Leading the Hudson Valley and Catskill Region
in O&P Patient Care

Patient Stories - Steve

  • NAME: Steven Hansell
  • AGE: 56
  • LOCATION: Shokan, NY
  • FAMILY: Wife, Jane, daughters Elizabeth (22) and Sarah (27)
  • OCCUPATION: Software engineer
  • CLINIC: Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates, Inc., Kingston, NY
  • PRODUCT: Below-knee/transtibial prosthesis
  • CLINICIAN: Justin Horowitz, CPO

Case History

It was 38 years ago that a then-18-year-old Steven Hansell was riding his 10-speed bicycle from Rochester to Niagara Falls when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver. The accident cost him his left leg below the knee.

Steven’s doctor recommended certified prosthetist and orthotist, Justin Horowitz, and Justin has continued to work with Steven since that time.

“Steve jokingly refers to me as his ‘mechanic’ and because of his deep knowledge of engineering and experience with a range of prostheses over the years, it’s an appropriate analogy,” said Justin.

"The Catalyst foot is the best device I’ve tried"

In his professional life, Steve is a software engineer and computer technician. His education in computer and electrical engineering as well as his more than 30 years working with technology have equipped Steve with thorough interest in, and understanding of, the mechanics of prosthetic technology. This, plus the close relationship that he and his prosthetist have developed over the years, means the two can work together to exploit the latest and greatest technology and work together to fine tune the best system for Steve and his very active lifestyle.

“Unlike other patients who present with medical conditions that may affect their range of motion, general health and activity level, Steve is an amputee with general good health who has been using various prosthetic technologies for over 35 years to support his active lifestyle,” said Justin. “He was an active youth before his amputation and has remained so throughout his adulthood, thanks to the advancements in prosthetic technologies over the years.”

“As a child, I skied and during my recovery from my accident, my rehabilitation therapist raised the idea of picking it up again,” said Steve. “I excelled and became a competitive snow-ski racer in my twenties, eventually becoming a certified ski instructor for both able-bodied and disabled skiers. My prosthesis enabled me to ski with either one leg or two, the latter allowing me to avoid the constant questioning about my leg. So seamless was my use of the prosthesis that the judge who gave me my certification didn’t even know about my amputation until after I’d passed the accreditation. I was the first person on the east coast to be certified with a prosthesis.”

In addition to skiing, he has continued to participate in recreational and competitive sports including running, cycling (both road and mountain biking), hockey and speed skating..

Steve worked with his prosthetist to consider and select the right components 800-593-9318 inquiry@poaprosthetics.com www.POAprosthetics.com that suit his lifestyle. He prefers dynamic components that have flexibility in the ankle and pylon, the rod between the residual limb and the ankle joint that ties the two pieces together.

His current endoskeletal below-knee prosthesis consists of a silicone-based Ossur cushion liner, which rolls onto his limb like a second skin within the socket that affixes to Steve’s residual limb, and a TruLife Catalyst foot.

“The gel liner has improved comfort by 10 times,” says Steve.

“Because of the available range of motion with the Catalyst,” said Justin, “it is an excellent all-terrain, accommodative and adaptive foot.”

“The Catalyst foot is the best device I’ve tried,” says Steve.

He may also use a waist-belt to assure that the leg is stabilized during high-impact sports. Otherwise, he uses an external suspension sleeve.

“The advancements in technology over the years have greatly improved my quality of life and enabled me to continue participating in the many sports that I enjoy,” said Steve. “I liken the first prosthetic devices I had many years ago to nailing metal wheels to a board to use as a skateboard. Modern prosthetic devices are like the carbon-fiber custom skateboards with rubber wheels that are available now. The difference between my early legs and the one I have now is just that stark.”

About Prosthetic &
Orthotic Associates

For over 20 years, Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates (POA) has provided prosthetic and orthotic rehabilitation to residents of the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain region, in addition to patients from around the world, who are in need of the company’s unique combination of functional and aesthetic prosthetic restoration.

Thomas Passero, CP, formed POA in 1989 in Middletown, New York, where it opened its first clinic and where the company’s headquarters remain. Currently, the company has clinical offices in Middletown, Monticello, Kingston and Poughkeepsie and is anticipating opening clinics in Albany and NYC in 2011. Operated by American Board Certified staff with over 100 years of combined experience, POA’s clinical team offers comprehensive services in the complete spectrum of prosthetic rehabilitation.

As an empowered patient of Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates, Steve enjoys the active role he plays in the discovery and utilization of the latest prosthetic technology.

“I would often research the Internet and magazines for amputees, searching out newer technology when a new leg was needed,” said Steve. “A benefit of working with an experienced certified prosthetist such as Justin is that he and his team are always very knowledgeable about what is available and what will meet the demands of my level of activity and weight.

“POA is not content to just sit back when it comes to patient care. Instead, they’re always pushing for how they can do something better for the patient. Over the years, I’ve been involved in product testing to give feedback on devices, had my care plan assessed by other experts through POA’s own certification upgrades, seen the prosthetic build process so that I could comment from an engineering standpoint where improvements could be made, and attended information sessions about new technologies. As an amputee and as an engineer, the fact that POA is on the bleeding edge of new prosthetic technologies is very compelling for me.”

Justin Horowitz, CPO, a graduate of Cerritos College and University of Wisconsin, has been providing patient care in the Hudson Valley since 1985.