PHILADELPHIA — Össur and the Challenged Athletes Foundation are partnering to host leg amputee running and mobility clinics, with the most recent clinic occurring at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia on Saturday, May 19.
Amputees of all ages and athletic ability were invited to learn from amputee running and training experts Bob Gailey, PhD, PT and Peter Harsch, CP. More than 50 participants attended the clinic and were instructed in leg over leg running, proper technique to improve speed and balance and how to maximizing their prosthetic capabilities.
Bob Gailey, PhD, PT, instructs participants on proper form.
The participants were divided into groups, advanced and novice, based on their experience and desired level of activity, and children participated in the junior athletes training. A multitude of volunteers, orthotists, prosthetists and physical therapists were available to provide individualized instruction and one-on-one support for all of the participants.
“This is a growing movement that we are a part of,” Gailey said. “Even 10 years ago, very few amputees knew how to run, and today we have over 50 people here participating.
“The most important goal for today is take what you learn and keep pushing it forward. Hopefully you meet a friend or two or three, because no athletes can do this on their own,” he said. “Not even Olympic or Paralympic athletes train by themselves — everyone has people to help them.”
The participants also heard other amputees share their stories and experiences. The speakers included Peggy Chenoweth, a below-knee amputee, who related her personal struggles with overcoming her amputation.
“I didn’t realize that I was my own disability, not my foot. I wasn’t doing things because I was afraid,” she said. “One day, I woke up and looked at my little boy, who was one at the time, and realized that there was nothing I could do about him having an amputee mom except to be the best mom possible, and I decided to change my life.
“Because it doesn’t matter what your 100% looks like. Whatever it looks like, just take it wherever you want to go. I don’t do these clinics to run on a track. I do these clinics because my little boy is getting older and I need to get faster to keep up with him and be the kind of mom that I want to be,” she said.
Össur and CAF will continue to host running clinics across the country, with the next one taking place on June 10 in North Bergen, N.J. — by Megan Gilbride