6 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Limb Loss

6 Ways to Help Your Child Cope with Limb Loss

Ask any parent and they will tell you that raising a child is one of the most rewarding things they’ve ever had the pleasure to experience. Although it’s a “job” that’s filled with sleepless nights, eternal stress, busy schedules, constant ferrying to sports- or friends-related activities and cleaning up endless messes, it’s something that they wouldn’t trade for the world.

A parent’s love for their child is immeasurable, and finding out that their kid is ill, gets diagnosed with a disability or needs to undergo life-changing surgery can be their worst nightmare. However, for the sake of their children, parents somehow find the strength to move forward and be there for their child. This is especially true in the case of children who have suffered through a life-saving amputation.

Anya - lower extremity prosthetics.png


As if growing up wasn’t challenging enough, a child who has lost a limb is facing a much larger obstacle in life. Sending your child off to school or any extracurricular activities they want to be part of can be terrifying – and even overwhelming – for both you and your child. There’s so much to think about:

  • Will they be able to keep up with their peers?
  • Are they more prone to injury?
  • How will this affect their self esteem?
  • How will they be treated by other kids?

Helping your child cope with the loss of a limb, both inside and outside of school, is an important factor in the overall healing process. Here are some ways you can help not only your child but also yourself:

1.   Prepare Yourself and Your Child: Regardless of one’s age, losing a limb is a radical life adjustment, not only for the amputee but also for the people around him/her. Along with the emotional and mental acclimation, the physical adjustment of learning how to use, care for and maneuver a prosthetic requires a wealth of patience and support.

As a parent, the best thing you can do for yourself and your child is to get ready for the long road that’s ahead of them while remembering that although there will be challenges, life isn’t over. Remember: Positivity is key and you’re a role model for the attitude they’ll take regarding their situation. The more positive and happy you are, the more your child will be, as well.

2.   Know that Education is Key: Educating yourself, your family and your child about the impact of undergoing an amputation is a very important factor in the overall goal of helping you and your child cope with their limb loss.

  • Practice putting on and removing the prosthesis so it becomes a natural act for your child
  • Get detailed instructions from your prosthetist about how to care for the device
  • Get your child used to walking on various terrains, getting in and out of the car, taking public transportation, etc. so they’ll feel more comfortable doing it on their own eventually
  • If your child is in school or daycare, talk openly with the principal, teacher and school nurse about your child’s condition and any special attention they may require....
  • ....but also highlight the need for normalcy and that they should not be treated any differently than the other students. Separating rather than including them in common activities will only hurt them.

3.   Have a frank discussion with your child about expecting varied reactions from kids and adults alike: Unfortunately, bullying is something that occurs far too often – even to children without any disabilities – despite a school’s greatest efforts to squander it and the social awareness being brought to this behavior in recent times. Though we hope and pray our children never experience that type of torment, it’s something that’s out of a parent’s control.

Teach your child the best ways to deal with the questions, stares or negativity that might come from other people.

  • Words/communication are usually more effective than using your fists
  • Many people react poorly out of fear – embolden your child to be ready to talk about what happened to them, why they have a prosthesis and how it works
  • Remember – and remind your child – that most children can show exorbitant amounts of compassion and kindness
  • Emphasize that no matter what, they are special, strong and forever loved by their family and friends
  • Tell them that being different is not a liability, but rather a chance to stand out
Madalyn - above the knee prosthesis.png


4.   Encourage your child to talk about their thoughts and feelings: Many adults – having the best intentions – downplay or ignore a disability in an effort to take the focus elsewhere and/or as a way to give encouragement. Allowing your kid to be open about what they’re feeling provides the opportunity to address their fears and find ways to conquer them.

  • Be honest about what the child can expect due to their situation and what challenges they may face
  • Stress that while you’ll do everything you can to help them live as normal a life as possible, most of what they can – and cannot – do will be up to them
  • Help them find a physical and/or emotional outlet as another way to release frustration (painting, writing in a journal, taking a kickboxing class, meditating, etc.)
  • Remind them that there will always be someone they can talk to – you, another family member, a school official, a professional – about any thoughts, feelings or questions they have about their situation

5.   Establish a Support System: Constantly showing support throughout your child’s journey with the loss of a limb is absolutely crucial. Additionally, there are several support groups that you and your child can join, such as the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA) or the Association of Children’s Prosthetic-Orthotic Clinics (ACPOC) or through a local group on the Raleigh area. Parents can also invest in a variety of children’s story and coloring books to help your child better understand limb loss. Sometimes, just knowing that they (and you) are not alone and being able to interact with others going through a similar experience is the best medicine for self-acceptance and confidence.

