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:

“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.”

Wendi and her son Hank like paddleboarding, gardening, cooking, going to the skate park, four-wheeling and riding bikes.

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!

Topics:Working When You Have a Limb DifferenceArm Dynamics TeamBeing a Parent with an Upper Limb DifferenceActivity-Specific DevicesAbove the Elbow AmputationsElective Amputation

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Arm Dynamics is the most experienced upper limb prosthetic care provider in the world. Our Upper Limb Library is our community space for articles for and by those with an upper limb difference. Read on to learn all about issues that affect those who have had an amputation, and be sure to leave a comment letting us know what topic you’d like to know more about!


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