For most athletes, a marathon is the farthest they’ve ever attempted to run, but for amputee and world-record marathon runner, Amy Dodson gearing up for a marathon is a warm-up compared to preparing for a triathlon. Having competed in many triathlons in the past, Amy continues to go full force each year working to beat her personal record. Biking seriously for the past four years, Amy first started riding with a close friend. Today, she is found competing all over the world.
Amy and her prosthetist Jan Stokosa, C.P., operate like a team. Jan focuses on the mechanics, while Amy determines whether she will have maximum strength when she takes the leg to competitions. The biking leg has been uniquely designed to connect directly to the pedal. It will be modified to meet her individual needs.
Typical Training Day… Amy Dodson is determined to keep up her athletic lifestyle while still managing a heavy workload as a teacher and a family. Now that the school year is complete, you would think that Amy has extra time on her hands, but her day starts earlier than you might expect. A typical work day for Amy begins not at 8 AM, but at 4:30 AM, she drinks a protein-filled shake and by 5:30 she’s en route for her 7-10 mile run. She then inhales a protein bar and moves into her next workout – swimming for an hour and a half. By noon she’s more than two-thirds of her ways done. She breaks for lunch and then it’s off to training for the next 2-4 hours – this time only on the bike.
In addition to this daily routine, Amy weight trains five days a week, focusing on different muscle groups each day and a couple of nights a week she ventures off to the nearby lakes and does open water swimming. You would think that’s enough, but for this avid athlete it’s not. One day a week Amy goes to Ann Arbor and does a “brick” workout — a bike run. In an average week, Amy is running 60-70, biking 200-300 miles and swimming 10 miles.
She is very conscious about eating organic, multi-grain foods, and drinking plenty of fluids. She is a member of the Paralympics Development Team and one of 12 amputee athletes to compete in triathlons nationwide. Her goal is to establish triathlon as a competition in the 2008 Paralympics in Beijing. Just The Stats… Amy holds the World Record in Triathlons for female below the knee amputees. She recently won first place in the Silver Strand Half Marathon in San Diego, finishing with a time of 1:55. She stands as fourth time winner of the National Half Marathon Championship. Amy also took first place in her division in the 2004 Accenture Chicago Triathlon.
Having completed ten marathons to date, Amy set the world record in October 2002 at the St. George, Utah, Marathon. At this marathon, she outpaced the former record, set by Lindsay Nielsen in 1999, by over 24 minutes. As a newcomer to triathlons, Amy won the gold medal in her division in the ITU World Championship Olympic Distance Triathlon held in Queenstown, New Zealand, in December 2003. Amy’s Story… Amy Dodson, 42, lost her left leg and lower lobe of her left lung to cancer (undifferentiated sarcoma) in 1983 and began distance running 15 years later. In 1999 she began running marathons, and in 2003 began competing in triathlons, capturing the gold medal in the 5000 meter at the DSUSA National Games in 1999.
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There are a lot of prosthetic devices available today. How do I know which prosthetic foot or knee is best for me?
There are many variables that must be considered when selecting a prosthetic foot or knee product. This includes the height and weight of the product as well as the functional benefits it offers. There are also considerations around your body weight, requirements for battery-power, water resistance, etc. Your mobility ‘K-Level’, as defined by Medicare, will determine the types of technology your insurance will cover. All of these things must be carefully reviewed and analyzed by your prosthetist. And it’s important that you voice your lifestyle concerns, functional goals and aspirations as a part of the evaluation process.
We offer a broad range of prosthetic foot products in an effort to meet the varying needs of amputees globally. Our foot products are divided into six subcategories based on the type of user profile they accommodate best.
K2– New, or single-speed ambulator, requires stability for lower impact activities.
Active – Requires dynamic performance for everyday use, sports, and higher impact vocations.
Everyday – Classic ambulator, requires good performance for K3-level low to moderate impact activities, primarily walking.
Style – Prioritizes cosmetics and/or seeks heel height adjustability.
Specialty – Requires specialized prosthesis due to amputation level or body weight.
Extreme Sports – Seeking sports-specific prosthesis to optimize athletic performance.
Can I buy Freedom Innovations products direct?
Freedom Innovations products should be fitted and ordered by qualified prosthetists. We are unable to sell directly to the public. Your prosthetist will make sure that you are measured and fit properly to achieve the best possible results. He or she will also be able to discuss pricing and insurance coverage.
