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Sports Blade Gets Amputee Athlete Mom Back in Action

Christa Brelsford is pounding the pavement of her Oak Ridge neighborhood. The mother of three has adjusted easily to her new prosthetic running blade, but after 12 years of disuse, building up her muscle systems to run safely has taken more grit than any of Christa’s previous athletic endeavors.

“It’s taken me 8 months to get up to 3 miles,” Christa smiles. “I’m really enjoying the fact that I can run faster and with more fluidity than I have in 12 years.”

Christa and Premier Prosthetist Jason Hayden

The 37-year-old ORNL scientist lost her left leg after being crushed during a massive earthquake in Haiti in 2010. Christa took the amputation in stride and stayed active. She excelled in competitive rock climbing and won gold in the 2014 International Federation of Sport Climbing World Para Climbing Championship in Spain.

In recent years, the challenge of balancing parenthood, a full-time job, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have sidelined most athletic activity for Christa. Now, she’s excited to be running and exercising again thanks to a new running leg from Amputee Blade Runners.

Amputee Blade Runners (ABR) is a charity that provides free prosthetic sports legs to amputee athletes. Prosthetic running legs are very expensive and not typically covered by insurance.  Since 2011, Nashville-based ABR has provided athletic blades and training for about 100 people a year across the United States.

A team from ABR traveled to the Premier Prosthetic Center in Knoxville to work with Christa and fabricate her sports leg.

Premier Prosthetic Center Prosthetist Jason Hayden says being fitted with a sports blade requires takes lot of commitment and determination. “Like with any prosthesis, getting a good fit is a process. It takes time to fine-tune. We check, look for improvements, measure, and adjust.”

He says the amputee athletes have to pace themselves. “Patients say: “I used to run 10 miles a day.’  We tell them not to over-train. You have to let your body and muscles slowly adjust to running with the sports leg.”

Christa has embraced the process and is grateful for the running leg from ABR. She now enjoys the feel of it so much that she has been wearing it for everyday activities. “I spend most of my life chasing small children. It’s been nice to have a bouncier, smoother leg.”

If you would like to donate to Amputee Blade Runners or apply for a running leg, visit https://amputeebladerunners.com/.

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