The Inspiring Journey of Amputee Pilots

For nearly two decades, Able Flight, a remarkable nonprofit organization, has been on a mission that defies convention and breaks down barriers. With unwavering dedication, they have been empowering people with disabilities to take to the air, transforming their aspirations into soaring realities. Join us in this reading as we take flight alongside these extraordinary individuals, soaring through the skies of determination, courage, and boundless potential.

Nationwide, only 25 to 30 percent of student pilots successfully complete their training and earn a license. At Able Flight, a nonprofit that’s been training pilots with disabilities for nearly 20 years, the success rate is above 95 percent.

“And we train to a really high level,” says Charles Stites, the organization’s founder and executive director. “We don’t train to the FAA minimum for that certificate. We actually double the required number of hours.”

Able Flight students succeed for a lot of reasons, Stites explains. For one thing, it doesn’t cost anything—everyone who’s accepted into the program gets a full scholarship. Then there’s the sky-high caliber of instruction, which includes eight weeks of onsite flight training at the nationally renowned Purdue University School of Aviation. “But the main thing is that people come in highly motivated,” says Stites. “They get really good instruction, and we pair people up with mentor pilots who share their disability.”

Those who earn their wings through Able Flight acquire far more than a new hobby. They come away with an altered self-perception, full of confidence and a newfound sense of freedom. Dozens of amputees have completed the program, including one (Jessica Cox) who made headlines as the first pilot to become licensed as a bilateral upper-limb amputee. Alumni have come from all over the country and included wounded veterans, college students, congenital amputees, and people who held a pilot’s license before becoming disabled and wish to return to the air.

“By the time someone finishes Able Flight, they don’t see themselves as a a pilot with a disability,” says Stites. “They just see themselves as a pilot.” Earlier this month we spoke with Stites about the program, which recently opened its application cycle for the class of 2024. If you’re interested in applying, you can get more info (including photos and videos) at Able Flight’s website. You have until December 31 to submit an application. Our conversation is lightly edited for clarity and length.

Tell me about the origins of Able Flight.

I’ve been a pilot for over 40 years, and I was an aviation writer and photographer for US and European magazines. Back around 2005, the FAA changed the rules for medical qualification and created a new category that increased opportunities for people who previously would have found it difficult, if not impossible, to qualify for a pilot’s license.

At around the same time, the US distributor for an Italian-made airplane came up to me at a big aviation event, and said, “You need to look at these new adaptive controls for flying. Can you get an article into your magazine?” I said, “It won’t be an article until you get them in an airplane and somebody’s using them.” He said they would be in airplanes in the fall, and we’ll see if we can do something then.

About a week later, it hit me that we have this incredible opportunity. We have this new FAA regulation that’s creating a new category of pilots, and we have an adaptive airplane that can be flown by those pilots that’s due to arrive in a few months. I decided it was time to change everything I’m doing. And so I incorporated Able Flight as a nonprofit in 2006.

What was the FAA rule that changed?

Prior to the advent of the sport pilot rule, people would go to an FAA medical examiner for a physical exam before they went for their pilot’s license. If they had what the FAA considered a disability, they would have to get further testing. Well, that could sometimes take six months to a year, depending on the nature of the disability. It might require a whole series of tests. A lot of people just gave up at that point, because you’re going to spend a couple thousand dollars or more, and you’re discouraged by the fact that you just keep constantly having to prove yourself fit to fly.

The sport pilot rule was based on the success of people who were trained to become glider pilots. They did studies and found that people were not crashing gliders because of a medical disability. And all you need for that is a valid driver’s license. So now you no longer have to prove yourself to a medical examiner. You just have to prove yourself to your flight instructor.

Like any nondisabled flight student. 

And on the personal side, I’m married to someone that has multiple sclerosis. Most people wouldn’t know that she does, but she definitely feels the effects. And the idea just grew on me that, you know, we have this wonderful thing we can all do. We can fly. So why not expand that opportunity to people who would never have thought of themselves as candidates to do that.

Elaborate on that phrase for me, “this wonderful thing we can do.” What is the allure of taking to the skies? What impact has it made on your life, and what’s the impact for people who go through your program?

Well, for me personally, it sounds like a cliche, but it really is true that when you leave the earth, your ordinary cares don’t get to intrude much. It’s like you’re in your own little bubble, your own place. And anything that seems petty or harsh or rough to deal with, it tends to go away.

I came from limited circumstances and I never thought I’d get to fly. I thought that opportunity was beyond me. But when I got old enough and took my first lesson, I was hooked. I became a private pilot in about 1980, added an instrument rating some years later, and started doing aviation writing and photography. In aviation journalism, there are people who do really well writing about technology and advancements, but my heart was never really in that. I loved writing about people, and how flying changed their lives.

We set up Able Flight as a 501(c)3 in 2006. I started raising funds using connections I had in the industry, and by 2007 we were training people. And then in 2010, I proposed to Purdue University, which is one of the premier flight-training universities in the United States, that they become our training partner. I honestly had no idea that they were gonna say yes, and they said yes immediately. So we’ve been with them ever since. We’ve been able to grow it to the point where we now have 89 people who are licensed, some with more than one license or certificate.

How do you think Able Flight changes the lives of amputees who go through the program?

When we first started out, I would talk about the challenge and freedom of flight. But as we started getting more people through the program, and I would talk to them about their experience, they almost never said challenge. They said freedom. Becoming a pilot freed them from the restrictions and boundaries of their day-to-day lives. We all have them in some way or another, and for some people the restrictions are more impactful. But that’s what I would hear: Freedom, freedom, freedom.

The other thing I’ve found is that people would start to see themselves as just a pilot. And that’s something I’ve always strongly encouraged: You’re not a pilot with a disability; you’re a pilot. You’re an aviator. You’re flying the airplane according to the same rules and the same responsibilities as everyone else. You’ve learned the same skills, met the same requirements, passed the same tests, and you’re held to the same standards. The only difference is that you might be using some different controls based on the nature of a disability. But that doesn’t make any difference. To any person that hears you on the radio, you’re just a pilot. So it’s really a leveling kind of thing. It’s an equality thing.

If you’re good enough to do it, you’re good enough to do it.

Absolutely. You’re flying the plane exactly the same as any pilot, regardless of physical capabilities or body shape. People have designed adaptive controls—we’re in the middle of one of those projects right now, in fact, and it’s pretty exciting. We’re trying to get another airplane adapted, and this particular plane is made here in the United States. But ultimately, the person adapts themselves to the airplane. People who have less range of motion, for example, they’ll figure out another way to get the leverage they need to work all the controls. And they’ll do it on their own.

We have all these wonderful instructors who volunteer to teach Able Flight pilots, and at first some of them worry about whether or not a person is going to be able to pull something off. I’ve seen that happen so many times now. This year, specifically, I remember having that conversation over a gentleman named Bobby Dove. Bobby’s a wounded veteran, and he’s missing both limbs on the right side of his body. And so Bobby and I and his instructor, Cameron, were at one of the airplanes on the very first day of orientation, before they started flying. Cameron and I exchanged a glance and went, “Oh boy, how’s this gonna work?” Does he maybe come up with a strap on the rudder pedals, so by pulling and pushing, it would make the other pedal move and you could get them in motion? It turns out that airplane doesn’t work that way. It didn’t have that kind of range of motion. So that didn’t work.

