Limb amputation might sound daunting to many of us, but some amputees have done truly inspirational things. After Daniel Inouye lost an arm during World War II, he asked a nurse for a cigarette and a light. She tossed him both, and, angered, he asked her to light his cigarette for him. She replied that she would not always be there to light it for him, and taught him to light cigarettes one-handed. That was the least of his accomplishments. He became a senator from Hawaii and served to get the facts on the infamous Watergate case. Speaking of senators, Burt Shepard pitched for the Washington Senators after losing a leg in a bombing raid over Germany. It didn’t stop him from pitching against the Dodgers and the Red Sox, and he served as an inspiration to amputees at nearby Walter Reed Hospital. Some soldiers in a World War II amputee ward were feeling gloomy when an entertainer walked onto the ward. As he performed back flips and cartwheels, the young men became angry, wondering what insensitive officer would send an acrobat to entertain on an amputee ward. At that point the acrobat dropped his pants to exhibit two above the knee amputations.
People did amazing things with early prosthetics, but that’s nothing compared to what they can do now. Some prosthetic legs almost seem to have intelligence of their own, learning how their owners walk and using sensors to adjust movements to the type of surface where they are being used. Knees, for instance, are more complex joints than most people realize, and we unconsciously make many slight twisting motions of our knees to adjust to the terrain. Using the old prosthetics could be exhausting without the natural adjustments in our stride we make every day without thinking about it. New prosthetic hands and arms, too, are much more competent than ever before. Now upper limbs can be connected to patients’ own nerves. With the connection they are able to move their new arms and hands the same as they would their old ones. Soon prosthetic hands and arms will be equipped with sensors connected to patients’ own nerves to be able to sense heat, cold, and pressure. Inspirational amputees paired with new technology make an unbeatable combo.
If you would like to learn more about the cutting edge prosthetics available to amputees today stop in to one of our 20 Michigan locations including Traverse City, Grand Rapids, Cadillac and Petoskey.