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Amputee Gold Medalist Urges Encourages Others to Keep Climbing Higher

Christa Brelsford takes the loss of her right leg in stride. The 34-year old Oak Ridge scientist’s leg was crushed during a massive Haiti earthquake in 2010. She was in Haiti working on a literacy project with her brother.  She has a practical attitude towards the injury and subsequent amputation.

 “I was very lucky,” explains Christa. “Two-hundred and fifty thousand people were killed in the earthquake and I wasn’t dead. I wanted to do whatever I needed to do to be healthy, happy, and survive.”

Christa not only survived, she has thrived with her prosthesis. Taking inspiration from amputee Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius, Christa quickly resumed rock climbing, a sport she had loved since childhood.She began competitive rock climbing and in 2014 won gold in the women’s amputee leg category at the International Federation of Sport Climbing World Para climbing Championship in Spain.

In 2017 Christa and her husband relocated from New Mexico to Oak Ridge, where she is a scientist at the national lab. The mother of two continues to be active, hiking and snowboarding. This spring she met Prosthetist Jason Hayden of the Premier Surgical Prosthetic Center in Knoxville at an adaptive sports event. Jason  worked with Christa recently to build a newer prosthetic leg that better fits her high activity level. “Jason is great. I had been talking about shopping for a new prosthesis when I met him.”

Christa takes a practical approach to her own prosthesis and often talks frankly with others facing limb amputation. 

“This isn’t something I chose, but it is reality,” she states. “Having a prosthesis is way less work than having a damaged limb. Getting rid of a limb that doesn’t work will let you spend more time living your life.”

 For more information about the prosthetic process or afree consultation, contact the Premier Surgical Prosthetic Center in Knoxville at (865) 474-7096 or click here to request an appointment online. 

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