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TV program publicizes prosthetic 'miracle'.

Heather Mills drew national attention for dancing with a prosthesis on the television program, "Dancing with the Stars," but each day, millions of persons face the challenges of amputation with courage, earning their own place among the stars.

According to the Amputee Coalition of America, there were 1.285 million people in the United States living with limb loss (excluding fingers and toes) in 1996.

One such person who has suffered an amputation is 9-year-old Samantha from New Hampshire, who was recently amputated above the knee as a result of cancer. When she entered Next Step Orthotics and Prosthetics Inc. to be fitted for a state-of-the-art prosthesis, her own positive attitude and motivation highlighted the company's entire mission--to allow amputees to live a full and rewarding life, and in doing so, educate the public about amputation.

When joining the cast of "Dancing with the Stars," Heather Mills said she hoped her participation would encourage other amputees and allow them to see that they can do anything they set their minds to--and more. This rang true for Samantha, whose friend wrote to Heather Mills with her story and Heather Mills responded--with an invite to the Show's finale. Again, showing the possibilities.

While some high-profile amputees have recently drawn attention to the topic of amputation, the public still does not know a lot about it. Many think that limb loss is only due to trauma, when in fact infection, diabetes, vascular disease, cancer and other diseases can all lead to amputation. Further, limb loss is more often the result of, rather than the cause of, other health problems. And many think that once someone is fit with a prosthesis, they are set for life. Not the case. As the body changes, so must the prosthesis. Heather Mills even had to get a new prosthesis to be able to perform some of the dances on "Dancing with the Stars."

It's more than the new components that Heather highlighted on the national show, however. It's that given the right attitude and the right prosthesis, anything is possible for amputees, as evidenced by the comment of the mother of 15-year-old Andrew, a client of Next Step as a bilateral amputee. "I remember the smile on Andrew's face when he first tried his new legs. After a few adjustments, he was walking around, running and jumping--it was like a miracle."

There are many such miracles.

Peter Couture is president and clinical director of Manchester-based Next Step Orthotics and Prosthetics Inc.
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Author:Couture, Peter
Publication:New Hampshire Business Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 6, 2007
Words:414
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