I just told Cameron: Let Bobby figure it out. He’s an expert in his own life; he knows how to get things done. So just let him see if he can come up with a solution, because we’ve seen that happen a number of times. Sure enough, three or four days later, Bobby’s doing his first few flights, and he’s doing great. He was ready for his solo flight earlier than all but one of the other students this year.

That’s why I just tell the instructors not to worry. People always find a way. They come up with these clever adaptations and creative solutions. And that’s one of the wonderfully rewarding things about this program.

Let’s focus on a few nuts and bolts of the program. What’s the duration, how many of those hours are in the air versus in the classroom or simulator, what type of airplanes you’re flying, that sort of thing.

We’ll start with the certificate that everyone trains for. It’s called a sport pilot certificate, which is basically one level below private pilot. But don’t let that fool you. These are very sophisticated airplanes, and the way we do the training is really right up to private-pilot levels. Matter of fact, we’ve had a number of people that have gone on to get the private pilot certification.

We use light sport aircraft, which are very sophisticated airplanes now. They typically cost $120,000 to $175,000, and they can be flown coast to coast, they can be flown in controlled airspace around big cities and so on. They’re not limited.

The students start by doing about three months of online study to prepare them for the FAA written exam, which is technically called the “Knowledge Test.” And that’s a good word for it, because there’s a huge amount of knowledge you have to absorb. That’s one of the things a lot of people don’t understand about learning to fly. You probably spend two or three hours on the ground, studying, for every hour you spend in the airplane. So they do months of preparation in advance before they depart for training. We give them tutoring during that time, and even some live online sessions with an instructor. They take the Knowledge Test at a local testing center near where they live.

Around the third week of May they arrive at Purdue. They get their own room in a dorm on campus, and obviously it’s an accessible room. They start flying about the second day, and they fly every day, seven days a week, for six to seven weeks, weather permitting. Often twice a day. The only time they don’t fly is when weather doesn’t allow it. It’s very intensive, very demanding. It’s really more of a bootcamp thing for aviation. And people love it. They go through the experience and say it’s the best thing they’ve ever done. But they also know they earned that license, because they work really, really hard. They’ll uniformly say, no matter how many times you tell them in advance, “I didn’t realize it was gonna be this hard.” It’s mentally and physically demanding. But there’s an amazing amount of satisfaction that comes with it.

The two biggest milestones are the first day they fly solo, which typically happens between a third and halfway through, and then there’s the check ride, when you go out with an FAA examiner—basically the same as when you go out for your driver’s license. First you have to pass an oral exam, and then you go up in the airplane and demonstrate a set of maneuvers. Everybody in our program does really well, because they’ve gotten really good instruction. The instructors don’t send them off for the check ride until they’re ready. Everybody we’ve ever sent for a check ride has passed. And that’s another remarkable statistic.

One of the things I always stress for anybody who wants to take part in this is that because you earn it, you’re welcomed into the world of aviation as an equal with everyone else. It’s a very welcoming environment, and they’re always looking at new things and new technologies. It’s a great community to be in.

Ready to take the next step towards a more mobile and fulfilling life? Discover the possibilities with our state-of-the-art prosthetic solutions. Together, we can explore the world of enhanced mobility and independence that awaits you. Contact us today at (888) 819-4721. Follow us on Instagram @SouthBeachOP for more tips on prosthetic care.

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Healthy Eating for Amputees

As an amputee, a question you might be asking yourself is, “How do I stay healthy?” Adequate nutrition provides amputees a powerful emotional and mental boost to keep on living — and thriving — despite living through difficult circumstances. Food is fuel! Here are some strategies to help keep you eating and performing well.

Nutrition can be a powerful ally, helping to fuel you mentally and physically for the challenges of living with an amputation. Make nutrition work for you by focusing on eating real foods that are high in lean protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in the right proportions. Here are some strategies to help keep you eating and performing well.

Issue #1: Determining your calorie needs

One of the biggest adjustments you may need to make is your calorie intake. It is important to balance your need for healing with decreased activity and muscle mass. Calorie needs vary depending on where you are in the recovery process, how much activity you are doing, and your current medical issues. Just as with the able-bodied Warfighter, calorie needs are individual, and they may vary day to day or month to month.

  • Strategy #1a: Schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian or ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a specialist who can help determine how many calories you need for your current medical status, your weight goal (gain, lose, or maintain), and type and intensity level of your activities.
  • Strategy #1b: Know your current eating habits. Keep track of what you eat for at least three days. There are many free food-tracker apps you can use on your smartphone. You may be surprised to learn that you are under- or over-fueling your body.

Issue #2: Weight gain

A common nutrition issue facing amputees is weight gain. There are many different reasons why you may gain weight after an amputation: less physical activity, depression, side effects of medication, and adjusting to a new lifestyle, including difficulty preparing and shopping for food. Weight gain increases the stress that prosthetics already add to your joints and can affect the fit of your prosthesis, further reducing your ability to exercise, so it’s important to take charge of your weight.

  • Strategy #2a: Acknowledge that you probably need fewer calories to maintain your weight than you did before your amputation. Choose smaller portions, eat snacks less, and cut back on packaged and processed foods to decrease your overall intake.
  • Strategy #2b: Be mindful of why you eat. Do you reach for food when you’re stressed, upset, or in pain? If so, pause and think about what else you could do: call a friend, do some deep breathing, or get some fresh air. Or try mind-body strategies, other tools, or apps to help take control of your habits.
  • Strategy #2c: Pay attention to portions. Even if your plate is perfectly balanced, you may be eating more than you need. Take less; you can always go back for more if you are still hungry. Pay attention to your body’s signals that you are full. And stay hydrated; you can sometimes mistake thirst for hunger.

Issue #3: What should I eat?

What should I eat?

Healthy eating for amputees is similar in many ways to healthy eating for able-bodied Warfighters. Nutrition is critical to maintaining a healthy weight, encouraging wound healing, decreasing your risk of chronic disease, and fueling your exercise and recovery. The types of food, combinations of food, and portions all matter. If you have difficulty consuming meals that are balanced and diverse, speak to your healthcare provider, as you may need supplements.

  • Strategy #3a: Eat real food. This sounds simple, but it can be difficult when you’re surrounded by convenience food, fast food, and packaged food. Choose unprocessed, whole foods most of the time.
  • Strategy #3b: Aim for balanced meals. My Plate is an excellent visual food guide. Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables, a quarter of your plate with protein from lean meats, beans/lentils, or low-fat dairy products, and a quarter with grains and starches that are high in fiber; whole grains are your best bet. Include small portions of heart-healthy fats such as those in fish, olive oil, avocado, and nuts/seeds.
  • Strategy #3c: Eat a good variety of foods for wound healing. Among the many nutrients that are essential for wound healing are carbohydrates, protein, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, vitamins such as C and E, and minerals, including iron and zinc. Deficiencies in any of these nutrients have been shown to delay healing. Eating a variety of foods will help you get enough of all these vital nutrients.

Issue #4: Food preparation

The thought of eating a healthy meal may sound good, but does the idea of planning, shopping, and preparing such a meal overwhelm you? The ability to prepare foods may be more difficult after an amputation due to physical barriers, limited time given to medical appointments, and decreased motivation because of depression, pain, and fatigue. The good news is that there are lots of ways to improve your access to healthy food.

