Whether you fall down once or a hundred times, it’s the getting back up and trying again that makes someone successful in overcoming anything in their path.
Dream Team Prosthetics hosted an International Bilateral Amputee Summit Life Camp with an outdoor training opportunity at Fuqua Park in Duncan.
On Friday, Oct. 1, the Bilateral Life Camp brought several individuals from around the world, as well as throughout the United States, to the area to focus on advanced prosthetic technology, as well as to receive vital information and to learn daily mobility skills.
Locally owned, Dream Team Prosthetics is operated by business partners Chad Simpson, Brandy Simpson and Randy Richardson.
Chad Simpson, Clinical Director and Certified Prosthetist, said the event will help engage and inspire their most severely injured patients — “those with bilateral above knee limb loss.”
“Each year this event grows and touches more individuals dealing with bilateral limb loss to become a part of a very motivated group of individuals, helping them achieve their own mobility goals,” Chad Simpson said, noting that the last three days they’ve worked with advanced individuals, beginners and some with no prosthetics at all.
“It’s a great opportunity for all these folks to get together, compare notes,” Chad Simpson said. “Hopefully elevate themselves to a higher level of independence and ambulation with prosthetic use.”
Brandy Simpson, office manager, said Dream Team Prosthetics has been in Duncan since January 2017. The camp, she said, allows wounded service members with bilateral limb loss and above amputees an opportunity to get together and talk about the goals they have for themselves, as well as life hacks on how to do things.
“Our goal is to just get them back out there and doing what they love to do,” Brandy Simpson said.
According to Brandy Simpson, individuals come from all over to attend their camps — from New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Ohio, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, New Jersey, Missouri, Maryland, New Mexico, all the way to Columbia, Guatemala and as far away as Norway.
Randy Richardson, prosthetic assistant and media team, said the life camp give individuals an opportunity to learn from others’ experiences.
“This is a very unique event that brings together individuals with bilateral above knee limb loss from all across the country and internationally to learn from each other and develop better mobility skills,” Richardson said. “It’s all about improving their function in daily life and being able to go out in the real world, carry groceries in, be a father, be a mother, do whatever they need to do in their daily life, using two prosthetic legs.”
According to Richardson, the knees on the prosthetics are computer controlled, with a microprocessor, a lithium ion rechargeable battery, gyroscopes, accelerometers and different sensory arrays to sense walking.
“It makes adjustments 100 times per second while they’re walking,” Richardson said.
Richardson said their goal is to have every participant be able to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone.
“They learn new things and they get more comfortable in their environment,” Richardson said. “So when they go out to normal everyday situations, it’s not as difficult.”
Participants learned the art of stepping up and down with their prosthetics and worked to build their confidence.
This goes hand in hand with how Dream Team helps their patients through customizing their own prosthetics, and helping them build stamina and develop balance.
Aside from the full prosthetic, Dream Team uses smaller versions to help patients with training that don’t stand quite as high. Richardson said this helps develop control in patients.
“They are a smaller pad that enables the patient to have really good stability when they are starting out,” Richardson said. “It gives them the ability to train and develop their balance and muscle tone and their stamina so they can graduate to the taller prosthetic knees with the hydraulics.”
Many of those who have joined in the camp love the support they have received and encouragement from other participants.
Carlos Barela, from New Mexico, said he loves the support he receives from those at the camp.
“They’re all really encouraging,” Barela said. “These guys, for being a small town — I’m from a small town — it has that small town feel where everyone’s like a family.”
Rome Leykin said this is his first year at the Life Camp.
“I lost my legs in 2018, because I had a seizure and I was run over by a subway,” Leykin said. “I spent a few years in a wheelchair and in January I had made the determination to ditch my wheelchair all together and instead of just trying to force the sea leg with tech leg issue, I listened to them and I said ’shorties first,’ then let it go naturally and that has been the journey. Once I was able to stand — game on, it’s a whole knew world again and it just feels — rebirth.”
Marci Cirell, from Pennsylvania, said this is her first time with the “stubbies” or the version that isn’t quite as tall.
“I’m blown away just seeing the capability of people, because I have two kids,” Cirell said. “Just using the ability to do the things that they’re doing here and realizing that I can still be a mom to my kids.”
Cirell said it’s been life changing for her to get to experience what others can do and to have the help and support of others as she learns these mobility skills.
According to Cirell, it helps hearing the words of encouragement and watching others in the same position as her stay persistent.
Andrew Palin, from Rhode Island, said he feels with the help of the Dream Team, they are able get their lives back.
“This is where dreams are made,” Palin said.
For more information about Dream Team Prosthetics, LLC, visit http://dreamteamprosthetics.com/ or contact Dream Team at 580-255-2100.
Dream Team Prosthetics is located at 7111 Nix Drive in Duncan, with business hours from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.