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Carolyn Schnell: Overcoming Adversity

Carolyn Schnell was diagnosed with Peripheral Vascular Disease and eventually had a below the knee amputation of her right leg. Soon after losing her leg, she realized the hardest part of dealing with the amputation was coping with the aftermath and the limitation that were caused by the surgery. Since her surgery, Carolyn has overcome many obstacles and sometimes she even forgets she is missing a leg.


Carolyn has overcome adversity before the amputation because she has been deaf most of her life and raised two sons as a single mother. Through her struggles, she realized she is blessed because she now has five grandchildren and a wonderful support system that will not leave her side. Between her immediate family and her Optimus family, Carolyn knows she has people by her through her difficulties with the amputation.


She is able to keep a positive attitude because she has a desire to improve the quality of her life even though at times giving up seems easier. Her positive attitude prevails through the momentary discouragement. Family, friends, and the family at Optimus motivated Carolyn to stay positive. Throughout her journey with the amputation she has learned more about herself and valuable life lessons.


"Amputation seemed like the worst possible situation. But, with work, help from family, and good, knowledgeable professionals I learned that amputation is not the worst possible situation," Carolyn said.


Her encouragement to others living with an amputation is that a normal modified life can be achieved and happiness can be a reality again. She also advises others to work hard, stay focused, and don't forget the past and the "good memories." There are plenty more memories to be made with family and friends.


Carolyn is especially grateful for those who have been by her side through the journey at Optimus Prosthetics and thanks the entire Columbus team.  

Staying Cool with a Prosthetic

With summer in full swing and temperatures becoming uncomfortably hot, we want you to stay cool while wearing a prosthetic. In honor of July being known as the dog days of summer, we want you to stay cool with your prosthetic to live a relaxing and fun-filled season. Optimus Prosthetics has come up with a list of ways for you to stay cool with your prosthetic and survive the hottest days of the year.

Staying cool with a prosthetic:

  • A little baby powder can go a long way. Baby powder has the ability to absorb sweat around where your prosthetic and skin covering join. Remember: a small amount works well, when it gets to be too much, you will be dealing with a mess. Keep a travel size bottle in your purse, car, or in a place you find convenient.
  • Non-perfumed women's deodorant can help with odor and sweating. Applying the deodorant before putting on your prosthetic will work best for reducing sweat. Women's deodorant is key, even for the men!
  • Think about switching your prosthetic sock to a thinner layered option. With the variety of seasons and weather, using a different sock may better suit your needs. A thin nylon sheath or prosthetic sock will help to circulate air under the prosthetic, in turn cooling the area. Important reminder: steer clear of wrinkles in the stocking because this can cause skin breakdown.

Staying cool with a prosthetic is all about being comfortable and healthy so skin irritations do not occur. Always take proper precautions when it comes to summer heat and your prosthetic. If you ever have questions about staying cool with a prosthetic or if you want more information about your particular prosthetic, please contact us for assistance. We hope you enjoy the summer weather and all the activities that come along with the season. 

Rick Young: Like Father Like Son 


Growing up, Rick Young saw firsthand what it was like for someone to live with an amputation of the arm below the elbow. When Rick was a child, his father lost the lower half of his arm due to a farming accident when he was only 26 years old. He saw his father overcome obstacles because of his arm amputation accident and had been dealing with it his whole life.


In 2005 on an early October morning, the unthinkable happened and while working Rick lost his arm below the elbow while cleaning sand out of some machinery. The accident occurred because another worker bypassed the lockout, which turned the machinery on. Following the incident, Rick has gone through sixteen surgeries for various reasons including his latest procedure in 2012 for nerve damage. Rick said the hardest thing to deal with besides the many surgeries was the process involved when dealing with Worker's Compensation.


Rick overcomes the challenges associated with his amputation injury by not feeling sorry for himself because that is what his father always told him. He believes in this philosophy because he says if you feel sorry for yourself, you are never going to get through the situation and move on. Growing up around an amputee has made Rick's journey different than many other amputees and it has helped him work through the struggles. He has been able to keep a positive attitude and stay strong throughout the past nine years.