  • Strategy #4a: Plan ahead. We tend to stick with healthy choices when they are easy and convenient. Plan your meals ahead of time; this way, you know you have the ingredients for a healthy, balanced meal at home — and fast food won’t be so tempting. And make a grocery list before you head to the store; it helps you save time and money and curbs impulse buying.
  • Strategy #4b: Keep nutrient-rich foods on hand. Stock your freezer with frozen fruit, vegetables, edamame beans, and individual cuts of fish, chicken, and lean beef. Fill your pantry with canned beans, packets of tuna, nuts, seeds, peanut or almond butter, dried fruit, whole-wheat pasta, and whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and barley.
  • Strategy #4c: Cook in batches. When you, family members, or friends do cook, divide the food into individual portions you can freeze. When you’re low on time or energy to cook, just heat and eat for a quick and healthy meal.

Issue #5: Long-term health issues

As mentioned above, weight gain is a common issue for amputees. Weight gain can increase your risk of infection, pressure ulcers, osteoarthritis, and cardiovascular disease. With age, amputees have increased incidences of hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and diabetes.

  • Strategy #5a: Start heart-healthy habits now. Ways to reduce your risk for heart disease include following a well-balanced eating plan with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, being physically active, and staying at healthy weight.
  • Strategy #5b: Focus on food. Concentrate on getting your nutrients from food first. Supplements sometimes contain unknown or unsafe ingredients that may interact with your prescription medications or otherwise cause harmful side effects. Always talk with your healthcare professional before taking supplements. For more information on supplement safety, visit Operation Supplement Safety (OPSS).

South Beach Prosthetics stands with you every step of the way. Wherever you are in your journey, you can count on our support & expertise to get all the prosthetic care you need. Get in touch with us today at (888) 819-4721 to learn more about how we can help. Find our Facebook community here.

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COVID-19 is making amputations more common. Two Philly-area survivors tell their stories.

Each year, nearly 100,000 Americans undergo a leg amputation, over half of which are due to diabetes and peripheral artery disease. However, COVID-19 has had an impact on the numbers. Learn the reasons why by reading below. Remember, if we can get your questions answered or help you in your journey – we have 1001 ways to do so! 

Even some otherwise healthy COVID patients are suffering one of the disease’s most serious complications — circulatory crises caused by clotting that strangles blood flow to the limbs.

When Candice Davis contracted COVID-19 in August, she quarantined herself in her South Philadelphia apartment and settled in for what she thought would be a short recovery.

But within days, Davis, 30, was in the ER, shocked by the directive she’d just gotten from a doctor: Go on a ventilator, or risk death.

Three weeks later, she woke up to her mother, Paige, standing over her. “Baby, I know this is going to be sad,” she said, “but you have to make a decision.”

In the weeks she lay unconscious — during which doctors had to transfer her from a ventilator to an ECMO machine, a device that pumps oxygen directly into the blood — Davis had developed life-threatening heart complications, and then circulatory issues in her arms and legs. Now, her mother told her, she was again facing a life-or-death decision. For her to survive, doctors would have to amputate her arms.

“I said, If my arms gotta go, they gotta go,” she said. “It’s my life.”

Davis is one of a small, but growing, population of COVID-19 patients who suffer one of the disease’s most serious complications — circulatory crises caused by clotting that diminishes blood flow to the limbs. Tissue dies and infection sets in, doctors said. The affected limbs have to be removed for the patient to survive.

The risks are highest for older people with preexisting conditions like diabetes and peripheral arterial disease. And at the same time, doctors warn, they are having to perform more amputations on people with diabetes, some of whom didn’t have COVID but who may have avoided needed medical care during the pandemic.

But as Davis illustrates, it can happen even to young, healthy people who do not have diabetes or other preexisting conditions.

COVID-19 is making amputations more common. Two Philly-area survivors tell their stories.

Now, with COVID-19 cases rising and the omicron variant sparking new fears, Davis is telling her story to urge other young people to take the pandemic seriously.

In the weeks after Davis woke up, she lost her arms below the elbows, a leg below the knee, and part of one foot.

Davis, who was not vaccinated when she contracted the virus, is urging others to get the vaccine. “I know it’s scary — I was scared, too,” she said. “I didn’t have time to get to it. But get the vaccine — you don’t want to lose your limbs. And, most importantly, you don’t want to lose your life.”

How a virus can mean lost limbs

Amputations have become more common during COVID-19, according to the Amputee Coalition, a support and advocacy group for people with limb loss, in part due to the virus’ potential to cause increased blood clotting. The details of how COVID-19 causes clotting are still being researched, said Julia Glaser, a Penn Medicine vascular surgeon who treated Davis, but the virus appears to damage the lining of the blood vessels that ensures blood flows easily through the body. In some people, this can result in large clots that can cause strokes. In patients like Davis, tiny, virtually undetectable clots can form throughout the body. In a limb, they can hinder circulation enough that it dies and must be removed to save the patient’s life.

One study from July 2020 found that COVID-19 infections increased the likelihood of a leg amputation by 25%, and that the risk was greater for people who also experienced pulmonary or systemic complications from their infection. People with cardiac conditions and diabetes are at particular risk.

Because blood wasn’t adequately circulating through Davis’ limbs, Glaser said, the tissue started to die and infection set in. She needed life-support medications to keep her blood pressure up at a sustainable level. That’s when Davis and her doctors made the decision to amputate.

“I was sad, but I’m more than my arms. I’m more than my limbs,” Davis said. “If they gotta go for me to live …”

It was harder to accept the lower-limb loss.

“With my legs, I was more emotional, because I would like to be independent. I would like to not have anyone else bathe me or feed me, but that’s the way it is,” she said during an interview last week at Penn Presbyterian, where her sunny outlook astonishes her care team.

“And I’ll be learning in rehab how to be more independent,” she said.

Mark Torregosa, 65, experienced a similar journey with his COVID-19 infection — but is more than a year ahead of Davis in adjusting to the dramatic changes the virus has made in his life.

Before contracting COVID-19 in April 2020, long before vaccines were available, the Clementon, Camden County, native was athletic, a master in the Korean martial art Tang Soo Do.

He had none of the preexisting conditions that even early in the pandemic doctors were connecting with the most serious complications. But he was so ill that he first was on a ventilator, and then an ECMO machine, and suffered two heart attacks while unconscious.

Two months after his hospitalization, his extremities were swollen and black from lack of circulation. On June 23, 2020, he lost his left leg below the knee and part of his right foot. About a week later, doctors amputated both his hands.

Torregosa wasn’t fully conscious in the period before or immediately after his surgeries. His first clear memory after the amputations, he said, was waking up and trying to push himself up in bed.

“I tried to push my hands into the bed, but I could not,” he recalled. “I said: ‘What happened? Where are my hands?’”

Then he realized he had lost much of his left leg too.

Why diabetes is leading to more amputations

Both Davis, who worked as a flight attendant, and Torregosa, a former employee at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, had no preexisting conditions before they contracted COVID. But for people with conditions like diabetes, the risks of circulatory complications and amputations are even higher.

People with diabetes — a condition that affects circulation and requires careful medical monitoring entirely aside from COVID — have borne a heavy burden during the pandemic. A November 2020 study of diabetes patients with foot problems found they were 10.8 times more likely to have any amputation during the pandemic than before it, and almost 13 times more likely to need a major amputation, defined as removal of a leg below the knee or higher.

Too many amputations over the last two years were not a result of COVID-19, though, and could have been avoided, said Ajaykumar D. Rao, a Temple Health physician with expertise in internal medicine, endocrinology, and diabetes. Amputations were already increasing before COVID-19 came to the United States, he said, and the pandemic’s lockdowns and restrictions, along with people’s fears of exposure to the virus, led people with diabetes to skip routine care.

