Thursday, October 30, 2008

Coming Nov. 8th: New Technology For Active Amputees

We are excited about "New Technology For Active Amputees," a 4 1/2-hour free seminar that we are hosting on Saturday, Nov. 8 at our Hickory Hills location.

The session starts at 8:30 a.m., lasts until 1 p.m. and includes a free boxed lunch.

Dr. Michael Pinzur, a renowned orthopedic surgeon at Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood, will discuss “Ground-Breaking Bone-Bridge Surgery,” the pros and cons of a controversial technique, called a “bone bridge.”

It is used to prepare the residual limb in below-the-knee amputations. In this technique, the amputated ends of the tibia (shin bone) and fibula are fused with a bone bridge.

Also speaking will be our very own Melissa Stockwell, a resident with Scheck & Siress and U.S. Army veteran who was the country's first female amputee from the Iraq War. She will share her "Road to the Paralympic Games,” which culminated with her being the flag bearer during the Paralympic Games Closing Ceremonies.

If you like sports or working out, this one's for you! To reserve a space, contact Emily Frederick at 773-606-9356.

Our facility in Hickory Hills is at 8641 95th St., in the Hill Creek Shopping Center. You can read more about the day at

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Melissa Stockwell Speaks at Book Kick-Off

On Thursday, Melissa Stockwell will be speaking at a kick-off party for a book on wounded veterans. A story posted at The Earth Times states the book, released by Praeger Security Press, is called Returning Wars' Wounded, Injured, and Ill: A Handbook.

"Proceeds from the book's first year of sales will be donated to The Wounded Warrior Disabled Sports Project to provide athletic activities towounded service members as part of their rehabilitation," the story states. " Their motto is `If Ican do this, I can do anything.'"

As anyone who has followed Melissa's journey knows, she perfectly embodies that motto.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Safe & Smooth: Proprio Foot Provides Boost To Amputees As They Walk

When we walk, 40 percent of the time our legs are swinging through the air. In those moments, an amputee—or anyone else, for that matter—is at risk of tripping.

Such a stumble can lead to a host of other problems, especially for amputees who may already face other health difficulties.

That is why Steve Thorstenson turned to Scheck & Siress for a prosthetic advancement called the Proprio Foot. At, the companion website to the Chicago Tribune, you can read a more in-depth profile about Steve and the role that we have been able to play in his journey.

Monday, October 20, 2008

About Range Of Motion Project (ROMP)

Two Scheck & Siress prosthetists, David Rotter and Dreher Jouett, have traveled to Guatemala to volunteer for the Range Of Motion Project (ROMP), so this is a timely point to touch on Scheck & Siress' support for the not-for-profit organization.

ROMP is dedicated to turning "disability into possibility" among amputees around the world.

In May, through the efforts of personnel like Eric Neufeld, a ROMP co-founder, we helped a 16-year-old from Nicargaua, Luis Torres, regain a measure of independence. (That's Eric and Luis in the photo above, outside our Bannockburn office.)

Among other video clips, you can see how Scheck & Siress is supporting the organization's resourceful re-purposing of prosthetic parts.

You can also witness Luis' remarkable speed in taking to his new prosthetic leg.

Burt Constable, a columnist at the Daily Herald, wrote a wonderful story about the role that ROMP, Scheck & Siress and others played to help Luis.

It's humbling to think that Luis is just one of many, many people, globally, who have benefited from ROMP as it pursues its vision of serving 100,000 people.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Melissa & Co. Conquer Chicago Marathon

Melissa Stockwell is on the move again--from the Paralympic Games in Beijing to Washington, D.C. for a reception at the White House and, this past Sunday, to the Chicago Marathon.

She traversed the 26.2-mile course in 2 hours, 8 minutes, using a handcrank to propel herself along. She completed the New York City Marathon in 2004 and 2005 on a handcrank as well.

"I enjoy seeing the city at a new level, seeing the crowds and crossing the finish line," says Melissa.

This year was especially rewarding because she was joined by Tammy Duckworth, with whom Melissa was at Walter Reed Hospital after both suffered injuries in the Iraq War, and another amputee friend, Alisha Middel.

"To all have finished and have our medals around our necks was awesome," says Melissa.

In the wheelchair category of the event, four women competed, including three who are patients at Scheck & Siress. Prosthetist David Rotter (pictured here with Melissa, Tammy and Alisha) has fit all three of those patients with their prostheses, and said he was proud of each one.

