Returning to Work After an Elective Amputation
by Amber Henson, on Oct 4, 2022
Wendi Parker began working at Trader Joe’s 19 years ago. At the age of 24, this Oregon native went snowboarding on Mount Hood. Unfortunately, she had an accident where she went head over heels in the snow -- all while her left arm was stuck in the powder. Her elbow joint was shattered, and while it was expected that she would heal, her diabetes complicated matters. The following twelve years were full of pain, and after 19 surgeries on her non-functional arm, Wendi decided she’d had enough. She elected to have an amputation above her elbow. Two weeks later, she was ready to get out there and enjoy an active lifestyle with her eight-year-old son.
Wendi chose to come to our Northwest Center of Excellence in Portland, OR, for her prosthetic rehabilitation. Her prosthetist, MacJulian Lang, CPO, said, “It all starts with making sure that each person is fit with the right prosthesis for the job they’re going to do, and in Wendi’s case, it was an activity-specific device. Our clinical therapy specialist provides prosthetic training that focuses on each person’s functional goals. They often visit the person’s job site to give training on specific work tasks so the patient can excel.”
Wendi’s prosthesis has three interchangeable terminal devices:
- The multi-D pivot from TRS that she uses at work and for weightlifting at the gym
- The Shroom Tumbler from TRS for yoga
- The Variable Pinch-force Prehensor™ (V2P) from ToughWare for holding on to things like the products she stocks at the store
“I put on my arm in the morning and wear it at work all day,” she said. “I lift boxes, stock products, break down pallets, and checkout customers. When I get home, I take it off to shower, then put it back on so that me and my kiddo can get outside and have some fun.”
When a patient returns to work, Lang said that he calls regularly to check on how they’re doing on the job with a prosthesis. “If they have any issues with the fit or function, we want to quickly address those and fix the problem. The whole idea is to ensure the prosthesis helps them thrive on the job.”
Watch Wendi describe her journey and her work in the video below:
Would an elective amputation help you thrive at work? Have you considered getting a prosthetic device that could help you with your job? To learn more about our prosthetic rehabilitation process, please contact us. If you have had an elective amputation and would like to tell your peers about it, or if you have a question for Wendi, please use the comment box below. Thanks for reading!