“People early in the pandemic were afraid to come into the hospital even though they knew there was something wrong with their feet or their limbs,” Rao said. “There’s a delay in detection.”

Taking it a day at a time

As Davis recovers from amputation, she said she is excited to get healthier, to walk on prosthetics and to live as independently as possible.

Her brother, Ali, visits her every day. He contracted COVID around the same time as his sister, but he had been vaccinated and had a far milder case.

“That’s why people need to be vaccinated: My brother lost his taste and smell for a while,” Candice Davis said. “I lost my limbs.”

Davis’ mother, Paige, works in housekeeping at UCHealth Memorial Hospital Central in Colorado Springs, where Candice and Ali grew up. Paige Davis has worked alongside doctors and nurses for 15 years, and saw the pandemic’s devastation up close. But she was stunned by how quickly her daughter neared death.

“It was hurtful. It was scary. I work at a hospital, and to have my child go through this — I didn’t know how to react to it at all,” Paige Davis said. “It was overwhelming. All we did was start praying. I have my moments when I’m by myself, when I fall apart. You stand back up and shake it off, and keep on moving.

“The strongest one out of all of us is Candice. She has her crying days, she has her good days, but she’s stronger than all of us.”

She flew to Philadelphia as Candice was placed on the ECMO machine in August and comes back for visits as often as she can. The family spent Thanksgiving weekend together at Penn Presbyterian.

Davis, who has a sociology degree from Colorado State University, has long thought about nursing. Experiencing how her nurses cared for her — and forming friendships with them — has only cemented her goal.

“I know I can’t do some nursing, but talking to the nurses in here — some have explained to me there are other areas of nursing I can get involved in,” she said. “I’m very into anatomy, physiology, women’s health — watching them, seeing what they do, it’s like, I can do that.

Her immediate goal is inpatient rehab at Magee Rehabilitation — where Torregosa spent more than two months last summer.

Inpatient rehab can take a few weeks or up to several months and typically continues with therapy at home and outpatient rehabilitation for months after that, said Paula Bonsall an occupational therapist and therapy supervisor at Magee Stroke and COVID programs. With amputees also recovering from a severe case of COVID-19, the first step is simply restoring basic strength.

“Even the ability just to sit up is impaired because their chest muscles are weak, their respiratory system is weak, they’ve been in bed for how long, right?” said Bonsall. “We kind of start with the basics.”

Torregosa could barely raise his arms away from his body at first, he said.

As he gained strength, he learned to get from the bed to a chair, to stand with assistance, and then to use his new prosthetics.

He started by walking in a harness that supported his weight.

“Thirty steps,” he remembered, “back and forth, back and forth.”

Torregosa received body-powered prosthetic hands, which he can open and close by contracting or relaxing muscles like those in the shoulder or tricep, Bonsall said.

“They have to sort of learn cognitively as well as physically how to trigger those muscles in order to use it appropriately,” she said.

By the time he left Magee in October 2020, Torregosa could walk laps on his prosthetic legs without additional support. He can eat on his own, he said, and has started golfing and even resuming some martial arts. Torregosa credits his Catholic faith with sustaining him and frequently reflects on Jesus’ suffering.

“Don’t focus on something you don’t have that you want,” Torregosa said. “As long as you have air in the lungs, you’re alive. That’s just what matters.”

Davis, too, has relied on her faith, and parishioners from her North Philadelphia church who visit almost daily. So do friends from Pinky Promise, a national Christian women’s group that Davis joined before the pandemic.

“If I were with them, I would say, Take it a day at a time,” Torregosa said of others who have suffered amputations as a result of COVID-19. “That’s how I do it. Even now, I’m just alive for today because today’s plenty already.”

South Beach Prosthetics stands with you every step of the way. Wherever you are in your journey, you can count on our support & expertise to get all the prosthetic care you need. Get in touch with us today at (888) 819-4721 to learn more about how we can help. Find our Facebook community here.

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How to Focus on Yourself on New Year’s Eve

Every year people make resolutions to change something about themselves or start doing something differently. There is always room for being grateful too. This New Year’s Eve, consider caring for yourself as you would for others. Here are some ideas on how to leave behind what doesn’t serve you. Pop the champagne, toast to the new you! 

If you are going to be on your own for New Year’s Eve, it can be a great opportunity to spend time celebrating yourself. In addition to looking back on the things you’ve accomplished in the prior year, give yourself attention for a change. That means allowing yourself to indulge in a night of luxurious “me-time,” especially if you’re someone who often puts everyone else’s needs before your own.

This New Year’s Eve, consider caring for yourself as you would for others. Here are some ideas on how to leave behind what doesn’t serve you and give yourself credit for the hard work you’ve done. Let’s toast to being present now and discovering tips on how to move forward and start the new year off fresh and positive.

Create a DIY Spa Night

Treat yourself to an hour of relaxation, which means no interruptions, even by well-meaning others. Start with the physical aspect of your self-care by pampering yourself.

Use your favorite face mask and bubble bath. You can also pour yourself fresh water spiked with cucumber or a glass of wine. To enhance your special time and escape from stressors, play your favorite ocean music, a soothing playlist, or a bath meditation.

Set Up a Cozy Environment

Get ready for the evening by setting up a calming, inviting room. Dim the lights, turn on the fireplace, or light candles. You will be incorporating elements from hygge, a Danish concept that focuses on living in a warm atmosphere of comfort and cozy contentment.

Get comfy with your favorite soft blanket, prop up the pillows, and brew some green tea in your favorite mug. Your pets can join you, as they will relax you further in this wonderful environment. You might also consider adapting a New Year’s Eve custom from Brazil: Wear white clothes or a white robe to welcome peace and harmony.

Call Your Loved Ones

Call Your Loved Ones

While being alone on New Year’s Eve can feel lonely, technology can be a great way to stay connected. To feel less isolated, calling is more satisfying than emailing or texting, according to a study published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

Afterward, callers viewed the social interactions as being better and said that they felt closer to the other person and formed stronger bonds through this medium. Even when participants conversed with strangers, they felt significantly more connected by talking rather than typing.

So, instead of sending a text with emojis, pick up your phone and call your favorite sibling and your bestie to wish them a Happy New Year. These voice-to-voice conversations help increase happiness and empathy.

Let Go of a Negative Mindset

If hardships have left you feeling stuck in a negative mindset, there are steps you can take to ring in the new year with greater positivity. According to Martin Seligman, who founded the positive psychology movement, you can learn optimism.

It boils down to how you perceive and explain bad events. Optimists consider difficult times as temporary, don’t blame themselves, and view failure in one area as not pervasive or affecting other areas of their lives.

This matters greatly because optimists end up with better physical and mental health, have higher resilience and motivation, and live longer.

Revisit a Hobby

Finding time for hobbies can be difficult when you’re juggling a busy schedule. You may not have had much time to indulge in old hobbies or activities that brought you happiness and joy.

Why not get back to something creative and inspiring on the eve of the new year? On this special New Year’s Eve night, you might:

  • Strum your guitar or play the piano
  • Go through your baseball card collection
  • Knit a scarf
  • Color in an adult coloring book
  • Do woodworking and build a small shelf
  • Buy a knickknack to add to your butterfly-themed collection

Reawaken Your Spirit

The Cleveland Clinic suggests that you include one of the many forms of meditation (e.g., mindfulness, mantra meditation, or guided meditation for imagery) in your daily schedule. This can help you relax, reduce depression, develop awareness, and enhance your spiritual practice.

