On Friday, Joe, Lisa and I drove up to the Orthotic Prosthetic Center to see Joe's prosthetist, Elliott. First off, let me just tell you how much we LOVE Elliott. He's been amazing throughout this whole prosthetic process and as Joe likes to say, 'he get's what we are trying to do here.' Meaning...Joe tends to push the limits, especially on his prosthetic leg, and Elliott understands that and makes the leg so that Joe can continue to do that.
That all said, Elliott asked Joe to be a guinea pig in testing out a new water technology to make sockets for prosthetic legs called the Symphonie. It was brought to OPC from a company out of Germany and man, was it cool.
We weren't totally sure what to expect going into the appointment, other than it was a new technology. As soon as we walked in, Liz, one of the women who works in the office announced that the 'Human Sacrifice' was there (if that tells you anything about the great attitudes they have in the office). It definitely helped ease any nervousness we had going in.
Before the Symphonie, the process was done by hand. Since Elliott has been casting sockets for such a long time, he has an great eye and does an amazing job. Unfortunately, even that leaves room for human error and guessing. This new technology pretty much removes any possibility for human error during the beginning stages of the casting process.
Essentially, the stump is still casted in Plaster of Paris but instead of sitting down during the casting, the amputee stands up and puts the stump in a pressurized water tank with all their weight on it. This creates more accuracy for a lot of reasons (most of them I don't understand) but the main one being that since he's standing and putting weight on the stump in the water, it more accurately casts the stump the way that Joe would walk. When you're sitting down and no weight is on the leg, it casts in a resting position.
I'm bummed I didn't take a photo of the before and after sockets because they were VERY different. The new one, while a tiny bit big, fits SO MUCH BETTER. It's like night and day. Joe's been struggling with his latest socket and hadn't been able to leave the leg on for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time. It was pinching nerves and causing problems with stump circulation. Not to mention walking was incredibly painful.
This new socket has really opened up Joe's mobility and is finally allowing him to do the things he loves without being in as much pain. He's been in the socket all day every day since he got it without any major problems. He even went wake surfing over the weekend (check out the photo all the way at the bottom).
The technology they are creating for amputees every day is absolutely incredible. It holds such a bright future for prosthetics, and I know this machine is going to help so many people like it helped Joe.
A huge thank you to Elliott and the staff at OPC for continually working with Joe during this process, and for allowing him to be the 'human sacrifice.' And a big thank you to Andreas for bringing the Symphonie to America and changing the way Joe's leg fits. It was an incredibly cool process!