Congratulations to them, as well as to Melissa, Tammy and Alisha, for the excellent example they set for all of us!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Erica's Race: The News-Gazette Story

Reprinted from The News-Gazette
September 21, 2008
©2008 The News-Gazette, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Erica’s race
Bounce in her step
UI student thrilled to be active again after recovery from illness, amputations
URBANA — Erica Van Zuidam loves the feeling of a good workout that gets her heart pumping.

“It feels like how it used to be. My old life, in sports and everything,” she said. “I think that’s why it’s so fun. It brings back good times.”

On Saturday, Van Zuidam ran a 5-kilometer race — 3.1 miles in two laps around the University of Illinois campus, from the Illini Union to the Stock Pavilion. It was her first race on her carbon fiber legs with the zebra-striped cloth covering the top. Her first race since her feet and hands were amputated, the casualties of a nearly fatal case of bacterial meningitis she contracted at the end of her freshman year at the UI.

She believes she survived the disease because she was active and physically fit.
Saturday’s race was organized by the Kinesiology Student Association and held in honor of Van Zuidam, now a senior in kinesiology. It wasn’t just a chance for her to run and to promote an active lifestyle. It was also a chance to spread the word about bacterial meningitis and the vaccine that can protect against it. Included in the packet for runners was information about the disease.

Van Zuidam played volleyball in high school — her main sport — and she also ran the 800 during track season to keep in shape. She continued to be active at the UI, working out often for fun and to relieve stress.

But she contracted bacterial meningitis in May 2005, at the end of her freshman year. She was hospitalized for several months, then began therapy to learn to use prosthetic hands and to walk on prosthetic legs.

Through it all, she couldn’t wait to be active again. Even while learning to use her new legs, she knew she wanted running legs.

“I’m stubborn and I don’t like being told I can’t do something,” she said. “Even if I don’t run regularly, I don’t want to be told I don’t have the option.
“When I got my (regular prosthetic) legs, it was like, ‘All right, I want to move fast.’ That’s just who I am. I like to be going.”

She tried to run a few times with her regular prosthetics, but they aren’t made for running. She got the carbon fiber running legs in May 2007. Running in them was a rush.

Holy cow, my hair is moving fast again, she thought.

“I can’t really stand still when I’m in them. They’re really bouncy,” she said.
Even so, it took a lot of effort to run again. It’s particularly difficult in hot weather, because of how the prosthetics and liners fit her, so she often opts for swimming instead.

Mary Carlton, a UI professor of kinesiology and advisor for the Kinesiology Student Association, has come to know Van Zuidam well after teaching her in several classes.
“Erica has always been concerned about getting the word out about meningitis, and the idea that this is a disease you don’t have to get,” Carlton said. “This is one way to get Erica’s story out here, and she is one of our own and she’s a great kid.”

Van Zuidam acknowledged being nervous before the race. While she has long run to stay in shape, she’d never raced a 5K before.

She was cheered on by her parents, Tim and Janice. Younger sister Jamie, her boyfriend, and Dave Rotter, who works with Van Zuidam to fit her with her prostheses, all ran the race as well.

She ran better than she expected, completing the first mile without needing a break. She stopped twice during the race and removed her prosthetic legs, once to adjust the liners and another time for Jamie and a friend to massage a cramp out of her leg.

“She’s a fighter,” Rotter said of Van Zuidam. “She’s tough. She has a strong constitution.

“The key is not to have the mind-set of limitation, but of possibility.”
Van Zuidam said of Rotter: “He pretty much thinks I can do anything.”

Robert K. O’Daniell photos/The News-Gazette
Erica Van Zuidam starts running a 5K race put on by the Kinesiology Student Association on Saturday on the UI campus in Urbana. ALSO: Van Zuidam wore the No. 1 for the race, held in her honor.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

President Bush Honors Melissa Stockwell

In case you missed it, we wanted to pass along remarks made Tuesday by President Bush to members of the United States Olympic and Paralympic teams.

The full transcript of his talk on the South Lawn of the White House is here. Included in his comments is this excerpt, in which the president directly addresses our very own resident prosthetist, Melissa Stockwell:

"I'm particularly pleased to be here with those who have worn the uniform of our country. (Applause.) On the America team were 16 men and women who served the nation in uniform -- one of whom was Army Lieutenant Melissa Stockwell. She lost her leg while serving our country in Iraq. Four years after hard work, four years after significant rehabilitation, she qualified as a swimmer. And her teammates elected her as the flag bearer for the Closing Ceremonies.

We welcome you, Melissa, and we welcome you all."

During the event, Melissa presented President Bush with the American flag that flew over the Olympic Village in Beijing.