WillowWood Blog

Excellence in Ecuador

November 12th, 2014 by WillowWood

WillowWood is fortunate to have a global network of distribution companies to provide sales and support for our products around the world. We love hearing about the great work that they’re doing, and we enjoy sharing it with you. In this month’s blog, we are highlighting some recent activities in Ecuador.

Uniting Frontiers Forum

The Uniting Frontiers Forum is an international conference for professionals in the fields of prosthetics, orthotics, orthopedics, and physical rehabilitation. Two years ago, during the 5th Uniting Frontiers Forum in Mexico, it was proposed that the 6th Forum in 2014 should be held in Ecuador. This was very exciting news for PROTELITE, a provider of O&P services in Ecuador that has also served as our distribution partner there for many years.

Diego Muñoz, Manager of PROTELITE, was named President of the organizing committee. He worked hard for two years to prepare for the meeting, which was held October 19-22 in Quito. Rosie Jované of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics (ISPO) Executive Board provided significant assistance, along with members of the U.S. and Ecuador chapters of ISPO. PROTELITE and its team of volunteers were able to manage the huge amount of work necessary to create a successful event for attendees from 22 different countries.

PROTELITE’s President, Santiago Muñoz, was also quite busy during the forum. In addition to serving as the International Representative for Ecuador’s ISPO chapter, he also taught a well-attended seminar on the LimbLogic® System with his colleague Luis Estevez. The seminar ended with a special demonstration of LimbLogic’s capabilities — click the link to watch!  http://youtu.be/kP26Pz0MbuU

Study Abroad Program

Experienced professionals weren’t the only ones at the Uniting Frontiers Forum; there was also a group of students from the United States in attendance. Santiago, an instructor at the University of Pittsburgh’s Master of Sciences in O&P Program, created a Study Abroad opportunity for the students to attend the conference and also provide O&P services to people in Ecuador. Santiago shared the stories of Briana and Angel, two of the patients who were treated by the students with support from WillowWood and Becker Orthopedic.

Briana was born without legs below her knees. Her parents couldn’t find any support or help for her until they until they arrived at PROTELITE. The students were able to fit her with her very first “stubbies” to develop her gait. In few more weeks she will be introduced to prosthetic feet and knees. The students did a terrific job during her evaluation and treatment.

The students also evaluated and casted Angel Pulla, a veteran athlete who has participated in hundreds of athletic tournaments in Ecuador and overseas during the past 16 years. Angel was one of the very first users of Alpha® Liners in Ecuador in 1996, and has been using the liners ever since. Because of Angel’s high level of activity, the students suggested switching from his Alpha Locking Classic 9mm Tapered Liner to an Alpha SmartTemp™ Liner and a LimbLogic® System. Angel was a little bit skeptical, but after they fabricated his new socket, he was impressed with the perfect fit and precise suspension.

A few days later, on October 26th, Angel ran the 5-mile Poland Spring Marathon Kick Off with 2,000 other runners in New York’s Central Park. Angel finished first among the several amputees who participated! He said it was the first race that he finished without a blister on the end of his limb. He improved his time by almost 15 minutes and he had no perspiration during the race, other than a little bit of moisture along the top edge of the liner. He didn’t have to stop several times like he used to have to do to accommodate the internal rotation of the socket due to poor suspension.

Angel and Briana

A New Venture

Santiago and Diego recently announced the introduction of a new company called ORTHOPROTESICA, created specifically to focus on the distribution aspect of their business. We congratulate them on the launch of this new brand, and are excited to see the opportunities that it presents!

New Zealand and Australia OMEGA® Training Tour

August 28th, 2014 by WillowWood

This month’s blogger is Clinical Support Prosthetist Jennifer Dowell, CPO/LPO.

After WillowWood released completely new and renovated OMEGA software, I traveled to New Zealand and Australia to work with WillowWood’s distribution partner in that part of the world, Masson’s Healthcare, to provide training and support. Owner Anton Karak and I-En Lim from Masson’s office in Melbourne, Australia were my hosts for this adventure.

