Limb Loss Awareness Month: Taking Out the Stigma

 According to the Amputee Coalition website, nearly 4 million people in the United States will be living with limb loss by the year 2050.  The website also highlights "that 36 percent of people living with limb loss or limb difference experience depression." The stigma that often comes with wearing prosthetics also plays a part in the challenges people with limb loss experience.

April is Limb Loss Awareness Month and one business in Rochester is helping to spread awareness in the hopes of taking the stigma out of losing limbs or wearing prosthetics.  

Limb Lab in Downtown Rochester will have mannequins on display. Those who have lost a limb are asked to proudly show off their prosthetics or wheelchairs in the business window. Limb Lab founder, Brandon Sampson, hopes this will reduce the stigma around what it means to be an amputee, "Since the beginning of Limb Lab, we're purposefully designed the space and the windows to take away the stigma of what it means to be an amputee. This year with April being Limb Loss Awareness Month, we decided on April Fool’s Day wouldn't it be kind of cool if we had actual live mannequins in our windows," he said.

Lewis Olson agreed to be a live mannequin. Monday, April 1st, will mark six years since he had his leg amputation. In 1979, he was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident. And seven years ago, he had to get his leg cut off after a score on his ankle became unsafe. Olson hopes Monday's event will help raise awareness about 2 million others just like him who are living with limb loss in the U.S.

And a young local boy using prosthetics will also be one Limb Lab's live mannequins. 11-year-old Landon Uthke has big dreams. 

“I want to be a hockey player,” he said. He’s working hard to make that come true, "Probably going to do some drills and get better," he said. Every Sunday night, Landon’s dad Kevin Uthke drives from Albert Lea to Rochester so Landon can play on the Rochester Mustangs sled hockey team. 

"10 -23-2011 we had a lawnmower accident. I accidentally back over him and the leg was beyond repair. It was amputated here at the Mayo Clinic," said Kevin Uthke.

Landon didn’t let that keep him from playing. "They didn't know how to make me a skating leg so my mom told me about sled hockey and here I am,” he said. Two years ago, Landon got a prosthetic leg from Limb Lab in Rochester that would allow him to play hockey standing up. 

"The skating leg is a fixed knee with a special heel joint in it so he can skate on it without worrying about it collapsing,” said Kevin.

Kevin said he never imagined his son would be this active. 

"It's totally awesome watching him skate and play and he's just like a little kid. He's always going to be a little kid to me playing hockey," he said.

Monday, Landon will show off his prosthetic leg in the display window of Limb Lab. 

Dr. Mark W. Christopherson with Mayo Clinic said most people can do their daily activities after an amputation, "We reassure them that we anticipate that they'll do well and be able to do those things. They're kind of shocked. Oh you mean people can work? Yes. People can drive? Yes. People can walk? Yes,” he said.

That’s the message Lewis wants to share with Landon, "Always say yes, never say no. You can do anything you want,” he said. 

Lewis, Landon, and others will model their prosthetic and orthotic devices Monday, April 1st at Limb Lab from 4 to 5:30 p.m. 

More Information On Limb Loss Awareness Month

Contact Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics for any prosthetic or orthotic care questions or needs. We’ve been providing expert prosthetic and orthotic services in Michigan since 1955 and have grown to  22 locations, including Traverse City, Alpena, Greenville, Mantisee and St. Joseph!

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