Thursday, October 2, 2014

Prosthetics career is a chance to give back

Orthotic technician Ashleigh Bentz works in the prosthetics shop at CoxHealth’s new Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics in Springfield. Bentz has had a prosthetic foot her whole life and the care and support she received led to her career choice. When she heard CoxHealth was opening the center, she says she knew immediately that she wanted to be on the team. 

Ashleigh Bentz has a unique relationship with the new CoxHealth Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics. “It was what I was born to do, you could say,” she laughs. That’s because Ashleigh, an orthotic technician at the center, became an amputee at the age of two. 

“I was born with three toes and no fibula bone and a degenerative bone disease,” she says. “My mother was given the option to have my foot removed at a young age or to wait and later in life have it amputated above the knee.” 

“It’s one of those things, you play the hand you’re dealt, but you learn to deal with it.” Growing up, Ashleigh says having only one foot was just a normal part of life. She recalls with a laugh how when her sister wanted to play, she’d bring Ashleigh’s foot to her. She has a sense of humor about her prosthetic, too: “Yeah, I had a lot of fun with substitute teachers.” 

Now, she has a new prosthetic, made at the Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics. “People get new ones because of wear and weight change. With mine, it was just time for a new one,” says Ashleigh. “The leg I have is pretty simple. I’m just missing my foot.” 

Ashleigh’s lower leg slides into a socket that connects to a carbon foot, ordered from an outside vendor. As an orthotic tech, she helped make the socket that covers her leg and attaches to her new foot. 

As an orthotic technician and amputee, Ashleigh is excited to relate to her patients. 

“When I was in Shriners Hospital, I saw what it meant to help someone. Through the relationships I built there, I knew this was for me. When I found out that CoxHealth was opening up a new facility, I just knew I needed to be here. CoxHealth has given me the opportunity to do what I wanted to and I couldn’t be more excited to help people the way that I was helped.” 

As a child, Ashleigh benefited from the services of the Shriners Hospital, but once out of its care she soon missed the integrated system where the prosthetist can talk to the physical therapist under the same roof. 

“Coming back to this area there really wasn’t a model like that, so with the new center for prosthetics and orthotics, it’s going to be nice for people to come to one place, an integrated system.” 

When you talk to Fred Lerche, administrative director of outpatient rehab services and prosthetics and orthotics, and Chris Cobb, clinic manager, the excitement about the type of service CoxHealth can provide for amputee patients is contagious. 

“We will have an integrated physical therapy department, allowing therapists and prosthetists to work closely together for maximal patient outcomes and satisfaction,” says Chris. “It’s a true team approach that benefits the patient. For example, adjustments to prosthetic devices can be made in real time during a patient’s therapy visit, eliminating the need to schedule another appointment with the prosthetist.” 

The Center for Prosthetics and Orthotics has on its staff certified prosthetists and orthotists, pedorthists, orthotic fitters, experienced fabrication technicians and physical therapists. 

“It’s fantastic,” says Ashleigh. “It’s one of those things where there’s not a model like it here in town. You’re able to get a new leg, then go right across the building and have physical therapy training and even an adjustment. The prosthetist can talk to the physical therapist, no one is missing a step and your care is in the best hands because they’re communicating in the same facility. You’re good to go.”

Oct 2, 2014 open house
The new CoxHealth Center for Prosthetics & Orthotics is having its open house tonight, Oct. 2, from 4-8 p.m. All are invited to attend. Join us for interactive tours, including demonstrations and special guest Whitney Harris, product champion for the Ossur Power Knee. The center is located at 2224 West Sunset, just off Kansas Expressway. Food and drink will be provided. Call 269-INFO or 730-2000 for more information.