SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - South Plainfield High School students involved in robotics and those in Robert White’s co-op, finance and careers classes recently attended a special program where they learned about different types of prosthetic limbs.
Presented by prosthetist Cory Ayer who runs the Edison-based Edge HomeCare Prosthetics and Orthotics and Mykell Gossinger, an above-the-knee amputee, the program provided the students with an opportunity to see, first hand, the different types of prosthetics used for those who have lost a leg, foot, hand or arm.
Ayer passed around several types of the prosthetics being used today and discussed how they are designed. He also explained the different materials used to make them and explained the differences between polycentric and robotic microprocessor prosthetics.
Gossinger, who lost his left just below the hip after being broadsided while riding his Harley in a November 2013 accident, discussed and demonstrated how the robotic microprocessor leg he was fitted with two months ago allows him to walk faster, bend his leg better and go up and down stairs easier. The leg, which costs approximately $40,000, is equipped with hydraulics to provide friction as opposed to the polycentric leg he originally had that offered no resistance.
“With the polycentric leg, I couldn’t walk 500 feet without getting tired or breaking a sweat. Now, I can walk steadier and faster and use a lot less energy,” said Gossinger, adding that he never gave walking much thought prior to losing his leg. “You don’t think about it when you’re walking but it takes over 300 muscles just to stand up and you’re body is constantly working not to fall.”
Prior to the accident, Gossinger was an avid biker who loved to play golf, ski and ice skate, among other things. In addition to losing his left leg, the accident also left Gossinger with injuries to his right leg and shoulder. He underwent seven surgeries in the three months following the accident and currently still goes for physical therapy three days a week but explained to the students how he managed to maintain a positive attitude.
“I was never depressed and while there is some stuff I will never be able to do again, those days are gone. No big deal. I learned to change my lifestyle and adjust. I know that no matter how bad it may seem there is always someone who may be worse off than me,” Gossinger told the students, reminding them that jobs in robotics designing prosthetics such as the one he relies on, along with physical and occupational therapy, are so important.
“If you can help one person out by making them feel better or designing something that makes all the difference in their life that small contribution can go a long way,” he said. “It’s the little things you can do to make a huge difference in someone’s life.”