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grace norman
Grace Norman:
Moving Forward in Every Way Possible

Grace Norman was born to be an athlete. Her mom was a college long distance runner and coaches track. Her dad is an avid swimmer and triathlon competitor. It's no surprise to anyone that Grace, a sophomore at Xenia Christian High School, is a 3 season high school athlete participating in Cross Country, Swimming, and Track & Field. It's also no surprise that this all-around high school athlete would take her love of competition to competing in triathlons involving swimming, biking and running. What may be a surprise is that Grace is a below knee amputee and competes in all of these events with a prosthetic limb.


Grace was born as a below-knee amputee, but that has never stopped her from moving forward in athletics or life.  Participating in triathlons in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan, sometimes in the Para-triathlons, but mainly as a non-disabled athlete, Graces' times are comparable to the non-disabled athletes, and in her class she is now ranked second for the Sprint Distance Para-triathlon.


Most recently, Grace competed with 8000 other athletes with Dare2tri, in the Chicago LifeTime Triathlon. This tenacious teenager swam, biked and ran her way to becoming the Midwest Para-triathlon Regional Champion, and is now qualified to compete in the National Para-triathlon Championships in May of 2014. Her placing in each of the areas of the triathlon ranked her in the top 5 percent off all competitors. Grace even has her eye on the Rio Paralympics in 2016!  We will continue to update readers as to her progress as she works to achieve this goal.


Optimus Prosthetics is proud to be part of Grace's life and sees her as an inspiration to people of all ages and abilities. Grace is always moving forward with her life; the rest of us can only hope to catch up with her someday!


See the Norman family here.


See Grace with Melissa Stockwell - Iraq War Veteran, 2008 Paralympian and 3x Paratriathlon World Champion.

Back to School for Parents of Children with Limb Difference
back to school prosthetics


Schools across America are probably either ready to start or have recently started. Along with back-to-school shopping and enrolling in classes, parents of children with prosthetics may be concerned about sending them to school, away from the parent's watchful eyes.  These fears may be especially strong if the child's limb difference is new, the prosthetic is new or if the child is going into a new school or group of kids. These fears are very real and very common.


A child's prosthetic may be so common in their home and familiar settings that it's almost a non-issue and something that is just part of day-to-day life. But in a new setting or with a new device of any kind, the big world, and especially a world with children, can be difficult. Nobody wants to be different, especially as a young person. It's up to you as parents to help make this new stage of life go smoothly. Here are some tips to help with that:


  • If your child is going to a new school, call the school and find a time to meet with the teachers, principal or school nurse before school starts.  These people will be the first lines of defense in helping the child adjust. Remember that most people are unfamiliar with this crazy world of prosthetics, just like you probably were at first. These educators may have just as many questions as anybody else and worry about liability and how to help the child if needed. Be prepared for questions. Bring the child along and let them see what the child can do, that will help to dispel many fears. Let the child tell the school personnel as much as they can about their own story.
  • Encourage your child and the school personnel to be open about the child's devices and why they require the devices, with HIPPA and common sense boundaries. Not knowing leads to fear, fear too often leads to teasing, so fight the fear with information. The more comfortable the child is with their devices or limbs, the more comfortable the people around them (young and old) will be. When a child can show a classmate an artificial leg with the same ease they can talk about popular singers and the latest electronic gadgets, the fear will go away and the real friendship can begin.

Parents need to trust that any child who has overcome these physical issues can overcome a few awkward stares; but still talk to their child about the transition and stay in contact with the school as well.


For resources to assist with helping a child cope with limb-difference, see the Amputee Coalition here: http://www.amputee-coalition.org/fact_sheets/help_child_understand.html.  

Jim's Corner

Fall Simulation With Patients: We get knocked down, but we get up again!


Optimus Prosthetics Jim Scharf
Jim Scharf, PTA

The goal of "Jim's Corner" is to provide helpful information and be a resource for those helping patients fitted with prosthetics learn to use them correctly in order to enjoy a better quality of life as an amputee.


Statistics show that 4% of the general population will experience a fall within a year while a whopping 66% of the transfemoral/above knee amputee population will fall in that same time frame. Obviously, falls are a big problem in our world. I thought for this month's column I would stay with our little detour from the usual themes for one more month and address an item that is a big concern for clinicians and for our patients: falls.