6.   Remember to Take Care of Yourself, Too: Your reactions and attitude will set the tone for this entire situation; therefore, make sure you take the time to take care of yourself. Whether it is talking to a professional, educating yourself more on your child’s situation, or finding solace with a spouse or family member/friend, find something that will bring you the strength needed to help your child through this time.



At Beacon Prosthetics & Orthotics, our entire staff is committed to helping patients achieve comfort and mobility and live a life without limitations. We stay on top of advancements in technology and have a wide range of prosthetics to ensure we're providing you with the best device for your needs. Read more about us and our staff, and contact us at any of our 3 locations to make an appointment or ask a question.

While having a child with an amputated limb is never a desirable situation, keep in mind that children are astonishingly resilient and adaptable....just because your child has a disability, it doesn’t mean that they are forever disabled. What might seem like the end of the world to you may end up being nothing but a blip on their radar after time. With time, they will flourish.


Matt's Dive

Matt's Dive

Every so often we have the opportunity to join our patients as they go out into the world and prove that limb loss and/or mobility impairment doesn't have to keep you from achieving your goals.

Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Today and everyday we are thankful to our Veterans Day who have served our Nation. We are honored to have the opportunity to serve the needs of our injured and amputee Veterans every day.

LCD rally and public meeting photos

LCD rally and public meeting photos

On August 26 we joined patients, prosthetists, physical therapists, physicians and advocates from around the country to stand up against the proposed lower limb prosthetic LCD policy.

OPAF Wheelchair Tennis Clinics

OPAF Wheelchair Tennis Clinics


Check out the OPAF Wheelchair Tennis Clinics being offered this month! Clinics will feature - Karen Korb, Paralympic athlete - Dan James, USTA National Wheelchair head coach - Frank Adams, Wheelchair coach

Morning sessions for teaching pros therapists. Afternoon sessions for clinic participants.

2015 Wheelchair Tennis Clinics

Beacon's Eddie White receives certification for new WillowWood One System

Beacon's Eddie White receives certification for new WillowWood One System


On Monday April 20, 2015, our owner, Eddie White, became certified in the WillowWood One System. This new technology offers a transfemoral solution for vacuum suspension. Eddie and Bill show off the WillowWood one system during the certification course on April 20, 2015.


According to the company,

"The WillowWood One System provides a consistently secure, comfortable and straightforward vacuum solution for transfemoral amputees with no hoses, sleeves, or extra bulk required. The WillowWood One System was initiated through a grant from the Veterans Administration that covered 26 months of development and testing and included over 40 clinical test patients of various activity levels. The purpose of the grant was to a develop a new socket system for transfemoral amputees that was comfortable, controlled pistoning, reduced sweating, allowed for a comfortable walking gait, and monitored and responded to activity levels of the wearer. The resulting system meets all these criteria while remaining easy to don and doff and providing unparalleled comfort and security. During clinical testing, amputees repeatedly commented that they could put the system on at the start of their day and no longer needed to adjust their sockets repeatedly throughout their day. The second overwhelmingly reported feedback was that the airtight seal of the system did not break. Amputees could comfortably move (transition from sitting to standing, walk, run, ride a bicycle or motorcycle) with maintained vacuum, and did not experience any movement of the socket."

Learn more about the WillowWood One system at http://www.willowwoodco.com/products-and-services/elevated-vacuum/willowwood-one-system


April is Limb Loss Awareness Month

April is Limb Loss Awareness Month


April is Limb Loss Awareness Month!

The Amputee Coalition has a campaign called "Show your Mettle" to celebrate limb loss and limb difference patients around the world. To show our support, we are holding a contest during the month of April.

Share your story on our website, post your photos on our Facebook page, or send in your photos to awhite@beaconpo.com showing your Mettle or Metal (in reference to your prosthesis) and you will be entered in a drawing for a Best Buy gift certificate. 

A drawing will be held on Monday, May 4. We look forward to seeing your SHOW YOUR METTLE photos.

Beacon Poster Project

Beacon Poster Project

At Beacon we love our patients, and we are honored to serve the prosthetic and orthotic needs of our patients. We work hard to make sure that our patients are able to get the most out of their lives through mobility.

