This page is about the amazing world of prosthetics. There was once a time when an amputee had little choice in what they wore, a wooden peg leg was cutting edge back in its time, but today the choices are endless. From computer- controlled devices to carbon fiber, technology has worked it’s was into prosthetics and the results are nothing less than remarkable!
Mark Lichtle’s unflagging determination has allowed him to discover many types of prosthetic ankles, each one allowing him to regain more of the mobility that he lost when his leg was amputated. From swim ankles, to snowboarding ankles to running blades, they all serve a unique purpose.
Our natural ankles have the ability to automatically adjust to the many different terrains and environments we encounter. That is not so with prosthetics. Mark has several different ankles that help him regain his natural abilities depending on his needs. When scuba diving he uses a swim foot that allows him the ability to lock the ankle in one of two positions, either 90 degrees for walking, or in a pointed toe position for swimming. Now he enjoys scuba diving like he did before, and having the ability to walk on the swim foot is just a great bonus.
When snowboarding Mark uses a hydraulic ankle which allows him the freedom to move his knee out over his foot and keep it there. This was a significant discovery and a crucial component in Mark’s success as a snowboarder. Prior efforts had disastrous results when using standard prosthetic ankles and nearly ended Mark’s quest to return to snowboarding. Now he can exceed his ability to snowboard before his amputation.
Quick connecting parts allow Mark to easily change from one prosthetic ankle to another in just a matter of seconds, enabling him to be proficient in several sports. Prior to riding his hydrofoil Mark simply unscrews a nylon pin and puts on his ski ankle. “When snowboarding I can exchange my walking ankle for my snowboarding ankle before anyone else knows what happened” he says. What makes a quick connect component special is that you use the same prosthetic socket that you’re comfortable with. You’re only changing out the ankle. “If I didn’t have this quick connector as an option, I’d have to spend up to an hour disconnecting one ankle and attaching another. Then I’d spend another hour switching it back when I was done with whatever activity I was doing. It’s amazing how simple it is and how well it works” he says.
What’s Mark’s advice for other amputees? “First, never give up, and don’t take no for an answer. There are so many choices of prosthetics out there that it’s mind boggling. Finding the right one may take some effort on your part, but the rewards can mean the difference between a life of pain versus a life of pleasure”.
If your doctor or prosthetist isn’t giving you options then you need to move on. Nobody knows everything and that holds true for doctors. Relief can be just around the corner, but you’ll never know if you don’t step outside or keep pressing to get the prosthetic you need.
Mark also recommends getting comfortable working on your own equipment. “Being able to adjust my own prosthetics gives me the advantage of getting immediate feedback, good or bad. I’ve found on many occasions that a minor adjustment can have profound results. Don’t be afraid to experiment” he says.
In the video link below, Mark describes in detail each of his prosthetics and how each one helps him achieve success.