1st Stop: New Zealand Artificial Limb Services, Wellington, New Zealand

Anton, I-En, and I spent May 26 and 27 with a group of prosthetists from New Zealand’s Artificial Limb Service centers based throughout the country. We focused our time on the new OMEGA software, the OMEGA Scanner 3D, and other WillowWood products. This NZALS group was impressive. They are innovative and don’t shy away from a prosthetic challenge.

2nd Stop: Skeletal Support Systems in Cairns, AU

After spending May 28th traveling to Cairns, we spent two days with Ryan Kelly and Daniel Baldwin of Skeletal Support Systems. This session was focused on both prosthetic and orthotic applications, but with some specific focus on cranial remolding helmets and AFO applications. Ryan and Daniel provide a full spectrum of orthotic and prosthetic services throughout the far reaches of Queensland – a state that covers almost 2 million square kilometers!

While Anton and I-En went home for the weekend, I did a little snorkeling and got to hold a koala.

3rd Stop: Orthotic Solutions- Chermside, AU ( Brisbane area)

Anton, I-En and I reconvened in Brisbane to train Clint and Bianca Nielsen and their fabulous staff at Orthotic Solutions on Monday and Tuesday. This stop was a bit different than the others, as this training session was for new OMEGA users. While the focus was primarily on scanning techniques and cranial remolding applications in the new software, the latest transtibial and transfemoral applications got some attention as well.

We dove into the cranial application in great detail. Thanks to Clint and Bianca for offering your children as practice patients!

4th Stop: The Royal Children’s Hospital of Melbourne, AU

Our first visit in Melbourne was to The Royal Children’s Hospital for a two-day training session on the new software and the OMEGA Scanner 3D for orthotic and prosthetic services. The staff was fantastic and we took turns rotating through different specialty groups. We covered topics from cranial, scoliosis, and AFOs to transtibial and transfemoral socket and custom liner applications. I had met many of these folks through online sessions, but it was great to finally meet them in person.

They routinely work with some amazing kids that are dealing with challenging orthopedic and medical situations. Straightforward cases are few and far between. Instead, these clinicians address some of the most complicated clinical challenges children can experience.

The hospital is still quite new, having opened just three years ago. The facility is more than impressive. Great detail was given to making this a welcoming and happy place. Not only is there a two-story aquarium, there’s also a meerkat exhibit!

5th & Final Stop: Masson’s & WillowWood OMEGA workshop in Melbourne, AU

The last official session was also held in Melbourne at a local hotel on June 3. This last session was a workshop for 10 people interested in OMEGA to get firsthand experience with the system. The day concluded with part of the group visiting Masson’s office nearby for a demonstration of the OMEGA Carver. It was a great way to conclude a fantastic training tour.

Thanks to everyone at Masson’s Healthcare for their support – especially Anton Karak for planning, organizing, and hosting. You are an amazing host and I hope to have the opportunity in the future to return your gracious hospitality. Please send more Tim Tams!

Over 30 clinicians were trained, spanning New Zealand to the East Coast of Australia. The trip involved over 22,000 flight miles, 10 flights, 7 airports (Sydney airport 4 times alone), 20 days traveling, over 48 hours of total flight time, and countless hotel rooms!Australia and New Zealand map

Summer Fun at Camp

April 14th, 2014 by WillowWood

The Amputee Coalition’s Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp is a five-day traditional summer camp experience for children ages 10-17 who have lost arms and/or legs or who were born with limb differences. The camp offers challenging activities that build campers’ confidence regardless of skill level and takes place at Camp JOY in Clarksville, Ohio.

Last year was my first year as camp coordinator and it was an amazing five days. The night before the campers arrived, a counselor told me that “what happens at camp stays with you forever.” She was right.

I watched as 87 campers tackled the ropes course and rock wall, went fishing, canoeing, enjoyed creative arts, played hours of “ga-ga,” had an incredible carnival night (hosted by about 50 WillowWood volunteers), and danced the night away. Simply put, we had an absolute blast!

