'Amputee OT' hopes to help others like her

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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A year ago, Christina Stephens' life changed forever.

"I was working on my car and changing the brakes, and I dropped my car on my foot," she said. "It slipped off the jack."

Her foot was broken in eight places; with vascular and nerve damage. Stephens had to choose between a life of pain, or a life without her leg.  The decision: amputation.

"Being more functional is more important to me than saving every little bit of flesh that I could save," Stephens said.

At work, Stephens is an occupational therapist, but online she's known as "Amputee OT."

Stephens makes her own video blogs. She records informational pieces, answers questions, and even throws in some humor.

One video went viral with more than 1.6 million hits. In it, she constructs an entire leg out of Legos.

Stephens says she hopes the videos show other amputees' everyday realities.

"I just kind of wanted to destigmatize that to show that amputees are not scary," she said.

53-year-old Rebecca Bindbeutel had an amputation, and found Stephens' videos. She says one in particular helped her with her biggest daily struggle: getting dressed.

"Nobody told me what to do," Bindbeutel said. "[But] her video did."

Stephens wants to show people what life as an amputee really looks like.

"I want people to know that just because you lost your limb does not mean you lost your life," she said.

You can check out Stephens' videos at www.youtube.com/user/amputeeot.

Additional Information:

Prosthetic legs have truly evolved since the Greek and Roman times. Once made from wood and leather, and evolving into molds that resemble exact replicas of the original limb or body part, prosthetics have changed the lives of amputees for the better. To receive a prosthetic limb, an individual must have experienced a traumatic accident which caused him or her to sacrifice one or multiple limbs. This is commonly seen from ex-soldiers and veterans, but can affect anyone with an illness. The prosthetic is custom built to the patient's unique figure then is fitted to the patient several weeks after the amputation surgery has been completed. (Source: http://science.howstuffworks.com/prosthetic-limb3.htm)

Limb loss statistics:

  • Around 65,000 amputations are performed each year in the U.S.
  • Nearly two million people live with limb loss in U.S.
  • 82 percent of the nearly two million amputees were caused by vascular disease, including diabetes and peripheral arterial disease.
  • 22 percent caused by trauma
  •  Less than 2 percent were caused congenitally
  •  113,000 lower limb amputations are performed each year.
  •  55 percent of people with diabetes who have lower limb amputation will require amputation of the second leg within two to three years. 
  •  Almost 50 percent of people who have an amputation due to vascular disease will die within five years.
  •  80 percent of amputations occur on people over 50.
    (Source: statisticbrain.com/amputee-statistics)

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