then he took me and my girlfriend on a tour of the facility, showing me the state-of-the-art 3D printing they use. Then they hugged us and said, “Welcome to the family!”
I got to tell you the follow-up and communication that I have experienced in just a few weeks from this man and his staff are unprecedented — what a wonderful experience! I’m waiting for the delivery of the leg on the first of September. I would recommend South Beach O&P to my family and friends if they need that type of service! I am so grateful that I found them, and I’m able to walk pain-free, and their customer service (like I said) is amazing and personable! I feel very safe and comfortable knowing they are the new prosthesis company for me! I’m looking forward to what the future holds for me with South Beach O&P!
Thank you, Mark, Thomas, Allen, and all your staff !!!!!!
South Beach Prosthetics stands with you every step of the way. Wherever you are in your prosthetic journey, you can count on our support & expertise to get where you need to be. Get in touch with us today at (888) 819-4721 to learn more about how we can help. Join us! Find our Facebook community here.
Regardless of how it occurs, experiencing limb loss is a traumatic experience. But, it is possible to adapt, adjust, and move forward with independence when you have the collective support of loved ones and professionals who care about your recovery and are there with you throughout your journey. This inspiring story from one of our patients is a lovely example:
My story started on the morning of October 7th, 2019. It was a day that changed my life. I was involved in a car accident that resulted in a right above-knee amputation. When they say some things can happen so fast and change the direction of your life — it is true.
As I was healing, I still needed to see my orthopedic surgeon. In January of 2020, I asked if there was any way of getting either a free or low-cost prosthetic to work toward becoming mobile again. The surgeon’s office referred me to Josh, who worked with South Beach Prosthetics. We connected and talked for a while — I explained to Josh what had happened to me. I told him what I had been through and the challenges I was facing now. Josh was very nice; he listened to everything and told me he would do what he could to get a prosthetic leg for me. I was not too sure what would happen next.
Within a week, I received a call back from Josh, who told me that I was approved and had an appointment in the Sebring office. That is where I met Mark; still, at that point, I did not know what it meant that I was approved. Mark then told me I was getting a prosthetic leg; I could hardly believe it! He sent me home that day with a plunger leg to practice on and wanted me to come to the Davie office the following week to try out some prosthetic legs.
The first day I walked again since my accident was in the Davie office on February 12th, 2020 — four months after my amputation. I have not stopped walking since. Mark and his staff have been great and there with me every step of the way.
South Beach Prosthetics manufactures and provides comfortable, high-performance prosthetic solutions that meet individual patient requirements in a compassionate and supportive environment. We are here for you. Connect with us to learn more at (855) 958-1777 and join our Facebook community.