While camp was certainly full of fun, I quickly learned that the Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp is also a very important camp. And thanks to wonderful camp sponsors like WillowWood, this camp changes lives. Campers inspired each other toward greater self-confidence, challenged each other to try new things, and shared common experiences with others that have faced similar situations. For some kids, this camp is the first or only place they are able to interact with other youth with limb loss. They leave camp with a support system of peers, with renewed confidence and friendships that last a lifetime.

We are currently gearing up for our 15th annual Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp in July and we are hoping to bring over 100 campers from across the country. This will be our largest camp ever. When I’m tempted to get lost in the administrative details and logistics, I simply look back at one of countless notes from campers and parents and am reminded of the big picture:

“My son’s life changed the moment we walked into the cafeteria filled with other campers.  I saw a look of hope on his face that I had never seen in my life. There in a room filled with complete strangers, Sawyer was more comfortable than anywhere this life has taken him. Here, for the first time in his life, he was like everyone else.” – Laryssa

 I can’t wait to hear how Camp 2014 impacts the lives of even more children and more families. It’s going to be another wonderful year.

Jessie Cantrell
Amputee Coalition
Youth Camp Coordinator

With the help of sponsors and donations, the Amputee Coalition covers all expenses, including travel, for every camper. For more information or to learn how you can be involved, please contact the Amputee Coalition: www.amputee-coalition.org/camp.

Happy Campers

Campers experience all the typical summer camp fun but also establish strong peer bonds.


Game of basketball

The Paddy Rossbach Youth Camp may be the first time some campers get to hang out with kids just like themselves.

On the ropes

Two ropes courses allow campers to push themselves to new heights of accomplishment!

Helping Amputees in a Simple Way

March 5th, 2013 by WillowWood

As a manufacturer of prosthetic products, we frequently receive calls and e-mails from either amputees themselves or from someone who has an amputee in their family about what they can do with old prostheses. The prostheses could be from young amputees who have outgrown them or could have been used by a loved one who has passed away. By donating a prosthesis, or even individual prosthetic products, you can help an amputee regain functionality, livelihood, and self-confidence.

What to donate
First, make sure a prosthesis is clean and in working order. If any part of it is broken, that component of the total prosthesis may not be useful to others. To clean components, wipe devices down with warm water or disinfecting wipes. Do not immerse in water and do not use soap. Obviously, any electronic devices should not be cleaned with water.

If you are donating a prosthetic device that utilizes electronics, be sure to include any chargers, instructions, or accessories with the donation. Sockets, and prosthetic products, such as liners or sleeves, that have been worn and were in direct contact with a person’s skin should not be donated. However, you may donate liners or sleeves that are unopened and have never been worn.

Where to donate
Once you have a prosthesis or individual prosthetic items cleaned and ready to donate, there are a few options of where you can donate. WillowWood regularly donates product to Limbs for Life and Physicians for Peace. Fortunately, these two outstanding humanitarian organizations also accept donations of used prostheses.

Limbs for Life is a global nonprofit organization that serves as a repository for donations of used prosthetic limbs. The prostheses are disassembled and components are sent to clinicians in the U.S. and third-world countries upon request for use in making prosthetic limbs for amputees who cannot afford a prosthesis. Limbs for Life also provides prosthetic care for individuals who cannot otherwise afford it and works to raise awareness of the challenges facing amputees.

Donors of used prosthetic limbs should include their name and contact information in the box before sealing. All donor information is kept strictly confidential by Limbs for Life unless the donor grants permission to release such information. All donor requests for anonymity will be honored, except to the extent that Limbs for Life Foundation is legally required to disclose the identity of donors.

Donations of prosthetic limbs should be shipped to: Limbs for Life Foundation, 218 E. Main Street, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73104. If you have questions or are a clinician interested in requesting donated components for pro bono patients, call 888.235.5462.