Nobody wants to fall, but the reality is that it might happen, so patients need to know how to fall and we need to teach them. Unfortunately, there is no one way to train a patient in regards to falls and it is generally not easy for the patient or the clinician to work on. That's why I feel it is so important to spend the time and to work with patients on: 1) their residual limb extensors, 2) proper prosthetic weight shifting, 3) proper prosthetic weight bearing, 4) proper prosthetic balance, in addition to just gait, to try to decrease the risk of falling for the patients. 


Throughout the years, I have found very little information on how to fall and how to get back up from the floor after a fall. What I have learned is that it does appear to require good sound limb strength, good upper and lower extremity ROM and good upper extremity strength.


When working on floor transfers, there is no one way or an easy way to do it. I have found that it usually depends on the particular situation the patient thinks they would be most likely in, and each individual patient's ability. Where do you start? I like to find out what the patient thinks the situation would be or what they want to learn, then problem solve from there.


To train a patient on falls, floor transfers and/or floor recovery in a PT department, a large sturdy mat table is desirable because the patient will not have to get up from the floor and we can simulate different scenarios safely. And if the patient gets into trouble during the training session, they can always lie back down comfortably and then do a supine to sit transfer to the edge of the mat table, and be sitting on the side of the table if needed.


I generally instruct patients that if they were to fall, the first step would be to assess themselves and find out if they hurt themselves and take an inventory or a "self-check" for a possible injury. Then, if people are around, ask for help. If they are outside the home in a public place there will usually be somebody around. What about cases where they are alone? If they are in an isolated place or home alone when they fall, try banging on the wall or floor or shouting to attract attention. I encourage the patients to carry a cell phone, which most already do, especially younger patients.  If they find themselves injured or in trouble they can and should call 911.


What are two of the most common ways to teach your patients to recover from a fall?  The most basic floor transfers are the "crawl to the chair" method or the "scooting" method. The crawl to chair method is simply crawling over to a sturdy, non-moving object like a chair or sofa. If the patient is able to get onto all fours, they can crawl over to the sturdy object, grab or hold onto it and attempt to get into the kneeling position. Then if they are able to get into a kneeling position, place the sound limb out front. Be careful about kneeling on a prosthetic knee, it may damage a part in the prosthetic knee. Using the sound limb, the person can push or pull up into a chair/surface or stand if able.


For the scooting method, the patient is to stay on the ground and "scoot" over to a sturdy object like a non-rolling chair or sofa. The patient would benefit from having a stool around to make the transition into the chair or sofa easier for them. Patients need to beware of pulling themselves up on shelves or other objects that may collapse and cause further injury. If no stool is around, the patient could try to place cushions from the sofa, pillows or other objects onto the floor and then attempt to rise off the buttocks onto the stool or cushions and then into the sofa or chair.


If the patient does have difficulty or is unable to do it with the prosthesis on, sometimes it is easier for the patient to take the prosthesis off to perform. I really wish that there was easier ways to get up off the floor. I know this can be frightening and frustrating, but at this point gravity is our enemy. 

fall simulation

An ironic story to illustrate the subject of falling is, in one week, I had two transfemoral/above the knee amputee patients ask me how to fall. I said the text books might instruct them on how to fall, but the reality is different. In my opinion, falls happen too fast to think about. I think in most cases we hit the ground before we have time to think and react. The following weekend I was attending a sports medicine course and I noticed a person walking into the course from across the parking lot. I noticed his gait was different (no active plantar flexion or active dorsiflexion) and immediately realized he was a transtibial/below the knee amputee walking with a prosthesis. As I was analyzing his gait (I analyze gait all the time, it's an occupational hazard) I stepped on a hidden pavement discrepancy (pictured above) and fell immediately. I experienced firsthand what I had told my patients earlier that week! I did not have time to think about how I was falling, how to position my body so I wouldn't hurt myself, or how to react; I just fell. It just happened so fast that I was on the ground before I knew what happened. As I was lying on the ground, the amputee gentleman came running over to me and said "Sir, are you OK? Here let me help you get up."  When I told this story to one of the patients the next week he said, "Well, well Jim, the amputee helps up the non-amputee and that's irony, and I like irony."   


