Amputee News Roundup With GeekMom Judy

Mike Schultz Photo: FOX Shocks
Mike Schultz
Photo: FOX Shocks

As your resident amputee GeekMom contributor, I like to keep you informed about all the new and exciting things that are going on in the lives of amputees. But sometimes amputee news events are not exciting. They’re downright humbling.

The bombings in Boston were heart breaking for the handful of folks who lost their limbs that day. It also stirred up a lot of memories for many current amputees. For most who have lost limbs, the day of their accident or surgery will be seared in their memories. Amputees and the able bodied alike rallied up in support of these new east coast amputees and most of them are getting ready to meet their new bionic limbs, knowing they have the support of their country behind them.

And now I’d like to share a few happier news events that have popped up in the amputee world. The first has to do with a great guy I’ve already introduced to you. Mike Schultz is a pro athlete (Snocross and Motocross) who lost his leg in 2008 and instead of giving up, he headed to his garage to create a brand new prosthetic leg. He used the FOX shocks he had formerly used on his motocross bikes and made them work for a shock absorbing leg that has allowed him to get back to the competition, and continue to win.

Mike is in the news again. This time he’s been featured in Popular Science Magazine, earning a 2013 Invention Award. Along with things like a home built airplane and data-gathering hand grenade, Mike’s shock absorbing leg stands out as an invention that will help shape the future and is one of Popular Science’s Top 10 Inventions of the year.

Photo: Mike Schultz
Photo: Mike Schultz

Even with his busy schedule of racing and competing, Mike isn’t satisfied to just sit back and win awards. He quickly realized how much his invention could help others. He’s met with injured soldiers and showed them what’s possible in their future. He’s made replicas of his leg for other athletes, and taken to the hills and ski slopes to help them try it out. He’s even worked with Edge Factor, to create a movie that will be shown in schools across the country, hopefully inspiring a new generation to open their minds to high tech manufacturing and how it can change people’s lives.

There is no question in my mind that the work Mike has done, to get himself back in the game, will some day help some of those Boston amputees, and many others who have lost legs and want to get back to their active lives. I met Mike Schultz at the Aspen Winter X Games this year. He’s just as nice in person as he is on tape. My hat is off to all he continues to do in the field of prosthetic construction and design.

The second uplifting bit of amputee related news I’d like to share with you is this video, released in association with the Team Wheaties video series. It features the stories of two athletes, determined to keep pushing forward, and get all they can out of life, despite the speed bumps life threw at them.

Have you ever seen someone walk across a slack line? It’s much like a tight rope, but used by athletes to tweak their balance and strengthen their muscles. In the middle of this video you’ll see Evan Strong walk across a slack line…with one real foot and one prosthetic. Now tell me you can’t find time to visit the gym for a work out today.

Get ready to be inspired, and maybe a bit challenged on your own Spring fitness goals:

Then there’s one last story I want to share with you. You’ve heard that many soldiers lost their limbs in the Iraq war, but have you met the first female amputee in that war?  She was on Katie Couric’s show last week, as they saluted service members on the eve of Memorial Day. Here’s Melissa Stockwell’s story, and how she hopes to be a Paralympian before it’s all over.

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There are many advancements being made in the amputee world, from new designs in crutches to help in recovery, to crazy new feet and hands that get closer and closer to replicating the real thing. In the months to come I look forward to sharing more inspiring stories that show a new side of this growing field. Until then, if you still have all four of your limbs, take a moment to appreciate them today.