If prayer is important to you but you’ve neglected it, consider returning to this religious observance on the eve of the new year. Additionally, if spiritual readings inspire you to take steps towards the future and find meaning, it’s time to listen to audiobooks or read to get in touch with the longings of your soul.

Embrace Gratitude 

One way to incorporate gratitude into daily life is to start a gratitude journal. You may find that you are often so busy rushing that you don’t stop to savor or immerse yourself in those precious moments.

By being cognizant of what you are thankful for, you effectively steer yourself to a positive perspective, even in the middle of dark times.  Many benefits result from writing daily in a gratitude journal. Two byproducts of taking this action include strengthening your emotional resilience and reducing stress.

Another way to embrace gratitude is to write yourself a gratitude letter. Yes—write one to yourself! You’ve accomplished so much just to get through this rough year.

Laurel Healy, LCSW, a therapist who spent a year in a psychiatric fellowship at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, explains, “When we feel overwhelmed, we are usually looking at what still has to be done rather than what we’ve accomplished. Often the feeling is one of just treading water and hopelessness.”

When we reflect on what we did and the strength it took, we appreciate ourselves. One way to do this is to write a letter of gratitude to ourselves where we detail what we’ve done and the qualities we have that made it possible.

How to Write a Letter of Gratitude

Set aside some time and gather a pen and paper (you can use fancy paper if you’d like) and take a few moments to reflect on the past year. Use these questions to help guide you:

  1. What did I accomplish this year?
  2. What things, people, and events am I grateful for?
  3. What are some positive things that I learned about myself this year?
  4. What do I love about myself?

After you’ve finished writing your letter, you can seal it up as if you were going to mail it to yourself, or you can stash it somewhere private and read it whenever you need some positivity.

Give Back

Giving is good for your physical and mental health, according to research. You might volunteer or donate money by writing a check to a charity of your choice. You might bake some chocolate chip cookies on New Year’s Eve and donate them to a nurse or first responder, or you can deliver them to an older neighbor.

Instead of Resolutions, Make a Bucket List

Rather than recycle the same old resolutions yet again (lose weight, exercise more, etc.) and set lofty goals which require more work on your part, why not dig back into your dreams to create a custom bucket list?

Research from shows that over two-thirds of travelers (69%) seek simple experiences such as spending time outdoors or with the family while on vacation. Over half (56%) are searching for rural, off-the-beaten-track experiences, also outside.

But maybe you’re ready for that grand trip of a lifetime to Italy to see the art and experience the excellent cuisine. Or maybe you want to book a local trip and learn to water ski at a beach resort. Or perhaps you want to finally write that novel you started years ago.

You can put anything on your bucket list and work to make those dreams a reality when you’re able to do so.

Develop Your Own Self-Care Plan

When creating your self-care plan, be sure to start with the basics and your foundational needs. You can do that by ensuring that in the next year you get enough restorative sleep, you nourish yourself with nutritious and healthy meals, and by making sure you move and get plenty of exercise to boost your endorphins.

For example, you can make plans to go outside into green spaces and explore nature. In a 2019 International Journal of Environmental Health Research study of people who went to an urban park for a short visit, participants reported significantly higher levels of well-being and life satisfaction after the visit.

By creating your own plan to address your social, mental, emotional, and spiritual needs, you give value to your own self-care, demonstrating self-love, self-respect, and your understanding of the importance of setting boundaries.

Pop the champagne, toast to the new you, and watch the ball drop from the flagpole atop One Times Square on television. You are on your way to reaping the benefits of continued health and well-being in the new year.

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.

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Develop Your Mental Strength With These Tips

The loss of a leg or arm can impact a person’s ability to walk or balance correctly. Daily life will be forever changed. It’s totally normal to feel a bit lost or insecure about the next steps. Developing your mental strength is key to the situation. It’s a constant practice, and you can start with some of our tips below.

Life is filled with moments when you are called to make tough decisions. In these times, you need to be mentally strong, which means navigating through complex information, managing your emotions, and adjusting your thinking. However, mental strength doesn’t simply happen. Just like physical strength, mental strength needs to be trained and developed.

Be aware of your self-talk  

First, you need to be aware of how you talk to yourself. Do you tend to be harsh? Are you constantly putting yourself down? This needs to change.

The way we talk to ourselves affects how we interact with the world. Be kind and supportive to yourself as you are to others. This step is crucial because self-doubt leads to many downfalls. Replace self-doubt with kindness, self-compassion, and optimism.

Focus on the moment  

Our brains are often thinking about a thousand thoughts, but it rarely focuses on the present. You may catch yourself thinking about the past or the future a lot, but not so much about the present moment.

The challenge you’re trying to overcome is right in front of you now. Train your mental strength by focusing your energy on the present. When you focus on the present, you will realize that this is the moment where you have the most power to make things right.

Be grateful  

Gratitude has long been recognized as a tool to develop mental strength. This is because gratitude can transform any ordinary day or circumstance into something we are thankful for.

Daily gratitude journaling helps get you into this mindset. Write three things you’re grateful for at the start of your day, and pay attention as this practice turns your mood around.

Challenge your mind  

Mental strength is built through numerous small wins, which are maintained through our choices every day. You can gain mental stamina by taking on a daily task that stretches your mental endurance. So, don’t underestimate yourself, and don’t be afraid to push yourself. Playing it safe won’t help you grow.

Respond positively  

You can’t control everything that comes your way, so do as the Stoics do—take control of your reactions and watch your progress soar.

Find solutions  

Find solutions  

Instead of spending so much time spinning your wheels and thinking about your problems, why not focus on finding solutions? This way, you’ll be able to respond effectively.

Remember your milestones  

Most important, don’t underestimate the power of milestones. If you find yourself questioning how far you can go, remember how far you have come. Give yourself credit for the fears you’ve overcome and everything you have faced in life so far. Then you’ll realize that you can get through your present problems, too.

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.

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5 Ways to Control Sweating

Have you noticed that you sweat more since amputation? Sweating is part of everyone’s cooling process, but amputees are particularly likely to sweat profusely. Sweating is the body’s way of regulating its temperature. When we’re hot, we sweat. That moisture then evaporates and cools us down. Sweating is a completely natural part of everyday life – but it can be an inconvenience for sure! If this is a real thing for you, in this article there are some decent ideas that can help you control excess sweating. Be sure to consult your prosthetics for recommendations specific to you and your needs if you feel your situation warrants it!

However, how do you stay cool when you’re wearing a prosthesis?  In most situations, sweat is unable to evaporate from the skin and instead begins to pool inside your prosthetic socket. The good news is that there are strategies that you can do to reduce the amount of sweat.

Keep Cool  

If you stay cool, you reduce your body’s need to sweat. On a sweltering day, keep your blinds or curtains drawn. This prevents heat from the sun from overheating the room.

You can also eat smaller meals more regularly. Eating larger portions increases metabolic heat to break down food. And make sure to stay well-hydrated.

Wear Breathable Fabrics  

Control Sweating

One of the best ways to reduce sweating is by wearing light, breathable clothing. It allows more air to pass through the fabric, so you feel cooler and drier.

This tip is excellent for prosthesis users who require more energy to walk or move with a prosthetic limb—expending more energy results in more body heat, thus more sweat.

