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Prosthetic Technology Puts Amputee Back on the Run

Premier Prosthetist Orthotist Carey Bunch (right) measures a new running blade prosthetic device against the standard walking prosthetic worn daily by amputee Michael Spence. With the new prosthetic, Spence plans to run in area races including the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure and will be able to add running to his exercise regimen.

Premier Prosthetist Orthotist Carey Bunch (right) measures a new running blade prosthetic device against the standard walking prosthetic worn daily by amputee Michael Spence. With the new prosthetic, Spence plans to run in area races including the Susan G. Koman Race for the Cure and will be able to add running to his exercise regimen.

A motorcycle accident left Michael Spence with a severed leg in 2006. This year, he will run in the Knoxville Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K – his first run since the accident.

Technology is incredible. In prosthetics, technology allows us to restore mobility and vitality to a person who has lost a limb. We can reduce limitations to the point that the only limits are those that patients put on themselves. Michael doesn’t accept limitation.

Before his accident, running was part Michael’s exercise regimen. He ran to keep in shape and to support nonprofits in local events like Buddy’s Race Against Cancer. When he lost his leg, he gave up running. The prosthetic he uses daily gives him great mobility, but is not suitable for distance running.

Amputee Michael Spence tests his new running prosthetic outside Premier Prosthetic Center. The device was designed for Spence by Prosthetist Orthotist Carey Bunch with components donated by Amputee Blade Runners, a nonprofit focused on helping amputees regain the ability to run.

Amputee Michael Spence tests his new running prosthetic outside Premier Prosthetic Center. The device was designed for Spence by Prosthetist Orthotist Carey Bunch with components donated by Amputee Blade Runners, a nonprofit focused on helping amputees regain the ability to run.

He has recently found, however, that as he ages it is more difficult to keep in shape without the ability to run. He wanted to get back into the sport, not only to get back in shape, but to be ready for the new baby he and his wife are expecting.

“It will be hard to teach my son how to ride a bike if I can’t run alongside,” he said.

However, Michael had two concerns: He thought that he had lost too much leg to be fitted for a running prosthetic, and he was concerned about cost. While most insurance will cover the cost of a prosthetic limb, a specialized device deemed not medically necessary is not always covered.

I was able to help Michael on both issues. First we connected him with Amputee Blade Runners, a nonprofit company that provides components free of charge to qualifying individuals who commit to putting them to good use. Then we went to work designing and building a device that would work for him.

Michael is truly a can-do guy. He made a personal commitment to ramp up his training and run three races a year. The same day as the fitting, he was up and running, doing a timed trial to monitor his improvement in the days leading up to his first race.

Staying is shape is important. Exercise combined with a healthy diet is the best way to avoid obesity, one of the biggest health problems in America today. If someone has the desire to exercise and is willing to put in the work with a prosthetic device, I am determined to help them achieve that goal. At Premier Prosthetic Center, I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to create solutions that help people live life to the fullest.

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