How do I find a prosthetist in my area?
Use our Prosthetist Finder tool to find a prosthetist in your area familiar with our product line. Many of these prosthetists have completed the Freedom Institute of Technology’s (FIT) clinical education programs designed to ensure the best outcomes with our products. This includes coursework on carbon fiber foot selection and fitting and how to properly fit and program the Plié Knee.
How soon after the amputation surgery can a prosthetic foot or knee be fit?
The process can begin once your residual limb has healed. Normally it takes approximately four to eight weeks to heal as long as there are no post-operative complications involved.
Will I be able to do all of the things I did before I lost my limb?
Our goal at Freedom Innovations is to allow you to achieve your full potential. We have many, many success stories in which our customers have gone back and excelled at the activities they once enjoyed. Some individuals even find that they are motivated to challenge themselves with new hobbies and athletic activities. The key is staying motivated and working with a good network of healthcare professionals including your prosthetist, physical and occupational therapists, and others. And of course, we are committed to providing the prosthetic technology that will enable you to achieve your goals.
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Is wearing a prosthesis painful?
Acclimating to life as a new amputee is not without its challenges. Achieving a good socket fit is critical and it can take time because revisions are often needed to accommodate your limb, which will change in size and shape especially in the beginning. However, your prosthesis should not be painful. If you are uncomfortable, especially if you begin to experience skin breakdowns, contact your prosthetist for an adjustment. He or she is committed to your health, comfort and overall well-being.
How will my prosthesis stay on?
There are many different suspension options to ensure that your prosthesis stays attached to your residual limb. This includes various socket shapes, pin locking systems and vacuum suspensions. Talk to your prosthetist about the best option for your anatomy and your lifestyle.
What kind of shoes can I wear with my foot product?
You can wear many different types of shoes, including boots, sneakers, dress shoes, sandals and even high heels with certain prosthetic foot technology. Our Runway foot allows you to walk barefoot at home (no heel height) in the morning and with a simple adjustment, transition to wearing heels up to 2 inches (5 cm) for work or a night out. We also offer the broadest range of sandal toe options for those that love to wear ‘flip-flops’ or sandals during the summer months. Read more here.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring your favorite shoes to your prosthetist so the possibilities can be explored and, if necessary, a fit test can be conducted.
How long will my prosthesis last?
The life of your prosthesis will vary depending on how much you use it, how well you take care of it, and the general environment in which it operates. Our foot and knee products are generally sold with a 36 month warranty. (Product-specific warranty periods are listed on each product webpage.) Liners have a shorter life expectancy and are sold with a 6-12 month warranty.
Ask your prosthetist for instructions regarding the proper care and cleaning techniques for your prosthetic leg.
Are there any resources available for new amputees?
Yes! There are many online resources and support groups that provide vital information for new amputees and their families. Use these resources to connect with others who have overcome similar challenges. The Amputee Coalition of America provides a listing of over 260 support groups. To locate a group in your area, please click: http://www.amputee-coalition.org/support-groups-peer-support/support-group-network/index.asp
360 O&P is an online tool for people in the Orthotic and Prosthetic community to both learn and share information, technologies and their experience with others. It also provides the ability for medical professionals to communicate and educate directly to those within the O & P Community.
The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics (ABC)
The American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics is the national certifying and accrediting body for the orthotic and prosthetic professions. Use the directory search to locate certified clinicians in your area.
The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association (AOPA)
The American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association, through government relations efforts, works to raise awareness of the profession and impact policies that affect the future of the O&P industry.
Adaptive Action Sports
Co-founded by Amy Purdy, Adaptive Action Sports creates skateboard, snowboard, and other action sport camps, events and programs for youth, young adults and wounded veterans living with permanent physical disabilities, TBI and PTSD.
Amputee Coalition of America (ACA)
Amputee Coalition of America reaches out to people with limb loss and empowers them through education, support and advocacy.
Disabled Sports USA
Seeks to provide the opportunity for individuals with disabilities to gain confidence and dignity through participation in sports, recreation and related educational programs.
A global resource for orthotic and prosthetic information.
Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Fund (OPAF)
Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Fund enables individuals served by the orthotic and prosthetic community to enjoy the rewards of personal achievement, physical fitness and social interaction.