You can keep sweat under control inside your prosthesis with a breathable prosthetic sock, like the Knit-Rite Liner-Liner Prosthetic Sock. This prosthetic sock is designed to wick sweat and fight odor-causing bacteria.

Wash With a Benzoyl Peroxide Cleanser  

Although benzoyl peroxide won’t prevent sweat, it can reduce the embarrassing odor that comes with it. Body odor happens when sweat interacts with bacteria on the skin. You can kill odor-causing bacteria by washing the problematic area with a benzoyl peroxide cleanser. You can also target sweaty areas using skincare products with alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA).

Apply Antiperspirant  

Prosthetic antiperspirants work by blocking the sweat ducts so sweat can’t reach the skin’s surface. The gland is still producing sweat; it won’t get to the skin’s surface with the antiperspirant.

You can apply prosthetic antiperspirant at night before bedtime. And again in the morning underneath your socks and/or liner. Using a prosthetic antiperspirant also ensures that the area is protected from too much friction leading to chafing.

You can try the Alps Prosthetic Antiperspirant Spray. It has twice the aluminum chlorohydrate found in other brands, preventing body odor, sweat rashes, prosthetic blistering, and chafing effectively.

Medical Treatments  

If you feel that you are sweating excessively despite doing the tips above, you might want to consult with your physician to check if you have a condition called hyperhidrosis. There are several treatment options for this condition.

The first line of defense for hyperhidrosis is a prescription antiperspirant. If this doesn’t work, your doctor might prescribe oral medication to block chemicals that enable specific nerves to communicate the need for sweat.

Anxiety also contributes to excessive sweating. If your doctor feels that anxiety is a huge factor in your issue, they may prescribe antidepressants.

Another option is Botox, which temporarily blocks the nerves that cause sweating. The injections typically last for six to 12 months.

In extreme cases, surgery might be on the table. Options include sweat gland removal and nerve surgery.

At South Beach Prosthetics, our team supports your journey from A to Z. Discover our high-quality care and custom-made solutions, with free transportation services available! Get in touch today at (877) 211-5599 or on our Facebook page.

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Phantom Limb Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Phantom limb pain was for a long time poorly understood. In recent years, advances in medicine are changing that. The first step in treating phantom pain is to acknowledge that phantom pain is both very common and very real. Here you can go through the symptoms, treatment options, and how to cope with pain. At South Beach Prosthetics, we understand the journey you are undertaking. We stand with you – not just at this moment, but in your continued journey as you navigate these challenges.

As many as 80% of people who have an amputation experience some kind of “phantom” sensation in their amputated limbs. However, up to half of those who experience these disturbing feelings do not receive any treatment for—or relief from—their pain. This makes phantom pain a chronic pain condition that needs to be addressed in order to improve the quality of life for those who have had an amputation.

What Is Phantom Limb Pain?

Phantom Limb Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

After a limb is removed, you may continue to feel it, as though it were still there. Phantom limb pain is not the same thing as stump pain, which is felt in and around the incision following surgery. Stump pain is localized to the amputation site, while phantom pain is felt in some part of the leg that is no longer attached.

Many people describe burning sensations in their toes though they may be missing their entire leg below the knee. This can be a confusing and even scary sensation, leading some people to believe that they are losing their minds.

The first step in treating phantom pain is to acknowledge that phantom pain is very common and very real.

Theories About Causes

No one knows for sure why amputees have phantom pain, but a few possible explanations are widely believed to be true.

  • Memory of Limb Pain: Some researchers theorize that after a limb is damaged beyond repair, the brain is “used to” feeling the pain. Even after the limb has been removed, the brain continues to sense the same kind of pain. It is like having a memory of the pain because the pain is wired into the brain.
  • Nerve Bundle Stimulation: The severed nerves around the amputation site either misfire or are stimulated in some way, sending a pain message to the brain. These are the same nerves that used to reach all the way into the limb. Sometimes following surgery, these nerves form bundles called neuromas. When they fire, the brain interprets these signals as if the nerve were still intact, and “feels” pain in the toes.
  • Rewiring of the Nervous System: There has been evidence that when a limb is amputated, changes take place in the brain and spinal cord that cause pain to be interpreted differently than before. It is not yet clear, however, if this is a cause of phantom pain or if this happens as a result of it.


Regardless of its cause, phantom pain can be a debilitating condition. Pain is often described as burning, stabbing and throbbing—typical descriptor words for neuropathic pain. Phantom pain may happen in a continuous cycle, or it may be brought on by outside factors, such as temperature change, stress or stump irritation.

Most people describe their phantom pain as if it were coming from the distal parts (parts furthest from the core of the body) of the amputated limb. In other words, feet, toes or hands. Phantom sensations are more common in the first few months after surgery than they are several months down the road, but they can happen at any time after an amputation.

Treatment Options

Like most chronic pain conditions, no single treatment approach works for everybody. Here are some of the most common approaches.

  • Medication: Because it is considered a neuropathic disorder, antidepressants and anticonvulsants are often prescribed for phantom pain. NSAIDs, opioids, and muscle relaxants are also on the list of medications. As with other chronic pain conditions, finding the right medication can take time and patience. Sometimes successful phantom pain relief takes a combination of these medications.
  • Mirror therapy: Many therapists use mirror therapy in their treatments both for those with phantom limb pain and for those who have had a stroke. This usually involves placing both limbs in a mirror box, which makes the amputated limb appear intact. The individual is then asked to perform exercises with “both” limbs. This tricks the brain and effectively reduces phantom pain for some people. Further studies are needed to see if mirror therapy offers relief, though unlike many treatments, there is little potential for side effects with this treatment.
  • Stump stimulation: Using TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation), applying pain-relief patches (such as the lidocaine patches available by prescription or over the counter) or rubbing the stump can relieve phantom pain in some people. Using hot packs and cold packs can work for some people. Providing an alternate sensation from the stump can interrupt pain signals.
  • Cognitive therapies: Some people find relief from their phantom pain through hypnosis, relaxation or guided imagery. These approaches can change the way the brain interprets phantom sensations, including phantom pain.

Additional Treatment Options for Phantom Limb Pain

Usually, more than one treatment approach is used to get phantom pain under control. Some people, however, may require more invasive forms of treatment.

These include additional surgery to untangle nerve bundles at the amputation site, nerve blocks, stimulation of the spinal cord or the brain to change the way pain is interpreted and implantation of pain pumps that deliver medications directly to the spinal cord.

Support and Coping

As with other medical conditions, chronic pain affects our emotional lives as well as our physical being. Many people with phantom limb pain have found psychotherapy helpful in adjusting to their amputation and in learning many of the relaxation and coping skills which can reduce pain.

In addition, talking to others who have faced similar challenges can be priceless, and there are several online support groups, support organizations, and Facebook communities dedicated to those who are coping with an amputation as well as phantom limb pain.

Bottom Line on Phantom Limb Pain

We’ve learned that a significant number of people who undergo an amputation live with phantom limb pain, and for those who do, there are many people who are not adequately treated for this pain. Chronic pain can affect every aspect of your life, impacting your job, your relationships, and your ability to enjoy your passions.

There are now pain specialists who specialize in treatment difficult-to-manage pain such as phantom limb pain. As noted above, it can be a laborious process finding the right combination of treatments to get this pain under control, but with persistence, many people can live a much more enjoyable life after amputation.

Some people have found that keeping a pain journal is helpful in learning what helps, and what does not, as various modalities are tried, as many of the methods may blend together as you look back. In addition to finding a physician, you can work with to manage your pain, check out these ideas on what you can do yourself to best cope with chronic pain.

