Hi, my name is Ronnie Dickson. I have been an above the knee amputee for six years now. I have been using a second generation Otto Bock C-Leg for four and a half of those years. The C-leg was a big investment for both me and my family. We are an average, modest, middle class family that is by no means swimming in money. I was eighteen at the time of purchase, so my family played a big role in helping me purchase the knee. The C-leg bills out for a hefty $25,000. Insurance only covered 80% of the cost, so we paid the rest of the cost out of pocket ($5,000). Having made such a substantial investment into my healthcare we decided to take the option for the extended warranty that would change the coverage from two years to five years. This was an extra $5,000. We believed that this extra cost would help us protect our investment so that I could enjoy and use it for many years to come. We were wrong.
I will start out by saying that the C-leg has been a wonderful addition to my life. It has helped me go about life without even thinking about it and has kept up with me no matter what the activity. I have used it actively, and have been able to live the way I always imagined. I started having trouble with my usually reliable C-Leg about four years after purchase. My plug did not always charge, my battery was not holding the same life it used to, and knee did not feel as smooth as it previously did. I understand this is normal wear and tear, but I also knew that I had attempted to keep my investment running smoothly by purchasing the extended warranty. This wear and tear directly affects my quality of life. Walking around occasionally, because my battery did not hold charge, with a “locked knee” hurts my back. I also feel more fatigued on a daily basis because the hydraulics are not workings properly. I sent the knee back only to find out that they refuse to cover any of the repairs. They claim that the knee is “corroded” and to restore the knee back to its previous functionality according to manufacturer’s recommendations it was going to cost $2126.52. I would like to note here that there were many other things wrong with the knee aside from “corrosion”. Many of the main parts including the kneeball, kneeball axis, and lower cylinder axis all had scoring. They did not fix anything because of the “corrosion” which I expect was the minor issue in all of this.
Although Otto Bock refuses to acknowledge it, corrosion is part of the natural wear process. I have been a resident of Florida my whole life, and anybody who has ever been to the state knows it is a steaming sauna with humidity of 100% almost all of the time. Who is to say that over 1000 days of exposure to humidity did not cause the corrosion? Water is a daily factor in all of our lives. Last I checked it rains in all 50 states. It is highly unlikely that a C-leg user will never get a drop of water on the knee. Most of them are too busy living their lives to avoid it. Otto Bock’s slogan is “quality for life” but last I checked their policies completely contradict this. They want the amputees to sacrifice the quality of their lives to protect the product. Lame.
So my point here is completely irrelevant to whether or not my C-leg actually came in contact with water, for the purpose of this discussion I will exercise my privilege to withhold those details. We paid Otto Bock $5000 to keep my C-leg functioning for five years and they did not come through with their end of the bargain. I feel cheated in every sense of the word; they may as well have stolen the money straight out of my pocket.
I currently work as a prosthetist in Orlando, Fl at Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates. I am not the only one in the profession that thinks that there is a lot wrong with these tactics.
I did take economics in high school, and even if they did fix all the “DAMAGE” on my C-leg they would still come out on top of the whole deal by over $2,000. Instead they chose to take money from a population group that is going to be burdened with healthcare costs for the rest of their lives.
I would still purchase a C-Leg in the future, but I would not pay for the lie that they call the extended warranty. Instead I would just put the money in the bank, and fix the knee when needed. That way I could keep the promise that Otto Bock refused to honor.