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Loma Linda University Medical Center’s Orthotics and Prosthetics Team Gives Brazilian Athlete Ability to Walk

Loma Linda, CA (PRWEB) July 11, 2013

Loma Linda University Medical Center’s orthotics and prosthetics team gave Brazilian athlete and 2016 Paralympic hopeful, Marinalva de Almeida, the ability to walk for the first time in over 15 years. The team, led by Michael Davidson and Murray Brandstater, MD, had Marinalva walking just three days after she arrived in Loma Linda.

“We were definitely in uncharted territory when Marinalva came to us,” said Davidson, who serves as the clinical manager for orthotics and prosthetics at LLUMC. “The evolution of the prosthetic from the design of the leg, to fitting it, to actually using it is a very thorough, detailed process that typically takes six to eight weeks. We made two legs, one for running and one for walking, in less than three days.”

Dr. Brandstater, who is the chair of physical medicine and rehabilitation at LLUMC, was the first specialist at the hospital to see Marinalva. He evaluated her and outlined her specific needs. “I recognized a young, athletic individual who was a good candidate for a prosthesis,” he said. “Upon her arrival, no one had anticipated anything more than just fitting her for a prosthetic. Although a challenge, Marinalva was able to return home with two new legs.”

Dr. Brandstater admits, however, everything came together because “Michael and his staff are talented and experienced; we had the support of his students and not only was Marinalva young and fit, but her residual limb was stable.”

Marinalva, who goes by Mary, admits she did not even expect to return to Brazil with a new leg. “I knew Loma Linda was the best in its class, but they exceeded my expectations,” she said. “The amount of commitment and respect I have gotten is incredible. I’ve been received with open arms, and the whole experience has been fantastic.”

Mary openly shared the story of the incident that forced her to walk with crutches for most of her life. When she was 15 years old, she was hit by a car while riding a motorcycle. Five days after the accident, her left leg was amputated. Now, the 35 year old admits she turned to sports in an effort to find herself. “I didn’t even start competing until about three years ago.”

Weight lifting, sailing, long-distance running, and long jump are just a few of the sports she has participated in—all on crutches. She even ran a half-marathon in May 2013 on crutches. She confessed she previously had a prosthetic, but it did not fit properly and was hard to maintain. “I felt most comfortable on my crutches.”

Now, Mary is looking forward to her new legs. Through a grant provided by Challenged Athlete Foundation (CAF), she has a new prosthetic running foot that is designed specifically to fit her needs. Mary also received a walking leg thanks to private and corporate sponsorships, including a donation from Loma Linda University PossAbilities.

“This was a very unique situation and we wanted to help with the cost of the expedited design and fabrication of Mary’s new prosthetic,” said Pedro Payne, PossAbilities manager, “We are looking forward to being a continued resource for Mary as she accelerates as a professional athlete.”

Mary is beyond appreciative of all that LLUMC has provided to her. “I never thought all of this would ever be possible.” But now Mary is making the transition from her crutches to walking full time. “It has been a challenge to walk, but I’m hoping to be running with more ease and comfort very soon.”

Davidson admits additional rehabilitation would be optimal for Mary, but is confident of his work and of his patient. “I knew when we met her that she had the potential to go through this rapid and challenging process successfully. She has drive and determination unlike anyone I have ever met, and her transition has been unprecedented.”

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