Deadlines Approach for Grant Opportunities

Deadlines Approach for Grant Opportunities


2014-11-22 08.51.17 am The 2015 Challenged Athletes Foundation grant applications are due on December 5. Over the years we have had many patients receive the CAF grant for adaptive sporting devices ranging from basketball wheelchairs to running legs. The following link will take you to the application instructions for the CAF grant. http://www.challengedathletes.org/site/c.4nJHJQPqEiKUE/b.8325463/k.AF50/Grant_Application.htm

If you have any questions about the grant process or need any help with your applications please let us know.

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The Winter Adventure Amputee Camp applications are due Nov. 30. The camp accepts youth ages 10-16 that have an interest in learning to, or improving on, skiing or snowboarding and is held in Wintergreen Virginia Sunday, January 4 through Tuesday, January 6. http://www.adventureamputeecamp.org/pdf_files/Winter%20Camp%20QA%202015.pdf



Walk, Run and Roll with Veterans 5K

Walk, Run and Roll with Veterans 5K


Beacon Prosthetics and Orthotics was proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the NCSU Student Veterans Association Walk, Run and Roll with Veterans 5K. Beacon patients and staff came out to support Canine Angels, a great foundation that helps train service dogs for veterans. Team Beacon before the 5K.

Faith and Shay before the 5K

Barbara stretches before the 5K.



Team Beacon prepares for the 5K.

Team Beacon shows off the team shirts.

Team Beacon!

Audrey, Faith and Lisa right before the 5K.

Audrey rides a hand cycle in the 5K.

Barbara and Shay walking the 5K.

Eddie and Karen walk the 5K.


Karen and Eddie jog (briefly) during the 5K ;)

Eric, Karen and Eddie cross the finish line.

Eddie donates to the Canine Angels.


Eric donates to a Canine Angel.

Team Beacon hangs after the 5K.

Faith and Lisa cross the finish line.

Faith and Lisa donate to Canine Angels.

Ashlie donates to a Canine Angel.

Ashlie and Eddie accept a Silver Sponsor plaque for Beacon P&O.

Silver Sponsors

Audrey, Eddie and Steve.



NC AAOP Annual Golf Tournament

NC AAOP Annual Golf Tournament


Every year our practitioners play in a tournament with prosthetists and orthotists from around the state during the North Carolina/South Carolina annual meeting. This year Eddie White, John Shelton, Jordan Adkins and Brian Gold represented Beacon P&O on the course. Team Beacon didn't win the tournament, but they sure had a blast playing. [soliloquy id="493"]

RAKA and Straight Drive (you know, a car?)

RAKA and Straight Drive (you know, a car?)


Post by Steve Guess, of Cary, NC

June 2013, 45 years as a Right-Above-Knee-Amputee

CAUTION: Driving straight drive may not be safe, or appropriate, for every above-knee amputee. Don’t drive a straight drive vehicle on public roads unless you’ve passed a DMV driving examination.

I reentered the civilian world from Walter Reed Army Hospital as a right, above-knee amputee on October 16, 1969.  Almost a year later, I needed to have my driver’s license renewed and, because “everyone knows an above-knee amputee can’t drive a stick shift”, I told the examiner that I could only drive automatic transmission, so that restriction was placed on my driver’s license.

Fast forward 25 years, one sweetheart of a wife, a 16 year old daughter and a 12 year old son. We’d bought our daughter a one-owner, red, straight stick VW Cabriolet convertible that needed some dead paint polished out. The first weekend with the car, I was left to take care of the paint while my family had other things going on. After a lengthy struggle with the polishing pad, I remembered that my father-in-law had a buffer. My in-laws lived nearby, but a little further than I cared to walk, so I stood back and talked to myself (it’s okay, no one was looking):

Okay, what are the issues for me driving straight drive . . . I can use my left foot for either the clutch or the brake, but not both at one time, and my right foot’s going to be of no help with either (except for my first car, I’ve had the gas pedal on the right, controlled by my prosthetic leg) so . . . the “Cab” has a hand brake. When I need to brake, I can use the foot brake ‘till I’m close to needing to press the clutch, I apply the clutch, shift into neutral, foot off the clutch and resume braking ‘till I come to a stop. Then I fully engage the hand brake. Starting off is the easiest – press the clutch, shift into first, give the car a little gas, ease out on the clutch to the “friction point,” and ease off on the hand brake at the same time, more gas, less clutch and I’m on my way shifting normally.

