Optimus Banner
Applications Now Available for 2014 Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp
This camp is an amazing experience for kids ages 10-17 living with an amputation or limb difference. The application deadline is March 14, so go here to fill out an application for your child today!

Tom Pooler: A Man Making a Difference

Tom "Holly Wood" Pooler's story begins in Germany in 1984. He was stationed there as a member of the military during the Cold War, and went for a ride on his motorcycle after an evening of drinking . Riding a motorcycle while drunk is often a situation that doesn't end well, as it didn't for Tom. He ended up wrecking his motorcycle, destroying his lower leg, breaking his back and going into a coma. 


"I hate when people blame the bike," Tom said. "It was my own stupidity that did this - not the bike." 


Tom had thought about making the military his career. However, at that time, an amputation meant your military career was over. Tom spent a year working for a prosthetics company, which showed him how much work went into getting the proper fit, as well as the benefit of working with an experienced prosthetist.  


"Ninety-nine percent of people don't even know I wear a peg, which says a lot because I am on my feet 6-7 days a week at work," Tom stated.  "Goes to show how important a good fit is." 


After his recovery and experience working at the prosthetics company, Tom needed an outlet for his passion of helping other people. He found his calling after the tragic death of his nephew, who was murdered by his stepfather. Tom saw this tragic event left the surviving loved ones in a situation they aren't equipped to deal with. It was from this terrible event that Tom founded the Friends of Brandon Foundation (the foundation also has a Facebook page) 


The foundation was created with the mission of "Assisting Victims of Violence and Adversity" in any way possible. The loss of a loved one can be difficult, especially during the holidays. The foundation helps provide Thanksgiving meals, Christmas trees, gifts for children in the family and anything else that can ease the burden of the family. 


"When tragedy happens, that may result in a loss of income," Tom said. "We can help the survivor with budgeting skills.  We offer self-defense and physical fitness instruction.  We are even putting together a Crock Pot cookbook. Anything we can do to help."


Tom came into contact with many veterans through the foundation's work, spurring him to create an annual "Feed Our Heroes" dinner. The free Thanksgiving meal and gathering for veterans served 15 meals the first year. This last year, the third annual, saw over 300 meals served. For 2014, there are plans to add dinners in two more states, as well as plans for becoming a 501c non-profit organization and expanding the event to Easter and Christmas.  


The group also volunteers to visit veterans in nursing homes, something that is life changing, Tom said. 


"You don't realize the impact that a simple visit can have. I can't describe what it's like to have a widow look you in the eyes and thank you," Tom said when talking about a veteran who had recently passed away. 


Though Tom knows he can't save the world, he knows the work he does helps make a difference in people's lives.


"If each person would just help one person, think what a difference that would make." 


Focused on Comfort and Activity: The Ertl Procedure

It wouldn't be a stretch to say the ins and outs of amputation procedures aren't well known by people outside of the industry.Even those in the industry may not know everything that is available in terms of amputation surgery. That's why this month we're taking the role of educator in explaining about a specific procedure, the Ertl procedure. 


The procedure's namesake, Dr. Janos Ertl, immigrated to the United States in 1951. His two sons, William J.J.Ertl and Jan P. Ertl, also came with him and perform the procedure as well.  


The Ertl procedure was developed in 1920 as way to help get more people back into the workforce. It focuses on reducing pain and discomfort to allow for enhanced active ambulation by restoring vascular, neurological and muscular function. 


Certain principles of the Ertl procedure that apply to both transtibial and transfemoral amputation levels include: 

  • Restoring intramedullary pressure and improving circulation by using flexible bone grafts 
  • Performing muscle myoplasty in which opposing muscle ends are sutured together, allowing for active muscle contraction, improving blood circulation, and promoting distal padding for weight bearing 
  • Transection of veins, arteries and nerves to let them retract into soft tissue to reduce discomfort  

The transtibial version of the procedure also includes a "bone bridge" graft between the distal tibia and fibula to increase stability in the fibula and create a better distal weight bearing surface for the residual limb. 