Physicians for Peace works in over 20 countries to provide patient care as well as training and support to heath care teams in under served regions. Medical programs include providing prosthetic care for individuals in countries such as Haiti, the Philippines, and Turkey, as well as the crafting of prosthetic limbs. Upon receiving donations of used prostheses, the Physicians for Peace team breaks down the prostheses into individual components, discarding the sockets. Then the items are shipped outside of the U.S. These donations serve two purposes: (1) training of local prosthetic care teams in making prostheses and (2) the rehabilitation of amputees.

“A donation of a limb not only helps an amputee walk again but the training that results is invaluable,” shared Kenneth Hudson, Gifts-In-Kind Manager of the organization’s Global Health Programs.  “It is our belief that as this program that we call “Walking Free” continues to grow the impact of the training that is taking place will be felt for many years to come.  Our goal is to empower the people that we are training to become trainers themselves.  Physicians for Peace lives by the old saying ‘that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a day but if teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime’.”

Donations of used prosthetic limbs to Physicians for Peace may either be shipped or taken to Hanger Clinics which will forward the donation onto Physicians for Peace and provide a donation receipt each donor. To ship donations of prosthetic limbs directly to the Physician for Peace warehouse via USPS, UPS, or FEDEX, please send to: Physicians for Peace, Attn: Kenneth Hudson, 2117 Springfield Avenue, Norfolk, VA 23523.

The Tangibles & Intangibles of Quality Patient Care

September 12th, 2012 by WillowWood

This month we welcome BOC as our guest blogger to highlight the human side of the prosthetist-patient relationship.

Since BOC is a credentialing organization, it may seem logical to conclude that BOC focuses solely on the tangible aspects of orthotics and prosthetics – like training, exams, and continuing education. Although all these things are important, the O&P professional also focuses on the intangibles of the profession. For Donald Dotter, BOCPO, those include long-term relationships and personal connections.

Donald decided to become an orthotist / prosthetist after completing a health care internship program at Antelope Valley Orthotics and Prosthetics (AVOP) during high school. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from California State University of Northridge, he earned BOC certification as an Orthotist / Prosthetist and returned to work at AVOP. He found that prosthetics in particular afforded him the opportunity to build long-term, even lifetime, relationships with his patients. He wanted to watch his patients grow and adapt to their prostheses; he wanted to witness the impact of technology in increasing their quality of life.

When asked what inspires him most about his work, Donald notes that he gets excited when he can help his patients do the things they were able to before their limb loss. It’s celebrating their small victories – returning to work, transferring themselves from bed to chair, or fixing breakfast for their kids in the morning – that get him excited to go to work in the morning.

And what’s the best way to help amputees see what they can do? For Donald, it’s connecting new amputees with others who have learned to adapt and function at a high level. Claudia Zacharias, MBA, CAE, BOC’s President and CEO, witnessed the value of this at the Amputee Coalition’s youth camp, where she volunteered the past two summers. “The most powerful experience is a shared experience. It was so inspiring to see amputees young and old learn from each other.”

BOC recognizes that both the tangibles and intangibles are crucial for providing quality patient care. For information on becoming a BOC-certified prosthetist, orthotist, pedorthist, orthotic fitter, or mastectomy fitter, visit the BOC website.

It's the small victories that his patients achieve that keep Donald (left) charged about his profession.

Thanks BOC for being our guest blogger! For more information about the organization, visit the BOC website.



Meet Stefanie Reid: Paralympian, World Traveler, & Master’s Student

February 16th, 2012 by WillowWood

Stefanie Reid

For the past couple years, WillowWood has had the pleasure of working with Stefanie Reid, an experienced Paralympic athlete. Stefanie competed at the Beijing, China, 2009 Paralympics in the long jump and the 200m, in which she won bronze. Stefanie’s schedule of college, training, media interviews, transcontinental travel, and some occasional gardening, keeps her quite busy.


Q: You’ll be competing in the long jump and the 200 m at London’s Paralympics. Aside from medaling, what are your personal goals for the Paralympics?

