Experiencing an amputation and considering a prosthesis can be an emotionally draining and financially confusing experience.
While prosthetic devices help to get back to life, it helps to have someone to talk to every step of the way.
That’s why Powell offers a mentoring program for both orthotic and prosthetic patients to understand the process from someone who has already worked with Powell.
“We feel education plays a vital role to facilitate positive patient outcomes and progress patients toward community re-entry and independence,” says Joe Sullivan, owner of Powell Orthotics and Prosthetics and himself an amputee. “Our first meeting with the patient could be one of the most important. That meeting should be personable and informative and help to contribute to a more positive outcome.”
Powell’s mentoring program also coordinates an introduction between two similar patients based on ability, disability or disease to help them understand and more quickly adapt to their new situation.
“I encourage physicians to consider early intervention, even pre-surgical, to prepare the patient for what to expect,” Joe says. “Some patients may have an amputation and sit there for three weeks until they’re ready for the prosthetic device. It’s incredibly helpful to be able to have someone to talk to about different levels of amputation, about activities and even what it’s like to deal with insurance.”
Knowing another amputee to talk to is essential, he adds.
“A lot of amputees go through the stages of denial at first,” Joe says. “We help them through that. It’s going to occur. It’s normal to go through that. Having someone to ask questions like how to drive, how to shower and the best way to sleep is so important. Once they get their device they’ll have questions.”
Joe himself offers a treasure trove of advice. He’s the only amputee Certified Prosthetist in Richmond offering mentoring to amputees using his life experiences coupled with over 20 years of experience in the prosthetics field.
He became an amputee at the age of six months due to cancer. He can explain to kids what it’s like to grow up with a prosthetic device. As a retired Paralympian, he can offer advice on how to train and remain active.
“With the mentoring program you get a little of everything depending on your activity and goals,” Joe says. “It’s all about helping people maximize their abilities and putting them on an equal playing field.”
Along with Joe, all of Powell’s mentors are certified through the Amputee Coalition of America.