A Patriotic Addition

Jason of Stuttgart Arkansas gives his new prosthesis a big thumbs up!

Jason suffered for months with a bad fitting prosthesis and a foot that didn't match his active lifestyle. We changed that today. He stated that walking on his new device was as different as going from an Oldsmobile to a Ferrari. 

His patriotic theme makes it even better! 


Outrageously Beautiful - Amy Purdy Owns the Red Carpet

As an actress, model, world-class snowboarder and 2014 Paralympic bronze medalist, Amy Purdy is an inspiration to young women everywhere.

And last night, the 34-year-old motivational speaker broke down the boundaries even further by hitting the red carpet in a mini dress proudly baring her prosthetic legs.

Pure, unaltered beauty and grace.  We love Amy's story and her ability to conquer anything she sets her mind to!


Our Newest Location

We are excited to announce the opening of our 7th store in Hot Springs, Arkansas! We are ready to serve the Garland County area and are elated at the opportunity to serve more of the south.  

Founded more than 30 years ago in Pine Bluff by the Galster family, our mission has always been to aid people in the transition from being disabled to being able bodied.  

"Seeing someone come in who has recently lost the use of a limb due to an amputation and working with them to return them to where they can walk or work again, well, it just makes coming to work a joy," say Gabe Galster, the company's CEO.  "Many people may not realize it, but a few years ago my dad was actually climbing down a ladder at home and fell and his injury was so significant that he lost part of his leg.  So we aren't just owners here, our family is also a client.  We want the best for dad, just like we want the best for every person who comes through our door."  

Be sure to visit us at our newest location in Hot Springs! Check out our other locations and stay in touch

 

I Got This!

Kayden Kinckle, a 2-year-old from Englewood, New Jersey was born with Omphalocele, a birth defect of the abdominal wall that eventually let to two abdominal surgeries.  Kayden also had his right food and left leg amputated in January.  We watched this video of Kayden taking his first steps - and we couldn't believe what we saw! 

Saying the words, "I got this, I got this!" over and over again, Kayden takes his first steps with his new prosthetics.  With each step, he becomes more confident and determined.  With a little help from his mom, Kayden has not only inspired our office, but he has inspired a nation. 

We are inspired daily by this type of attitude in each of our patients and strive to stand beside you as you achieve things that most people believe to be impossible. 

Standing Upright Again

William Richardson came to our Pine Bluff facility several years ago as a left above knee amputee. He made the effort at that time to master his AK prosthesis and he was able to lead a productive life. This drive and determination is what encouraged our clinic in helping him again when he suffered an above knee amputation on his other side this year. He is starting his training and conditioning in a set of custom made "stubbies" today. They allow him to "work out" all of his walking muscles and increase his endurance. They allow us to access how he is advancing to see if he will be able to transition into normal height prostheses with functional knees and feet. William says he is grateful that he can finally stand upright again. He says he feels like a man again and doesn't want to sit down. All smiles!

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Leonard Is Walking!

Leonard standing and taking steps.

Leonard standing and taking steps.

Leonard started with us as a unilateral above knee amputee. After 9 years the vascular disease that took his left leg eventually took his right. He was told that he would never stand or walk again and had to fight to find a physician who would sign a prescription for him to receive new prosthetics. Well I am happy to say that not only did Leonard stand today but he also took his first steps in his new legs.

The Ride (continued)

From our KOA campsite in Alamosa we explored the local area. Of course the Sand Dunes Park should not be missed but we were looking for more Alpine rides. Each of our riders had varying motorcycle experiences but in a way very similar. We had all been involved since early childhood on a wild assortment of bikes. My first was an Allstate (Sears) 1962 Moped followed by a Cushman and then the early Hondas. Greg Martin had similar bikes during the 1970's and brought up Timothy to appreciate the classics from the birth of Japanese motorbikes in America. Andy Wilson owns several bikes and learned to ride in the Oil Country of South Arkansas. Grant Youngblood grew up near a junkyard and made his own bikes from wrecked and discarded parts. It's no wonder he is a whizz at repair and alteration.

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Andy is driving a Kawasaki KLX 650 which is a more stripped down cousin to the KLR. He wanted to ride more aggressive trails to test his bike. The rest of us were content to try and keep from falling off the mountains.
The second day we made an extended highway trip over to the old mining village of Creede. The town is literally wedged into the mountains. It is very quaint and many of the nineteenth century building are still standing.

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As the only municipality of Mineral County the locals have struggled to save some of the old mines in the area. So we headed through town and started climbing. This is where the Kawasaki KLR shows off. We drove about 50 miles of highway driving at 60 to 75 mph and then took to the rocky, rutted trails typical of mining country.

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So far things were going pretty well as an amputee. I had rigged my prosthesis so that it was attached with silicone sleeves up above my thigh and it was well attached so that I could depend on it being there, but if snagged during a hairy wreck I wanted it to detach immediately. The more I road the better I could sense where the foot pegs were on the right side. We call this proprioception; the mind's ability to adapt and sense where a body part is in space without looking at the limb. Being a right side amputee is a blessing since the gear shifting takes place with the foot of the left side on most bikes, but a curse when trying to depress the rear brake pedal on the right side. Grant was ahead of me here and his bike kicked out a stone the size of a softball and caught my front wheel while I was maneuvering through a rut. I grabbed my hand brake in the excitement and lost control for a second or two. Everyone had a laugh courtesy of the peg legged guy. I picked a sadistic group to travel with.
Lesson: stretch out the distance between riders when single-tracking.
Lesson: do not grab the hand brake when on gravel or loose footing.