As a final note, there are many lifestyle habits which can make chronic pain worse, for example, both eating junk food and smoking can increase chronic pain. Taking the time to live healthy may not only lessen your pain but improve your general health as well.

From highly personalized attention to customized in-home solutions, our mission is to empower you to lead the lifestyle you want to live. Give us a call today at (888) 819-4721 to learn more about how we can help or find us on Facebook. Don’t forget – we also offer FREE transportation to your prosthetics appointments. Just give us a call!

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Boost Your Flexibility With These Tips

Rehabilitation is a process full of milestones. Keeping moving and working to enhance your flexibility is something that can help you in the process. Here are some tips to help you boost your flexibility.

Flexibility is more than just the ability to bend over to touch your toes. If you use a prosthetic limb, improving your flexibility is even more critical as it helps you prevent injuries and improve your overall prosthetic balance. And if your muscles are well-stretched, you can be sure that you can achieve full range of motion, making movement easier.

Flexibility is also essential to relieving soreness and muscle tension, helping promote relaxation. And since flexibility allows your muscles to achieve a full range of motion, it also improves your endurance, aerobic fitness, and muscular strength.

However, flexibility is different from mobility. The former refers to your muscles and connective tissues’ ability to stretch temporarily, while the latter refers to your joints’ ability to move pain-free. Flexibility is a crucial factor in achieving mobility.

A game plan to improve your flexibility  

When it comes to boosting your flexibility, merely adding a few stretches to your routine isn’t enough. It requires a more holistic approach that includes static and dynamic stretches as well as breathwork. Adding strength training to your exercise routine will also further improve your overall mobility and flexibility.

We outlined below a few moves that you can add to your existing exercise plan. You can also do these in your morning and evening routines. Being consistent with your stretches and breathwork will significantly impact your flexibility and mobility over time.


Proper breathing is not as simple as it seems. Many of us tend to hold our breath when we’re stressed and when exerting physical effort, such as during exercise.

Learning proper breathing techniques is essential to helping you breathe more effectively and with less energy, perfect for when you’re executing a challenging exercise move. It also engages your core muscles and diaphragm, which are essential when stretching and strength training.


This popular yoga move opens your chest and stretches your spine, perfect after sitting on a desk the whole day.

  • On all fours, make sure your wrists are under your shoulders, and your knees are directly under your hips.

  • Arch your back when you inhale. Look towards the ceiling and allow your stomach to drop toward the ground.

  • Round out your back when you exhale. Allow your head to drop or hang and feel the stretch on the length of your back.

  • Repeat for five breath cycles.

Boost Your Flexibility With These Tips south beach prosthetics

Belly Breathing  

Belly breathing, also known as diaphragmatic breathing, is the first step to being in tune with your body.

  • Stand or sit on a chair with your back straight. Place your hands on either side of your rib cage so you can feel it expand and deflate.

  • Inhale through your nose and fill your lungs with air.

  • Exhale through your mouth. Engage your core and pelvic floor muscles as you push the air out.

  • Repeat for 10 breath cycles.

Static stretches  

Static stretching refers to stretching and holding a position for a few seconds or minutes. But before attempting any stretching, be sure to warm up. Walking or marching in place is an excellent warm-up move, decreasing your chances of getting injured while stretching.

Neck Stretch 

It’s easy to neglect the neck area when exercising. But sitting hunched at a desk all day or sleeping in the wrong position makes you prone to a stiff neck or “text neck,” which affects your alignment and overall comfort.

  • Place your right hand on the top left side of your head.

  • Gently tilt your head to the right. Hold this position for three to five breaths.

  • Repeat on the other side.

Boost Your Flexibility Tips south beach prosthetics

Forward Fold  

We see the forward fold in every yoga class for a reason. It stretches the entire backside of your body, including your spine, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. It also helps release stress, improve digestion, and minimize headaches.

  • Stand with your feet close together. Slowly bend forward at your hips, bringing your head to your knees. You can release your hands to the ground, or you can hold your opposite elbows.

  • Allow your head to hang, and keep a small bend in your knees to protect your joints.

  • Hold this pose for five breath cycles.

Dynamic stretches  

Dynamic stretches are movement-based. It puts your muscles and joints through a full range of motion.

Arm Circles  

We commonly hold muscle tension in the upper back and shoulders. Arm circles can help loosen up these areas.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms down at your sides.

  • Keep your arms straight. Aim to draw circles with your fingertips.

  • You don’t have to do huge arm circles, especially when your shoulders feel tight. You can gradually work towards creating huge arm circles.

  • Repeat going the opposite way with your arms.

Low-Impact High Knees  

Think HIIT high knees without needing to jump. This move will still get the blood pumping to your lower limbs while stretching your knee joints, glutes, and hips.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.

  • Lift one knee, then bring your foot back down to the ground.

  • Immediately lift the other knee.

  • Repeat this move 10 times on both legs.

Boost Your Flexibility With These Tips southbeach prosthetics

These moves are safe to do every day. However, it’s important to listen to your body. If you feel significant discomfort or pain, stop immediately to avoid muscle strain.

And lastly, aim for consistency over perfection. If you do these exercises regularly, you’ll eventually get to where you want to be and achieve flexibility.

We will help you at every stage! We even offer free transportation to our appointments. Our cutting-edge technology and supportive teams make it possible for you to live your best life. Schedule an appointment at (877) 211-5599 or find us on Facebook

8 Ways to Feel More Empowered in Your Life

We know that if you’re visiting us, you’ve had something major happen in your life. And that comes with a whole bucket — or swimming pool! — of challenges. 

Depression and fear and worry can abound. We have a peer support group that you might find very helpful (people who have been where you are), and therapy to move through the roughest parts of processing can be everything – but if it’s just a boost and some ways to feel more empowered, this simple list might offer you some simple inspiration that can make a difference in your day. Call us if we can connect you with our peer support group at 855.958.1777.

We’ve all been there. We feel stuck by feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. These feelings overwhelm us, leaving us feeling unempowered, out of control, and even hopeless. Although these feelings are just a part of the human condition, there are many things that you can do to get out of that slump and feel more empowered in your life.

Most of the tips below can be done immediately. There’s no need to wait to get out of the negativity and into a more positive and powerful mindset. Next time you are feeling less-than, practice a few of these techniques for increasing your positive energy and creating a sense of self-assurance and confidence.

Positive Affirmations

When you are struggling with negative self-talk, you can immediately flip the script by changing your thoughts and words. By choosing words that are positive and encouraging, you will bring more of that to your life. Words are powerful and can change your mindset in an instant.

Empowered in Your life care

Take Action and Finish Something

Do something- anything! Even if it’s a small action, the impact will be the same. Accomplish something today that makes you feel like you’ve made progress in the right direction. It can be as simple as sending an email, finishing a book, or doing your laundry.

Challenge the Negative Thoughts

If you find yourself in comparison mode, decide to challenge the negative thoughts that are arising. Ask yourself if what you’re thinking is really true. Search for actual evidence that your thoughts are legitimate. Most likely you will find that they are not.

Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself almost guarantees that you can show up more fully in your life and for other people. Self-care can take on many different forms, so choose something that resonates with you. Try meditation, reading, or yoga. Or spoil yourself with a massage or other body treatment.

Connect with Others

If you are feeling isolated in your negativity, make a point to connect with others. Connection naturally increases feelings of belonging. Call a friend, go to a workout class, or set up a dinner with people who are positive and uplifting.