Rick's advice to others would be to live your life because there is no time to feel sorry for yourself. He knows it could always be worse and he urges others to think positively. To this day, Rick still can do all the things he did before the accident happened and lives a normal life. Rick was recently fitted in January 2014 at Optimus Prosthetics with an iLimb which is controlled by an iPod touch.

Jim's Corner
Ingredients Needed for Proper Prosthetic Knee Bend


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.


For the last several months I have been writing about various treatment strategies, the "prosthetic building blocks" to lay a good foundation for prosthetic patients to achieve good & efficient prosthetic gait. So a question might be, why? A different example would be that many times I will hear frustration from patients of "I can't get my prosthetic knee to bend" and frustration from clinicians "I can't get the patient to bend their prosthetic knee." So with this month's issue we will be discussing the ingredients required for proper prosthetic stance disengagement to allow for swinging. Ironically the "ingredients" start with prosthetic stance.


So why do I want the prosthetic knee to bend? Most prosthetic knees are designed to attempt to do what the anatomical knee does. One function of an anatomical knee is to bend to achieve toe clearance during the swing phase of gait. When an anatomical and/or a prosthetic knee does not bend for the swing phase, the patient will have to compensate. Usually by vaulting, circumduction, hiking etc. When any compensation occurs, this will lead to an inefficient prosthetic gait pattern which will further increase the patient's energy cost. Also, remember with a manually locking knee, we will sacrifice this for the tradeoff of maximum stability.


When a patient has a prosthetic knee that is engineered for the release of stance engagement/stability as the patient moves to prosthetic swing many "ingredients" have to be present for the knee to release or bend for prosthetic swing. To keep things real simple let's look at two main "ingredients" which generally consist of:


Proper residual limb extension


This is required to achieve a prosthetic limb terminal stance. When a patient achieves a prosthetic limb terminal stance the prosthetic knee says "I am entering the swing phase so I must now release." Additionally, residual limb extension will aid the patient to maintain a backward force within the socket that will help to maintain stability in their prosthetic stance. This will also set the stage for proper sound limb step/stride length and the forward/transverse rotation of the pelvis (a complex concept we will save for another day).


Proper prosthetic weight bearing


This is required to properly load the prosthetic toes.  At terminal stance prosthetic knees are generally engineered to have the patient's body weight on the prosthetic toes. The patient will need to have their body weight on their prosthetic toes vs. just balancing on the prosthetic foot/ toes.

There are more concepts of course but I feel these are the main two. It is easier to say than to do, so next month we will look at some common mistakes that will occur with this. I have included some pictures below to see how a good terminal stance will set the stage for a good prosthetic swing. 

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


Course #2

D - 7/9/14 - Heartland of Bellfontaine 12:15 p.m.


D - 7/9/14 - Crossroads 12 p.m.


D - 7/17/14 - Soin 12 p.m.


Course #3

D - 7/2/14 - Mt. Carmel Rehab and Sports Medicine 11:15 a.m. 


D - 7/7/14 - Oaks of West Kettering 12 p.m.


D - 7/30/14 - Springfield Regional 12 p.m.


Course #4

D- 7/31 - Astoria 12 p.m.


Course #5

D - 7/2/14 - Greene Memorial 12 p.m.


C - 7/15/14 - Villa Angella 12 p.m.


D - 7/16/14 - Koester 12 p.m.


D - 7/23/14 - MVH 12:30 p.m.


D - 7/23/14 - Atrium Rehab 3 p.m.


Course #6

C - 7/8/14 - Rehab and Subacute Institute 12 p.m.


D - 7/10/14 - Wilson Memorial 12 p.m.


Course #7

D - 7/3/14 - Kingston of Miamisburg 12 p.m.


Course #8

D - 7/8/14 - KMC Beavercreek 12 p.m.


C - 7/22/14 - St. Ann's Rehab 12 p.m.


D - 7/24/14 - Kindred Lebanon 12 p.m.


Course #9

D - 7/17/14 - Sanctuary of Wilmington 12 p.m.


D - 7/23/14 - Maria Joseph 


Course #10

D - 7/11/14 - Crestview 12 p.m.

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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