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We visited several abandoned mines including Last Chance Mine. A fellow named Theodore Renniger was down on his luck back in the 1880's. He borrowed a $25 grubstake and three burros from local businessmen. The next day he worked his way up through extremely rugged country from Creede and bad luck struck again as his burros ran off in a storm. When he found them he was so exhausted that he decided to dig right there. Long story short, he hit an amethyst vein which became a motherload silver mine. It produced hundreds of millions of dollars until about 70 years ago. It has now been reopened as a source of minerals from the diggings. Several of the old building have been restored and there is a small museum. You can stay in some of the miner's shacks overnight if you call ahead. call Jack at tel:719-238-7959. Kewl place.

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The Ride

My ride plans had changed unexpectedly over the past two years. For one thing I had to find out how much endurance I could muster as an amputee who was coming up quickly on the 60 year mark. But the other motivation was to follow through with a promise I made to a friend last year. Grant had discovered that he had a malignant tumor causing a tremendous amount of pain in one of his kidneys. At one point when we knew nothing about his prognosis, in a fog of pain, he asked, "If I live through this will you make an off-road motorcycle trip with me to Colorado?"

At the time I was on crutches and the trip I had envisioned was on the back burner, but I agreed just to ease his mind and shut him up. So you can guess what happened. He lived...and I had to follow through with a promise.

Picture from the trip

Picture from the trip

Together we decided that the KLR would be a good fit for both of us. It was cheap, tough and weighed 275 pounds less than my old bike. We rigged the motorcycles to carry a lot of gear so that we could explore the wilds of Colorado.

Beautiful Colorado

Beautiful Colorado

My home-made seat turned out nicely. The original seat  had been like riding on a crosstie. The new seat felt like a crosstie with a little foam shaped around it to cradle an old fellows butt. As the time neared we piled tons of stuff together and joined with three other friends for the trip out west. We planed to explore many of the trails cutting through the Rockies and test our riding capabilities at high altitudes. We had enough gear and food to start a small country and it took us two days to reach our first ride. Of course we stopped at every Walmart between Little Rock and Alamosa, Colorado .

Working on Andy's bike

Working on Andy's bike

When you buy old bikes you have to be prepared to fix them while on the road. Grant was our McGiver character. We spent hours reshaping a front wheel on Andy's Kawasaki KLX 650. Then we had to take the engine apart on Timothy Martin's KLR in order to fix the shifting lever return spring. Later in the day we rode over to the Great Sand Dunes National Park for a look-see. Wow! The biggest cat-box I've ever seen with very helpful park rangers. Since this was an impromptu ride we had left most of our gear behind and had to endure a piercing rain storm on the way back to our camp. Following this storm was one of the most vivid rainbows I have ever seen.

Vivid rainbow.

Vivid rainbow.

Adaptation

Adaptation is what I teach and provide as a medical professional and this is what I had to do now. So a few weeks ago I found an older used Kawasaki KLR 650 that needed some TLC. The previous owner had been a short fellow and he butchered the seat so that he could ride more easily. I had to strip the foam and create a knew seat which would be comfortable for a tall guy like me.

Adapting the seat to fit Mike. 

Adapting the seat to fit Mike. 

My Baby. My Journey.

This was my baby. A 2005 BMW 1150 Adventure. She was going to carry me to the Arctic circle by way of Alaska. It was my major form of travel and I had started early preparations for the trip when I had my accident. For a year I couldn't use the bike at all. After my amputation I could drive it easily but I couldn't push it in an off-road situation. It broke my heart. -Mike Galster

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Taking Your Work Home

Mike Galster on a motorcycle ride.

Mike Galster on a motorcycle ride.

For almost forty years I have worked with disabled people all around the world. From the Delta of Arkansas and Mississippi, to the leprosy centers of Korea, or the jungles of Nicaragua, I have attempted to return damaged people to an active life. I am a Board Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist. I have been educated in the sciences and have amassed thousands of clinical experiences during these years to the point that I felt confident that I knew all I needed to know about being an amputee or orthotic wearer...I was wrong.

In April of 2011 I suffered a fall from a collapsed ladder onto concrete. I destroyed my ankle and heel. A friend and fine orthopedic surgeon put me back together with lots of hardware and fancy screws. I made myself a series of unique braces to hold the repairs together, but after a year things were going quickly downhill. I couldn't walk without crutches and the pain was so bad I could only wear a wool sock on my foot. My lifestyle had taken a nose-dive as well. I am normally extremely active as a pilot, dive instructor, motorcyclist, hunter and fisherman, but now the injury had sidelined me.

For years, as part of my profession, I was asked to council with patients who were facing an amputation or a life of constant disability. In many cases I would encourage them to look at modern prosthetics as a positive alternative for their rehabilitation situation. Now I was forced to take my own medicine. I could park my butt in a wheelchair, increase the number of Martinis during the day and hang up all of my sporting equipment or do something else.

So there I was. It was April of 2012. I was not the person I had been a year before. I listened to several surgeons who I respect. I talked to my family and loved ones who's lives would also be affected and finally made the decision to become a below-knee (trams tibial) amputee. After all these years of taking care of amputees I was now joining their ranks. How ironic.

The pathos and technicalities surrounding this year of decision is something that I am working to describe in a booklet for others in similar situations. I will not go into that now as that is not the purpose of this blog, but unfortunately it is something that thousands face everyday.

It has now been over a year since my first prosthesis was fitted. Since I had to go through this experience I decided from the onset to be one of the most difficult patients possible. This has delighted my sons and the other staff of our clinics. More on that later. As the year progressed I have pushed to try to return to my old lifestyle. It has required some adaptation and a good sense of humor. It has also required that you have loved ones who will support you when you are demanding and have lost that good sense of humor. I love and appreciate you more than you know.

So....the purpose of this blog? It will be to carry you along with me as I attempt to regain my former lifestyle, in hopes that this will encourage others trapped in physically limiting situations.

 -Mike Galster