Bouldering in Joshua Tree

Bouldering in Joshua Tree
Ronnie 15 feet off deck on the classic White Rastafarian.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Future Practioner Profile - Becky Curls

Prosthetics is a very small field. Even if you do not know somebody personally somebody you know has a connection with that person.

The most asked question I have heard over the years is "how did you get into prosthetics?"

Some people have really simple answers like mine, "because I wear one", and others have different ties into the field.

I met Becky Curls at Camp No Limits Florida 2010. She was coming to volunteer and had shadowed a few different times and decided she liked the field. She came and spent a couple of days with us at prosthetic and orthotic associates and ended up doing a 10 week internship with us.

Here is a short video on her. She has been really impressive in these past 10 weeks and no doubt she will be an important addition to the field. She might even be one of our residents going into the future.

Check it out!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Amputee Profile - Justin Gaertner

A few weeks ago I participated in the first annual Winter's Beachfest 5k in Clearwater, Fl. I had a really good race and took second place in my age group! Aside from running myself I got to meet a guy by the name of Justin Gaertner. Justin was serving our country over in Iraq and was injured, causing him to lose both of his legs above the knee. His injury happened just before Thanksgiving, and after six months of rehab he got his prosthetic legs. He had only had his legs for a little over a month, and was just released to his home in New Port Ritchey, Fl but although having never walked anything close to the distance, he felt up to walking his first mile on his new prosthetic legs. It was one of the most inspiring things I have seen in a long time. I wish Justin the best and no doubt he will go on to accomplish anything he puts his mind to. Check out the video!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Breaking feet

So earlier I saying that I use a wood foot to wakeboard, but I broke it.  Well I just tried out a foot that had a plastic core tonight... and busted it.  I found that definitely shouldn't wakeboard with one of these plastic feet, and you're probably best off not walking on one either.  

Monday, June 6, 2011

Tips on pursuing rock climbing as an amputee

1. You can locate an indoor climbing wall near your home by visiting You will find that most staff at your local climbing wall is very friendly and can further assist helping you pursue the sport or just participate on a recreational basis.

2. Below the knee amputees can climb with their prosthesis. They can put a rock climbing shoe right over their prosthetic foot to help them climb recreationally.

3. I recommend that above the knee amputees climb without their prosthesis or set up in a "stubby" style with the foot right under the socket. Manuevering a full prosthetic leg can be cumbersome and take away from the effectiveness and enjoyability of climbing.

4. There are two companies that make special prosthetic climbing feet. The first is TRS Prosthetics, which creates the Eldo Axis Z prosthetic climbing foot. The second is Jeff Erenstone, who creates another similar prosthetic climbing foot. Both feet share the similar properties of being shorter and stiffer than your average prosthetic foot and are covered in climbing rubber. I highly recommend either of these feet if you plan on making climbing a routine activity or just something you do from time to time.

Jeff Erenstone -

Bob Radocy - TRS Prosthetics -

5. Climbing can be difficult, but as with anything it gets easier and more natural over time. If you think it might be something you would enjoy, don't give up on it right away. Tenacity is the key to doing anything well, especially as an amputee.

6. Climbing is about journey and adventure. It has a really neat community of people that will embrace you with open arms. It gives back what you put into it. It can be as simple as a recreational activity or it can become a lifestyle. It has given me so much that I have wanted nothing more than to be able to pass it onto others. If you ever have questions about climbing, other sports, or just being an amputee in general feel free to contact me any time. Thanks again!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Time to catch up

Hey how's it going??  So I've been doing a lot of catching up in my life and this is just another area I need to take care of.  I've been wakeboarding and fishing a lot lately, it's been an awesome summer so far.  I usually get asked a lot of questions about the prosthetic I use for wakeboarding, questions like is it waterproof, is your wakeboard all set up for your prosthetic, or how much does it hurt your stump.  Well the prosthetic I use for wakeboarding is actually my regular walking leg.  It takes a lot of abuse.  It is waterproof because it's an airtight vacuum socket but my screws rust out because I'm too lazy to grab some stainless steal screws... someday.  The pain isn't so bad.  Sometimes I will bruise the back of my leg on impact but it's relative to the beating the rest of my body takes.  I learned early on that I couldn't use my carbon fiber renegade walking foot because it can't take the high impact and torque I put into it while riding.  Also super expensive to replace!  So I switched to a wooden foot and I can't tell a difference.  I have managed to break one of these too... I fell hard and ripped straight out of my binding.  Check it out-  It's amazing how much force you can put into your ankle.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Traveling with a prosthesis

Airports have become an adventure in awkwardness ever since 9/11. Longer lines and requirements insisting removal of just about everything into a bin except your pants and shirt have been in place ever since. Things also got wilder traveling with a prosthetic leg as well. Last summer alone I traveled through Costa Rica, Spain, and over twenty of the states after graduating college with my degree in prosthetics. I got to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of airport security around the US.

Most airports have a special line for people with disabilities. This works out nicely because these lines are usually staffed appropriately and have male and female assists waiting to assist with the screening process. Sometimes this line can be a disaster when it is combined with the “family with kids” section and then you have all of the strollers and screaming toddlers to deal with as well.

After removing all of the contents of your pockets, belts, and jewelry you will be asked to go through the metal detector despite the fact that you will set it off every time! I think they just want to “make sure” that your leg is really fake and made of metal instead of possibly being real by some amazing congenital anomaly. You have the right to keep your shoes on for this process, because they are going to screen you heavily anyways and taking off shoes is cumbersome and could cause you to walk unevenly or different. I personally always wear shorts to the airport so that all staff knows I am an amputee and can act accordingly. I also always carry on my bags (I don’t trust checking my climbing or running legs) and by wearing shorts the person screening the bag can usually get the hint that there are prosthetic components in the bag, instead of glancing at the screen with a confused look and then asking me to open my bag.

The screening process can be simple at some airports and difficultly involved at others. In a best case scenario somebody is available right away to pat you down and swab your socket, leg, and shoe for traces of explosives. If you get lucky this is all the airport staff will do.

In a worst case scenario they will not have an assistant on hand, or that person will be on break, at which point you will stand around and be shifted from place to place aimlessly until somebody who is competent can assist you. They will proceed to do the above screening procedure along with asking to X-ray your leg. They will escort you to a private screening room to which they never have the key readily available, and after another twenty minutes your nightmare will be over.

You should not be required to take off your leg under any circumstances. The best thing to do while traveling is to just expect the worst and give yourself enough time to catch you plane so that during your 10-45 minute security process you can stay calm and relaxed to just go with the flow.

In Europe they are much less stringent, often times not even bothering to check out the leg (unless you are flying back to the US).

I do have a favorite airport story. I was helping campers get to their plane from ACA Youth Camp last summer and got paired up with a little boy who was about eight. He was really sassy that morning (and always) to say the least and while going through security said “What the hell do you think? That I have a bomb in there?” followed by “You are lucky that I am not carrying my pocket knife with me today” among other things. He then proceeded to take off his leg without prompting and throw it through the X-ray machine.

Anyways those are some of my experiences, what are some of your best stories? Any thoughts on traveling? Leave some comments!

I am at the ACA conference, check back for some updates soon!