Road Trip to Socket Bliss
WillowWood’s guest blogger this month is Kevin Bidwell, CP, BOCO, of Precision Orthotics & Prosthetics in Las Vegas. Thank you Kevin for sharing your experiences with the WillowWood One System as both a user and a clinician!
Hi, my name is Kevin Bidwell. I am an active left transfemoral amputee of 25 years. I was involved in a Motorcycle accident at the age of 19 that quickly led to a long left transfemoral amputation. Like many young and healthy new amputees, I was fit with a standard suction socket. It worked fairly well, and at a young age, I pretty much overcame everything.
I adapted to life with a prosthesis and went back to college two months after the accident. As a mechanical and crafty type of guy, I was soon tearing apart my knee and making a few of my own adjustments. At that time, it was such a surprise to me that my prosthetist, Dennis Luse, CP, somehow knew that I had made some of my own alignment adjustments. I felt I had done a fine job of aligning myself. Now that I think back, I can only imagine how bad I must have looked walking back into his prosthetic clinic after one of my self-adjustments. However, all that self-alignment trouble I caused got me into the prosthetics lab. Once I was introduced to where all the action took place, I was hooked. Wanting to improve my own life as well as the lives of others, I geared my education towards prosthetics and soon became a certified prosthetist.
Always in search of the “Best Fit”, I have tried about everything. I started in a fairly round brimmed suction socket, and I eventually ended up in a very contoured anatomically-designed ischial containment suction socket. This socket has served me very well for a very long time. Like any socket system, it has its drawbacks. I have tried many liner systems in search of some sort of socket euphoria, but never seemed to find it. I always seemed to go back to my suction socket system as I felt greater control with that system. It was not until I was introduced to the WillowWood One System that I felt I had found a suspension system that could provide much greater comfort, much better suspension, and just as much control over my prosthesis.
The Search is Over
In June of 2015, I was fortunate enough to have WillowWood clinician Andy Marsland travel to Las Vegas and teach the WillowWood One System at our facility. I was one of the patient models and was a little skeptical at first. As mentioned, I am like most amputees, a creature of habit, a habitual limb abuser, going back to the same system that beat me up a little before…like a love-hate relationship. That suction socket would treat me right for quite a while and then beat me up with a vengeance. I must say, I have been in the WillowWood One System for the past five months since that course and have not gone back to my old system. I love this system. I can work in my yard in 110 degree heat and not sweat out of my socket. I can ride my bicycle and not have to wear a belt in case I lose suction. My limb does not look beat up after a long day of running back and forth between the hospital and facilities. I can go hiking in the heat and not have to take my leg off and drain out all the perspiration.
Sharing the Love
As a prosthetist who found success fitting himself, I immediately began fitting many of my patients with this system. The patients I have fit have had many similar positive outcomes just as I found with myself. Greater comfort, more consistent suspension, an ability to do more, less perspiration, and the ability to wear the prosthesis all day long, are typical reports by my patients. I have improved my skills at fitting this socket system after numerous fittings. So as you would expect, I fabricated another socket for myself. Well, not the final socket, the test socket. Once the final fitting was complete, I packed it up along with my very cool designed T-shirt for the outer layer and shipped it off to WillowWood for fabrication. Chris, supervisor of WillowWood’s custom solutions team, took good care of it.
It just so happened that my wife and I had a trip planned in the fall that ended in Ohio. So, we recently found ourselves at WillowWood in Mt. Sterling, Ohio, at the end of a two week journey across the Northeast and Midwest. That drive was probably one of the most comfortable road trips that I have had in a long time. The typical socket brim pressure experienced after sitting in a car for long time did not come about with my WillowWood One System Socket.
I was so glad to be able to stop by and pick up my new ride (a.k.a. socket) at WillowWood on my way out of Ohio. I loved my first One System, but I love my newest socket system even more. On this trip I gave my WillowWood One System a work out. I walked all over Washington D.C., and New York City. I rambled around Vermont and Niagara Falls, and I traversed all over Ohio. It was a comfortable ride.
I just wanted to say thanks to all of the friendly and knowledgeable staff at WillowWood for showing me around the facility and fabricating my cool new socket. I am about to try this system out on my patient who I like to refer to as my “prosthetic nemesis”. I will let you know how it goes.