I will be competing in the 100m, 200m, and long jump in London.  Apart from the obvious, my personal goal for the Paralympics is to demonstrate courage and integrity every time I compete.  To compete at your best in an intense, high pressure situation, you have to be fearless.  I want to walk off that track knowing that I gave every last ounce of mental and physical ability.


Q: As part of Great Britain’s Paralympic team how exciting is it to compete for the “home team” in London?

It is an incredible opportunity to change the face of disability sports in Great Britain.  The interest and response from the public has been incredible, and I know it will result in an amazing legacy.  As a member of the home team, we have a unique opportunity to shine in our country that other athletes won’t experience…but with it comes unique pressures!


Q: You’ve been involved in several Paralympic promotional campaigns and media interviews in Britain. How’s it feel to see yourself in the spotlight? Did you ever anticipate this sort of publicity during your athletic career?

It is both incredibly cool and incredibly awkward to play back your interviews or see your campaign pictures!  It gives me a huge sense of encouragement to know that people are interested in what I am trying to achieve and that they think it is a worthwhile endeavor.  There are days when you feel on top of the world, but there are also days when you experience hardship or devastating losses in competitions, and think maybe the time away from family/financial struggles/ stress aren’t worth it.  But the people that have reached out to me as a result of some of the documentaries and interviews I have done remind me that there is incredible value in Paralympic sport and that it has been worth every hard choice I have made.  I never anticipated any of this – I ran simply because I loved it.  I am grateful for every interview request as it gives me a chance to share my passion with others.


Q: What components do you wear when you compete? You’re currently working on a new everyday prosthesis with your prosthetist. What do you wear when you’re not competing?

When I compete, I wear an Ossur Flex Foot Cheetah, a carbon fibre socket with a built in one-way suction valve, a WillowWood Alpha® Original Liner, and a suction sleeve.  The glamorous running feet tend to get all of the media attention!  But your socket is as important (if not more) as the foot you run on.  The socket is the interface between your body and your prosthesis – if it feels like a foreign object when you put it on, it is impossible to move well.  Ultimately, it is your choice of liner combined with your prosthetist’s finesse in socket casting that will determine how much you enjoy sports and other high impact activities.  I love my Alpha Liner as I am able to carry out an intense training regime across all climates without any skin breakdown.

When I am not competing, I wear a thinner version of the Alpha Original Liner, the WillowWood Trailblazer™ Foot, and a carbon fibre socket.  The Trailblazer foot is new to me.  I was having some problems with a stress fracture in my back and it was suggested that it may be precipitated by the way I walk.  So I worked with my prosthetist and made a new leg using the Trailblazer.  The result so far has been fantastic.  My favourite part is the ease with which my prosthetist could customize the toe springs.  We were able to match my walking stride perfectly on both legs, and as I improve and get stronger, my prosthetist can install a stiffer spring!


Q: How do you balance your training schedule with your academic work?

Fortunately, I spend lots of time traveling, so I try and get all of my work out of the way when I am sitting on planes.  But the truth is, it is very difficult and stressful, and being in a constant state of stress is extremely damaging for an athlete’s recovery.  I have taken a break for this semester as I didn’t feel I was able to give both my running and my studies 100%.  I will continue to pursue my Master’s in Nutrition after London 2012.


Q: What’s your advice for amputees who are looking to increase their level of physical activity, whether it is in regard to athletics or everyday living?

The first step is to ensure you are 100% comfortable and confident with your prosthetic leg.  I know from my own experience that the biggest motivational killer for amputees is being uncomfortable and in pain when doing an activity.  Next, grab a friend and start with something that is low impact: Pilates, yoga, swimming, biking, belly dancing – be creative.  And don’t forget about the friend part.  It can be intimidating for anyone to try something new, especially when you are an amputee and will inevitably stand out.  Taking a friend will reduce some of the anxiety and make it more fun. Finally, set a short-term fitness goal (2-3 months) with targets along the way.  Tell your friends and family about them, and celebrate each target you hit!