I drove over to my in-laws house, as if I knew what I was doing, to find out they didn’t have a buffer after all. I needed my license renewed later that year and I wanted to remove the automatic transmission restriction. I drove with my daughter in her Cabriolet to the license office (I had to have someone with me who could have lawfully driven me over). After passing the written and eye tests, I told the examiner that I wanted the automatic restriction removed. She asked why I had the restriction and I told her. She said we’d need to take a driving test. We did, I passed, the restriction was removed, and I was on the road again.


Healthcare and O&P: Fair Insurance Access

Healthcare and O&P: Fair Insurance Access


photo The Amputee Coalition continues to work on the Federal "Fair Insurance for Amputees Act" (formerly the Prosthetic and Orthotic Parity Act).  A bill has been introduced in House (H.R. 3020), and is pending reintroduction in the Senate.  The Amputee Coalition is working to build relationships with new members and are approaching past supporters to urge them to support fair insurance access and independence for the limb loss community.

Additionally, State efforts are being supported by the North Carolina Orthotics and Prosthetics Trade Association (NCOPTA) and a bill has been drafted. NCOPTA, along with help from the Amputee Coalition plans to seek a sponsor for The North Carolina Insurance Fairness for Amputees Act in 2014. Considering the current climate surrounding healthcare both at the Federal and State levels, it will be difficult to get new healthcare legislation introduced but there is no better time than now to get this issue in the spotlight.

Arms and Legs are not a luxury and prosthetic care should be covered on par with all other major medical expenses, such as hip and knee replacement surgeries.

For more information about how you can Share your voice and help make a difference for the limb loss and limb difference community visit Amputee-Coalition.com or the Advocacy page at www.Beaconpo.com.

Tips for Improving Gait for Transfemoral Amputees from a Physical Therapist and Licensed Prosthetist

Tips for Improving Gait for Transfemoral Amputees from a Physical Therapist and Licensed Prosthetist


0455131 Gait for an amputee with a transfemoral amputation can be complex.  It is the result of a number of factors including socket fit and comfort, alignment,  muscle strength, and joint range of motion, just to name a few.   However, ensuring that your new prosthetic client develops good habits does not have to be complicated.  First, take note of your client’s step width.  The width of walking base should be between two and four inches.   Transfemoral amputees tend to place their sound side limb directly underneath them and bear more weight through it than the amputated side.  So, be sure to also encourage them to move their sound side away from the midline slightly as they move their amputated limb towards the midline.  This will result in more natural, evenly distributed weight bearing through the lower extremities.

Next, check your client’s step length.  Their steps should be symmetrical.  A normal step length is at least 12 inches from the toe of the trailing foot to the heel of leading foot during double limb stance.  In many cases, the new prosthetic client will overreach with their prosthetic side and take a much shorter step with the sound limb.  This can be due to a number of factors, including a lack of trust in the prosthesis or weakness in the hip musculature.   Sometimes just cueing the patient to lead with their sound limb can help with this habit.   However, instructing the client to take a shorter prosthetic step and spending more time on the prosthetic limb will improve their symmetry.  Spending more time on the prosthetic limb will allow them to take a longer sound side step.

As always, ensure that your patient’s upper body posture is erect and at midline to complete the process and avoid compensations.  Monitoring these two basic gait parameters can help your client with the goal of smooth and natural ambulation.

Working together makes a difference. 

Beacon PO and Ossur recently hosted an all-day physical therapy seminar at its Raleigh office. The seminar, taught by Licensed Prosthetist and Physical Therapist Chris Doerger allowed our practitioners and 16 physical therapists from around the State to come together to better understand how to best serve our patients.

photo copy 3

At Beacon, we value the team approach and understand the importance of communicating with other healthcare providers to ensure the best outcomes for our patients.

The seminar covered three key areas of practice: Outcome Measures and Limb Loss, Mechanical Knees and Feet and Bionics for Physical Therapists.

The event was a huge success and we want to thank the therapists and patients who came out to participate. We plan to hold a similar event in 2014.

For more information about educational opportunities please visit www.BEACONPO.com.

A Q&A with Beacon Practitioner  Brian Gold, MSPO, CP

A Q&A with Beacon Practitioner Brian Gold, MSPO, CP


2014-10-10 11.05.49 am Q: How did you find out about Prosthetics and Orthotics as a profession?

A: I found out about the O&P field through a friend in Asheville who worked at an O&P lab.  I spent time shadowing and doing technical work in the lab then had the opportunity to go to Guatemala and Belize to work for non-profit prosthetic organizations.