Jim Scharf, PTA, Prosthetic Assistant/Gait Specialist

Jim has been a Licensed Physical Therapist Assistant since 1988.  Jim has worked with lower extremity amputee patients throughout his career.  He serves as a Gait Specialist and Liaison when prosthetic patients are meeting with their therapists. Feel free to contact Jim if he can assist you in any way at: jscharf@optimusprosthetics.com.

In This Issue

D = Dayton Area

C = Columbus Area


Completing Course #1 - "Amputation & Prosthetic Overview"


D - Thursday, Sept. 9

Liberty of Englewood - 12:00


D - Tuesday, Sept. 17

Dayspring of Miami Valley - 12:00


C - Tuesday, Sept. 17

Regency Hospital - 12:00



Completing Course #2 - "Lower-Limb Prosthetics:  Transtibial"


D - Wednesday, Sept. 4

Heartland of Centerville - 12:00


C - Wednesday, Sept. 4

Wesley Glenn - 12:00


D - Wednesday, Sept. 11

Wright Nursing & Rehab - 12:00


D - Thursday, Sept. 12

Kettering Neuro Rehab - 12:00


C - Thursday, Sept. 12

Country View of Sunbury - 12:00


C - Monday, Sept. 16

Rehab & Health Center of Gahanna - 12:00


C - Wednesday, Sept. 18

Centerburg Pointe - 12:00


C - Thursday, Sept. 19

McNaughten Pointe - 12:00


D - Tuesday, Sept. 24

Heartland of Kettering - 12:00


C - Wednesday, Sept. 25

Darby Glenn Nursing & Rehab - 12:00


C - Friday, Sept. 27

Echo Manor - 12:00



Completing Course #3 - "Lower-Limb Prosthetics:  Transfemoral"


D - Wednesday, Sept. 4

Reid Hospital - 12:00


C - Wednesday, Sept. 4

Isabelle Ridgway Care Center - 12:00


D - Monday, Sept. 9

Cypress Pointe - 12:00


C - Tuesday, Sept. 10

New Albany Gardens & Care Center - 12:00


C - Tuesday, Sept. 10

Bryden Place - 12:00


C - Friday, Sept. 13

Villa Angela - 12:00


D - Monday, Sept. 16

Kettering Medical Center - 12:00


C - Tuesday, Sept. 24

Eastland Care Center - 12:00


D - Wednesday, Sept. 25

Wilmington Nursing & Rehab - 12:00


D - Thursday, Sept. 26

Kettering Neuro Rehab - 12:00



Course #4 - "Lower Extremity Amputee/Prosthetic Evaluation & Outcomes Measures"


D - Tuesday, Sept. 10

Laurels of Shane Hill - 12:00


D - Wednesday, Sept. 11

Forum at Knightsbridge - 12:00



Course #5 - "Lower-Limb Prosthetic Gait Training"


D - Friday, Sept. 6

Kindred of Lebanon - 12:00


D - Tuesday, Sept. 10

Residence at Kensington - 12:00


D - Wednesday, Sept. 18

Forestview - 12:00


D - Friday, Sept. 20

Springfield Masonic - 12:00


D - Tuesday, Sept. 24

Fidelity Home HealthCare - 12:00



Course #6 - "Lower-Limb Prosthetic Gait Deviations"


D - Thursday, Sept. 19

Otterbein by Atrium - 12:00



Course #7 - "Upper-Limb Prosthetics"


D - Monday, Sept. 16

Laurels of West Carrollton - 12:00



Course #8 - Prosthetic Advances


D - Friday, Sept. 13

Friendship Village - 12:00



Course #9 - "Partial Foot, Ankle/Knee/Hip Disarticulation, & Transpelvic Prosthetics"


None scheduled














Optimus Prosthetics, Dayton
8517 North Dixie Drive, Suite 100/300
Dayton, Ohio 45414
(937) 454-1900


Optimus Prosthetics, Columbus
3132 Olentangy River Road
Columbus, Ohio 43202 

(614) 263-LIMB (5462)

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