Q: With all the traveling that you do between the UK, South Africa where you’ve been training, and the US, you’ve become quite an expert on traveling with a prosthesis. Do you have any helpful tips to share that might interest other amputees?

1) Don’t be a hero – take all of the help that is offered to you at an airport.  And don’t be afraid to speak up if it is not offered.  Use a luggage trolley. Use the disabled golf cart.  Skip the hour-long customs line. If someone offers to carry your bag, let them.  You don’t realize just how far you walk or how much you stand when you travel, especially in airports.   Pulling luggage behind you and walking with a heavy knapsack for long distances is not conducive to proper walking technique.  It is best to save your back.  I can deadlift 225 lbs.  Despite that, I always try and avoid loading my luggage into cars.  But the combination of sitting for long periods, dealing with the awkward shape of my luggage, and the extra care required to get into the right lifting position when you have a fixed ankle joint mean I am not willing to risk a silly injury.

2) Take extra stump socks at a variety of thicknesses onto planes.  The difference in air pressure that you experience at different altitudes affects the fit of your socket.  My residual limb typically swells, and it can be quite uncomfortable to leave my prosthesis on when flying.  The real problem comes when you land, and you try to put your socket back on only to realize you can’t get your residual limb in!  My best advice is to take your socket off during flight if it gets uncomfortable, and wrap your residual limb in a tensor compression bandage to help control the swelling.  Then, when you put your socket back on you can adjust the fit with your extra stump socks until your residual limb returns to normal size.


Thanks so much Stefanie for chatting with us! We sincerely wish you the best of luck at the London 2012 Paralympics. The games begin August 29 and conclude on September 9, 2012. Be sure to keep an eye on Stefanie! You can follow Stefanie on Twitter at @RunJumpStefReid.


Going Strong with Vacuum Suspension

January 9th, 2012 by WillowWood

Amputees such as Richard Blalock, Scott Rigsby and Shea Taylor are trailblazers in the fields of marathons, Ironman competitions, and mixed martial arts respectively. These amputee athletes each incorporate LimbLogic® VS for vacuum suspension in their prostheses and work with clinicians from ProCare Prosthetics & Orthotics of Atlanta, Georgia, who think outside the box.

Having experienced an increase in amputees nationwide seeking out their expertise, ProCare and its team of clinicians are designing and crafting proprietary socket prostheses utilizing LimbLogic VS for athletes competing in marathons, world-level track-and-field events, Ironman competitions and more.

“We recognized early on that WillowWood had designed a superior electric vacuum pump for the market,” shares Stephen A. Schulte CP LP FAAOP, CEO of ProCare Prosthetics & Orthotics. “ProCare made a commitment to advancements in socket technology, specifically in elevated vacuum. This commitment has attracted a nationwide population of VERY active amputees who demand high performance technology. LimbLogic VS is a key component to the high performance prosthetics that we design.”

LimbLogic VS provides extremely reliable and secure vacuum suspension. Amputees, especially those who are athletic, benefit from LimbLogic VS because the prosthesis responds immediately to a change in activity. Or rather the amputee athlete can be confident in their foot position because the strong vacuum suspension keeps the prosthetic socket and foot exactly where they are supposed to be. Hence, amputees don’t have to think about foot placement as much and can focus more on their endeavors.

“LimbLogic VS has proven to be very reliable and durable,” comments Steve. ”WillowWood has succeeded with superior customer service, technology and design.”

We consider ourselves a partner with clinicians and we love to hear how WillowWood technology and products are used to help amputees. Thanks ProCare for sharing!

We’d love to hear about your success and achievements with LimbLogic VS. Post a comment here or drop us a note at customerservice@owwco.com.

ProCare Assessment LimbLogic VS
In ProCare’s research lab, Stephen A. Schulte assesses Scott Rigsby’s running legs, both which use LimbLogic VS, for prosthetic fit and gait analysis. For Richard Blalock to compete in the 2012 Boston Marathon, ProCare incorporated LimbLogic VS in his running prosthesis.