Q: What do you like most about being a practitioner?

A: I enjoy being a practitioner because it gives me an opportunity to have a positive impact on people's lives each day.

Q: How have you grown and changed as a practitioner over the past few years?

A: An area where I have grown and changed as a practitioner is in my ability to connect with patients and quickly identify areas where I can improve their independence and quality of life.

Q: How much has the profession changed over the past few years?

A: The profession has changed dramatically over the past few years.  The industry is just now catching up in terms of utilizing the technology that is available. This new technology is exciting because now we have so many options and can choose Prosthetic and Orthotic devices which suit each individual’s needs.

Q: What technological advances in the profession excite you the most?


A: The advances which excite me the most are those in myoelectrics and microprocessor controlled components as well as materials and fitting techniques.  These advances have helped us to make all of our devices more functional, lifelike and comfortable for our patients.

Q: Tell me about one of your favorite accomplishments as a practitioner?

A: One of my favorite accomplishments as a practitioner was being able to play a part in fitting one of our patient’s with a shoulder disarticulation prosthesis which he used for mountain biking. This device allowed him to take part in an activity that he had always enjoyed before his amputation. That experience was extremely rewarding for me and I will never forget it.  Each day I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to make a real difference and provide people with improved mobility and a sense of independence.

Out In The Yard With Steve Guess

Out In The Yard With Steve Guess


Steve Guess, Right-Above-Knee-Amputee since 1969, has a few things figured out.

Steve Guess is spreading mulch, trimming shrubs, mowing his lawn and preparing new flower beds, things that many amputees would consider challenges. For Steve, working in the yard is one of the many things that he considers part of his normal life. Unless he is wearing shorts most people wouldn’t know he is missing his right leg. His determination to live a normal life has driven him to figure out ways to do the things some people thought he might not be able to do. Steve Guess is an example of someone who doesn’t let his disability stand in the way of doing the things he loves to do most. He even managed to get the automatic restriction taken off of his driver’s license, despite the general assumption that an above-knee amputee cannot drive a stick shift. Steve, a Veteran of the Vietnam War, is also an advocate for the limb loss and limb difference community. He wrote Congresswoman Renee Ellmers requesting her support of the Injured and Amputee Veterans Bill of Rights, a bill she ultimately introduced in the House of Representatives and has since gained numerous co-sponsors. Read Steve’s blog post at beaconpo.com

Beacon Outreach - Guatemala

Beacon Outreach - Guatemala


Guatemalan ChildOn January 3rd Brent Wright and Eddie White of Beacon Prosthetics and Orthotics traveled to the Peten Region of Guatemala to work in a prosthetic clinic at Hospital Shalom. The region is vast, comprising nearly 45% of Guatemala’s total landmass. The population in the Peten is nearly one million and it is the poorest of Guatemala’s seven regions. Samaritan’s Purse sponsored the trip, shipping over 10,000 dollars worth of prosthetic components down for the clinic in Hospital Shalom. Mr. Wright collected donations from his patients in Wilson and from other practices around the Country. Components from donated prostheses are used in the construction of new prostheses for the patients in Guatemala.

Upon their arrival Brent and Eddie, with the help of Bill Wright, a missionary with Samaritan’s Purse and the father of Brent Wright, renovated the open-air prosthetics lab behind the main hospital that Brent and his father built one year prior. They stocked the lab with the donated materials and began a long week of seeing patients.

Guatemala026Because there are no prosthetist in the Peten Region, there are many people who have never had an opportunity to receive prostheses after their amputations. The demand is high and people travel from the farthest parts of the region to come to the clinic.

While at Hospital Shalom, Brent and Eddie evaluated 14 patients. They were able to cast and measure eight transfemoral (above-the-knee) amputees, two transtibial (below-the-knee) amputees, and a hip disarticulation patient. The two prosthetists with the help of a local technician and Bill Wright were able to fabricate, fit and deliver eight prostheses. “Essentially we did a months worth of work in eight days,” said Brent Wright.

“It’s something about their determination, their spirit, that makes you want to work harder, said Eddie White.” “There is definitely a greater sense of urgency because we only have five days to do the work and we want to help as many people as we possibly can, he said.”

Beacon Prosthetics and Orthotics owner and prosthetist Eddie White has always believed in giving back, but this was the first time he had ever worked in a prosthetics clinic abroad. “This experience changed my life, said Mr. White.”

Hospital Shalom