Source: Central Jersey.com
To celebrate another “ampu-versary,” more than 30 New Jerseyans gathered at Hackensack Meridian Health JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute in Edison to share the challenges and joys of life with an artificial limb.
Some of the amputees lost limbs to trauma, and others to medical issues such as cancer, vascular disease or infection. JFK Johnson offers a continuum of care that ranges from surgery to acute care to inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.
Artificial limbs created for each person’s individual needs are made at the JFK Johnson Prosthetics and Orthotics laboratory, also in Edison.
More than 4,000 people in New Jersey experience amputations each year, according to the latest data reported by the Amputee Coalition. Nearly 2 million people live with an amputation in the United States, and approximately 185,0000 amputations occur in the United States each year.
Medical director Dr. Heikki Uustal said people with artificial limbs learn from each other and provide insight that even professionals cannot offer. “When my patients see me they see someone with two arms and legs. They may wonder, ‘Could he really relate to what I go through?’ That’s why we thought it was so important to create this community of education and support.”
“We all have a different story, but it’s great that we come together and share our challenges and realize we are not alone,” says Chris Sickels of Edison, who had one leg amputated as a child and another later in life because of illness. “It’s such a happy group of people. We learn from each other and we also teach each other what we’ve learned about living with amputation.”
“Everybody in this group is so joyful — there is no time to sit around and say, ‘Why me?’” agrees Jan Stubbs of Manchester, who needed an amputation following an infection. “The prosthetic program is wonderful here, and this group makes us all see that there is life after amputation — we’re not in this alone.”
Members of the support group said they share laughter, joy, and even jokes.
One amputee wore a T-shirt that said: “It’s taking longer than I thought for my leg to grow back.” And Jan Stubbs added, “Yes, I get jokes about my name from people who pay attention.”