Brett McNinch: Attitude Starts with Yourself

Things are going pretty well for Brett McNinch. He has three amazing kids who make his heart smile every day, he's about to run in his first 5k (which he is helping to organize) and he doesn't worry about things he can't control. All of this goodness is a result of his experience of becoming an amputee.

In July of 2014, Brett was riding his motorcycle on US-35 when an uninsured driver going the opposite direction lost control, came through the median and guardrail and hit him head on. After time recovering in the hospital, Brett had his left leg amputated below the knee.

Not one to be held down, Brett's biggest challenges have been in getting his wounds healed fast enough to be able to do what he wanted. In trying times, Brett said he keeps a positive attitude by focusing on things under his control.

"I can't control the things that happen to me, but I can control how I react to them," he said. "There's always somebody fighting a bigger battle than me, so I have a lot for which to be thankful."  

To other amputees struggling, Brett wants them to know they can do more than they think. An amputation is a huge setback, but being persistent and trying over and over will eventually allow you to see results, Brett said.

Another helping hand for Brett has been his relationship with Optimus Prosthetics. From the very beginning, we've enjoyed getting to know Brett and working with him.

"It was a huge help having [Optimus Patient Advocate] Aimee Eckert at my hospital bedside to give me the reassurance that I could overcome this," Brett said.

Now, Brett is ready to run his first 5K, the Greyhound High-Five 5K & 10K, which he is hosting. Inspired by fellow Optimus patient Grace Norman, Brett is looking forward to another chance at conquering his obstacles while helping fellow amputees conquer theirs.
Charlotte Galbreath: Tons of Courage in a Small Package
We work with a good number of children here at Optimus Prosthetics. Seeing their resilience and courage at such a young age has truly made us believe that "big things come in small packages." Five-year old Charlotte Galbreath is another perfect example of this.

Charlotte was born with a birth defect that included not having a fibula bone in her right leg, shortened leg height and only three toes on her right foot. In this situation, doctors usually try to lengthen the bones before amputation if the discrepancy between the limbs is 35 percent or less; Charlotte had a discrepancy of 38 percent. 

Her parents, Elizabeth and Bob, decided a Syme amputation would be the best course of action for her future. They came to this decision after hours spent speaking with surgeons, practitioners and prosthetic companies up and down the East Coast and researching different types of amputations. At only 10 months old, Charlotte had the amputation performed on her right leg.

While the Galbreath family has never had problems staying positive, there were other struggles that occurred early on. Since Charlotte was so young, she had trouble vocalizing pain or other issues. Balancing on ice and playing in snow during winter have also been hard. During other months, Charlotte loves running and playing with her brothers and sisters, but does seem to get upset when she is accidentally left behind (though one of her siblings always comes back to run with her).

Charlotte's parents have also dealt with difficulties. Early on, they had great medical insurance. However, Bob lost his job, forcing the family to rely on Shriner's Hospital and other ways to pay for medical necessities.

Depsite all of this, Charlotte has grown and become her own best advocate. She even has a sense of humor about her leg, referring to it as "stumpy" when others ask about her leg. She also wants to start doing tap lessons soon. 

Bob and Elizabeth offered a few pieces of wisdom to others facing amputation and to parents of child amputees:
  • Don't go based off the first options given to you
  • When it comes to practitioners, the one your child is most comfortable with will be the best fit
  • Stay true to your child
  • Don't get discouraged
Charlotte loves working with Tim Riedlinger at Optimus. Her comfort level with Tim and his attention to detail were huge reasons why the family chose Optimus. 

From our perspective, we're very glad they did so that we could get to know this extraordinary girl and her amazing family.
Greyhound High-Five 5K & 10K
New Lebanon Youth Athletics, Inc. is hosting the Greyhound High-Five 5k/10k on Saturday, July 18. This event is walk or run, with money from each registration going to a good cause:
  • NLYA donates $1 from every registration to Dixie High School Athletic Boosters
  • NLYA donates $1 from every registration to Grace Norman, US Paralympic athlete from Xenia Christian HS.  
  • NLYA donates $1 from every registration to Create A New Lebanon, non-profit group. 
A few awesome additional features of this race include professional chip-timed bibs, Mobile apps, tech T-shirts, photographed finishes, lots of high-fives, spectators, music, painted high-fives on your shirt, awards, spirit prizes, snack goodie bag and more!

The course will be an out and back layout utilizing the high school track for the finish. With 15 different divisions (including team awards and most spirited awards), the Greyhound High-Five 5K/10K is perfect for walkers and runners of all ages and ability levels. 

You can find out more information and get registered online here for this amazing event!
Jim's Corner


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.



PVC Hurdles



For this month's issue we are going to look at one of my favorite tools and techniques to aid an amputee patient in learning prosthetic weight bearing, prosthetic control, establishing a soft sound limb landing and improving their prosthetic gait: PVC hurdles!


The idea is for the patient to learn how to bear weight on their prosthesis, balance on their prosthesis, step up and over an obstacle (the hurdle) with the sound limb first and emphasizing a soft sound limb landing. A question might be "why the soft sound limb landing?" About 82 percent of lower extremity amputations result from the dysvascular disease process. We must keep in mind that roughly 25 percent of dysvascular amputees will lose the opposite limb within three years (although some recent presentations I have been to state the numbers are increasing to 38-50 percent).


In my opinion we have to make the prosthetic leg the good leg. Also, without proper training the amputee patient can increase the overuse of the sound limb by 70 percent.


Making PVC hurdles is simple. The only equipment needed to make them is a saw, PVC elbows and a long PVC pipe that you can get at any home improvement store, and cut to the desired length and height. The ones that I use today are the ones I made back in the early 1990's. 




PVC Hurdles-Forward
The patient stands on the prosthesis and attempts to step slowly over the hurdle with their sound limb first trying to emphasize a soft landing with the sound limb. Once the patient lands on the sound limb they will usually have to abduct/circumduct the prosthesis to bring it around for the next hurdle. This is due to no active knee control for an above-knee amputee or a possible socket design for the below-knee amputee. Focus on keeping the hips even with each other, the pelvis level and not leaning way over the prosthetic limb. Also remember to maintain a backward force within the socket to help maintain stability and prosthetic stance engagement. When the patient masters this we can increase the size of the hurdles (6", 8", 10" or 12") and also progress out of the bars or the walker with an appropriate assistive device or no assistive device if they are able.







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

In This Issue

D = Dayton Area

C = Columbus Area


Course #1

D- 7/7, Beavercreek Health, 12:15 p.m.


C- 7/22, Monterey Care Center, 11:30 a.m.


Course #2

No courses scheduled.


Course #3

D- 7/13, Dayton Rehab, 12:00 p.m.


D- 7/30, Kindred Lebanon, 12:00 p.m.


Course #4

D- 7/8, Springmeade, 12:00 p.m.


D- 7/16, Maria Joseph, 12:30 p.m.


D- 7/17, Crestview, 12:00 p.m.


Course #5

No courses scheduled.


Course #6

D- 7/7, Buckeye Home Healthcare Cincinnati, 8:30 a.m.


D- 7/10, Clinton Memorial, 12:00 p.m.


D- 7/24, Soin Medical Center, 12:00 p.m.


Course #7

D- 7/9, Friendship Village, 12:00 p.m.


Course #8

D- 7/20, Huber Heights Health Care, 12:00 p.m.


D- 7/22, Xcel Sports Medicine, 12:00 p.m. 


Course #9

No courses scheduled.


Course #10

D- 7/23, Kingston of Miamisburg, 12:15 pm.


D- 7/29, Miami Valley Hospital, 12:30 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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