Optimus Prosthetics is proud to be able to work with Dr. Jan Ertl at Indiana University, as well as other trained practitioners, to determine whether the Ertl procedure is in the best interest of a patient for long-term well being. We have seen great success in both the transfemoral and transtibial versions of the procedure at Optimus.  


We are committed to providing all of our patients with top level care in determining the best solution for them, whether it's through the Ertl procedure or other procedures that can be performed.

Jim's Corner
Prosthetic Balance


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.



If you have been following each of these columns you may have noticed I have not addressed gait/prosthetic gait very much yet. When a patient first receives their prosthesis, they can't just pop the leg on and start walking. In addition to prosthetic gait training, the patient's body will have to learn how to use this prosthetic device, how to interact and control the prosthesis.


I think we need to break the requirements for proper prosthetic gait into "building blocks" required for good, efficient prosthetic gait. So far we have touched on: 


Building block #1- residual limb extension,   

Building block #2- prosthetic weight shifting   

For this month's column I would like to address the next important concept a new prosthetic patient needs to learn and master: building block #3 prosthetic balance.


Lack of prosthetic balance is a great fear for the patient because their balance skills do not automatically return once they receive their prosthesis.After an amputation, the body is spatially disorientated; it is no longer receiving sensory information from the missing anatomy and the balance required will probably be altered or distorted. Proper balance is a prerequisite to correct prosthetic gait and patient safety. 


The inability to properly balance on the prosthesis tends to result in a shorter, faster step with the sound limb, and an abnormal and very inefficient prosthetic gait (i.e. a very uneven step/stride length) which will limit the patient's full potential.


A good starting point for clinicians is trying to establish a "quiet stance"


Quiet Stance


To begin, have the patient stand up in the parallel bars or with a stable walker. Have them let go of the bars/walker and try to maintain a quiet stance with no swaying (the pelvis directly above the feet and directly below the shoulders). This is a great place to start since the patient can grab the walker/bars if they need to. Try to increase their time not holding onto anything to help them gain confidence.



Once the patient gains confidence and the quiet stance is no longer a challenge, we can move onto moving the arms. I start with bilateral arm patterns and then progress to alternating arm patterns.  


Standing Balance - Arm Patterns


The patient is to stand evenly on both legs in the quiet stance keeping their trunk still and move their arms in patterns of:


Front Arm Raises 

Side Arm Raises
Circles & Figure 8s

I usually have the patient repeat each exercise 5-15 times and

do 1-3 sets. It is okay to take as many rest breaks as needed working within the patient's tolerance.


When the patient safely masters these patterns we can progress the patient to:

  • using mini-plyoballs or light dumbbells 
  • standing on a compliant surface like foam pads
  • move onto the ball/plyoball program (that is for a later Jim's Corner)  

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 - Huber Heights Health Care - 2/11 - 12:00 


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


C - Mt. Carmel West Rehab - 3/4 - 12:00


C - Laurels of Hilliard - 3/12 - 12:00


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


C - Select Specialty Hospital - 2/13 - 12:00


C - Darby Glenn - 2/19 - 12:00


D - Good Samaritan Hospital - 2/27 - 12:00


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


C - Villa Angela - 2/4 - 12:00


D - Greene Memorial Hospital - 2/17 - 12:00


D - Wilmington Nursing & Rehab - 2/20 - 12:00


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


D - Laurels of Shane Hill - 2/4 - 12:00


C - Kettering Medical Center - 2/6 - 12:00


C - Cypress Pointe - 2/10 - 12:00


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


D - Bethany Village - 2/5 - 12:15 


Course #7 - "Upper-Limb Prosthetics"


D - Residence at Kensington Place - 2/26 - 12:00 


Course #8 - Prosthetic Advances


D - Otterbein by Atrium - 2/13 - 12:00


D - Springmeade - 2/26 - 12:00


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


No courses scheduled


Course #10 - "Microprocessor Controlled Knees"


No courses 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)

Follow Us Online  

Visit Us on Facebook
Visit us on YouTube

Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.