Get Clear on What You Want

Sometimes self-doubt can creep in because we don’t know exactly what we want for ourselves. Take time to think about where you want to be and what you want to accomplish. Journaling and vision boards are two popular techniques for gaining clarity on our goals.

Practice Gratitude

Being thankful for what we have and the innate gifts that we have been given is a surefire way to increase feelings of empowerment. Establish a daily gratitude practice by choosing three things you are thankful for each day.

Empowered in Your Life

Do Something You Love

When you are in your element, your positive energy rises. Do something you love to do, no matter if you’re good at it or not. Exercise, art, reading, or cooking – the options are endless.

We all have the ability to increase our feelings of happiness and empowerment even when we are feeling less than. Using the tips above can help you bust out of a slump and get back to a positive state of mind.

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We are here for you every step of the way. Call us at 855.958.1777. or find us on Facebook

Virtual reality is being harnessed by medicine to treat everything from pain to phobias

Virtual reality isn’t just about fun and games. Here is how experts are leveraging the concept to treat everything from phobias to pain — and that includes the phantom pain many amputees feel where they’ve lost a limb.

Virtual reality is being harnessed by medicine to treat everything from pain to phobias

Imagine feeling pain in a non-existent limb or an itch that cannot be scratched. It is a maddening sensation, always nagging and niggling away, and for some amputees it is very real.

Called Phantom limb pain, the sensation has been described in medical literature as far back as in the 16th century, and even has echoes in fiction. Captain Ahab, the protagonist of the classic Moby Dick, was haunted by the ghost of a lost leg. Closer home, in Vikram Chandra’s Love and Longing in Bombay, Major General Antia’s missing leg ached intolerably, years after the amputation.

So how does a physician treat this ailment?

In the mid-1990s, VS Ramachandran, a clinical neurologist and researcher at the University of California, San Diego, saw a patient who complained that his missing arm had clenched into a fist. The man was in agony as (phantom) fingernails dug into his (phantom) palm.

Ramachandran came up with a novel solution: mirror therapy. When the patient placed his hand inside a mirror-lined box, the reflection of his good hand took the place of his missing hand. Accepting this illusion as truth, the man clenched and unclenched his good fist. The phantom pain subsided and was gone for good after two weeks of treatment – cured by a well-designed optical illusion.

“Ramachandran had discovered a rudimentary yet revolutionary technique for altering consciousness,” writes Dr Brennan Spiegel in his book VRx: How Virtual Therapeutics Will Revolutionize Medicine, which came out in October this year. Ramachandran’s treatment of phantom limb pain with a $2 mirror box demonstrated that a patient’s perception could be altered briefly – and that altered consciousness could be leveraged for therapy.

Virtual reality is being harnessed

That epiphany is a cornerstone of an emerging field of medicine that has the potential to help treat a range of medical conditions – from acute pain to arachnophobia – without the use of invasive surgery or addictive opioids. It is called virtual therapeutics or virtual reality therapy.

There is a breathtaking overview of the field in Spiegel’s book. In it, Spiegel, a physician at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, makes an argument for virtual therapeutics and recounts its somewhat unusual beginnings. Videogames, for instance, inspired some of the early work in virtual therapeutics. Psychologist Albert “Skip” Rizzo of the University of Southern California, a pioneer in virtual therapeutics, recalls his “aha!” moment in 1991 when he watched one of his clients playing a Nintendo Game Boy. He wanted to use the lure of games, combine it with evidence-based principles of talk therapy, and embed the result in a virtual reality headset to use in therapy sessions with patients.

“Nearly thirty years later, Rizzo has built and tested a range of virtual environments designed to manage anxiety. His most famous program called BraveHeart treats soldiers who are mentally scarred by the calamity of war. By plunging veterans into the thick of battle in a highly realistic virtual environment, Rizzo recreates the visceral full body experience of war, complete with the bone-rattling vibration of rolling Humvees, with the thick sent of burning oil, and the sound of concussive blasts. Through Bravemind, Rizzo exposes soldiers to their worst nightmares, but he does it within the controlled safety of VR. His procedure called VR exposure therapy, gradually inoculates the brain against the triggers of post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

It is the immersiveness of virtual reality – that embodied feeling of “being there” and interacting with a new world – that focuses our attention like no visual medium, writes Spiegel. When you strap on a headset and obscure every physical distraction, you are lost to the real world just like a person deep in meditation or someone tripping on psychedelics, or, why, a teenage gamer. Our brains have no bandwidth left to consider anything beyond the immediate digital experience.

Virtual reality analgesics can alleviate physical pain, reducing the need for addictive pain killers. For instance, in the book, we learn of Snow World, a VR treatment which ushers burn patients into a soothing winter landscape, while bandages come off their seared skin in the real world. Patients reported that wound care felt a lot less agonising, as they threw snowballs at penguins and snowmen in an engaging game.

We are also introduced to the first case of VR therapy for schizophrenia, which is a condition in which the patient may hear, see or smell things that don’t exist. When we meet the patient, Richard Breton, the 54-year-old is wearing a VR headset and staring at a satanic figure, complete with blazing eyes, horns, and tail – a representation of the demon which keeps berating him.

Virtual reality medicine to treatment

“The patient is seeing a concrete representation of his hallucination,” explains Alexandre Dumais, who has pioneered this new form of VR-assisted talk therapy at the University of Montreal. “He has a direct dialogue with the hallucination.” The voice talking back comes from Dumais, who is sitting in a room wearing a headset. As he speaks, Dumais’ voice is permuted by a computer into devilish tones, piped through the software, and then emerges through the mouth of the virtual avatar… But every so often, Dumais breaks character and offers some coaching. He instructs Breton to stand up to the voice, to talk to it and reason with it… Since the therapy, Breton’s intruding voice has dropped from fifteen times per day to far fewer.

There are other powerful examples of transformative therapy in Spiegel’s VRx. Through interviews with physicians and patients, he makes a compelling case for virtual reality as a medical treatment, although there are a few caveats.

Spiegel emphasises that virtual reality is not a digital panacea. Even for conditions where VR has proven to be effective, it may not work for every patient. Some people may experience cybersickness, a new term for the sensation of motion sickness triggered by feeling out of sync with the virtual world. For others, the barrier to VR could be mental. “What may seem like a fantastical voyage to the well may seem like an unwelcome intrusion to someone who is unwell with an advanced illness,” Spiegel writes.

Besides, a patient’s psychology needs to be considered before sending them into an immersive experience, which is unlike reading a book or watching a movie. Could VR be addictive? Could a VR experience implant fake memories? The ethics of the therapy have to debated.

Rheumatologist Swamy Venuturupalli, a colleague of Spiegel’s, first used the technology on a patient with multiple sclerosis to alleviate her arthritic pain. He noticed that the intensity of the patient’s pain reduced when she was in VR. Her MS-related tremors also vanished briefly. VR was, by no means, a cure for the MS. Regardless, the physician, who was happy to see the mind gain control momentarily over the body, began offering the technology to other patients as well. “For many, they just don’t even know VR even exists. It’s not that the doctors are afraid; it’s just that they haven’t heard of it…,” says Venuturupalli.

Physicians, virtual reality developers and technophiles may seem to be the obvious audience for a book on virtual therapeutics. But anyone who has to visit a clinic for anything ranging from a dental procedure to treatment for depression could find Spiegel’s book an engaging read.

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