Hanger Clinic in Duluth Helps Amputees Regain Independence

By KBJR News 1

June 6, 2013 Updated Jun 6, 2013 at 7:04 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - For devoted mother Jessica Carlson, life couldn't afford to slow down even after the loss of her legs from the knees down, and all 10 of her fingers.

"Going somewhere, doing something, [I] have appointments still. I still see all my doctors," said Carlson as she watched a fellow amputee try out her newest pair of shoes.

Carlson says she used to frequent the Hanger Clinic for prosthetic adjustments and physical therapy, but—through perseverance and a positive attitude—she's made life with prosthetics just another daily routine, like morning coffee.

"I can't live without my coffee, though," laughed Carlson.

For Carlson, and fellow prosthetics user–turned–friend Shari Gunderson--neither of whom could go into detail over what resulted in the loss of all four limbs--independence in their daily lives is something they say they'll never take for granted.

"And then this last February I bought myself a vehicle and I've been driving since—which is a huge part of independence," said Carlson, as she listed her steps toward independence.

"Right now we're working on the lot where my house is going to be built. I got to throw wood, which I used to do—I used to cut wood for a living," recalled Gunderson, smiling.

For Prosthetist Jim L'Allier, it's clients like Gunderson and Carlson that make his job worth while.

"When I'm in front of these people, and they have to pick their attitude every morning—pick the right one—go off into the world and conquer every day, it makes it pretty easy to come to work," said L'Allier as he walked through the new clinic.

Gunderson, on the other hand, gives great credit to the efforts of caregivers like L'Allier.

"They've given me my feet—I can move, I can go. I can run like everybody says, 'Shari's a runner.' I mean, I'm OK with everything and how it happened... but God, to be able to just walk out the door and go outside—it's so huge," said an emotional Gunderson.

...turning perseverance into independence.

On June 20th Hanger Clinic will host a prosthetic education clinic open free of charge to all amputees.

Special guests will include the world renowned prosthetist Kevin Carroll, who co–developed the world's first prosthetic tail for dolphins.

- Posted to the Web by Billy Wagness