Amputation & Limb Deficiency: Patient Stories - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

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Amputation & Limb Deficiency: Patient Stories

Zac Vawter's Story

Software Engineer, Age 32, Seattle, WA

RIC patient Zac VawterZac Vawter, father of two, was on his way home from work riding his motorcycle in rural Washington State when he spun, landed, and skidded with the bike on top of him. At the hospital, doctors ultimately couldn’t save his leg, and it was amputated above the knee.

As a software engineer, Zac always had an interest in technology, so no one was surprised when he registered himself as a research subject with RIC’s Center for Bionic Medicine where he could help test a prosthetic leg that's controlled by his thoughts.

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Amanda Kitts' Story

The Bionic Mom

Amanda Kitts

As the owner of three day care centers in Knoxville, Tennessee, 40-year-old Amanda Kitts loves nothing more than hugging the children she cares for. “These kids are my life,” she said. “They fill my heart with love.”

In April 2006, hugging those children or her 9-year-old son, Casey, became impossible when Kitts’ left arm was amputated above the elbow after her small Mercedes sports car was run over by a monster truck. She was devastated and afraid of how she would return to her role in the day care centers.

“It killed me thinking I may never be able to hug Casey and the children again,” she said.

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Sgt. Glen Lehman's Story

US Army, Age 35, Jersey Shore, PA

RIC patient Glen LehmanUS Army Sergeant Glen Lehman was on a routine patrol just outside of Baghdad in 2009 when his tank was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) that seared a hole into the side of the tank. The blast ripped through Glen himself, causing several flesh wounds and burns and, worse, ripping his right arm off. His medic attended to him to stabilize him and he was transferred back to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC.

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Paul Moran's Story

A true champion

Paul Moran's Patient Story

Sitting in his specially designed wheelchair in the Olympic Stadium in Sydney, Australia, Paul Moran looked around at the spectacle of the opening ceremony of the 2000 Paralympic Games and thought to himself, “What a long, strange trip it’s been.”

It was a trip that had started on that exact same day 15 years earlier when Moran had been crushed beneath the wheels of a Boston trolley car in a freak accident. Extracted an hour later, the 18-year-old Boston College freshman had nearly died on the operating table while several teams of surgeons worked frantically to repair his severely injured body.

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Greta Neimanas' Story

The Ride of Her Life

Greta Neimanas

Greta Neimanas’ eyes were as big as saucers as she watched the cyclists zipping around the slanted, bowl-like wooden track at speeds exceeding 40 miles per hour at the 2004 Paralympic Games in Athens, Greece. It was that moment that the then 16-year-old Chicago native was hooked. “This is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” she thought. “I’ve got to try it!”          

Neimanas’ first shot at competitive cycling proved that she was an ace. Now, she will be representing the U.S. at this summer’s Paralympic Games in Beijing in September. With a big smile and bring-it-on attitude, Neimanas has been tackling new challenges all her life.

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