My name is Karl. I lost my left leg to bone cancer 29 years ago at age 23. I spent one year in hospital with amputation, chemotherapy and several operations related to complications with an infection in the stump.
Many improvements I have had with prosthetic technology and living as an above knee amputee have been inspired by contacts with fellow amputees. Some things I wish someone had shown me 20 years earlier. That’s the reason why I started ampulife.com, a purely private website: I want to inform, inspire and encourage. And I want fellow amputees, family members and prosthetic professionals to contribute by commenting on my articles.
What matters most for an amputee in terms of quality of life is this, I believe:
1. A positive attitude towards your body and yourself. Family can help a lot with that!
2. Physical fitness! Walking on a prosthesis requires an extraordinary amount of energy. Therefore, when you want to live a “normal” life, you need to compensate with extraordinary physical fitness.
3. The body – prosthesis interface, also known as socket. To my experience, that depends first and foremost on the expertise and commitment of your prosthetist. Not the company, not even the particular socket technology, whether it’s a “XYZ”-type of socket or whatever, but the commitment your prosthetist is willing to invest into your socket fit. It’s socket shape that matters most. And that is very individual and never standardized! See the page on my own socket fit, and what it took to get there!
4. For an above knee amputee, the choice of prosthetic knee. There are many different models available, and not every model will help every above knee amputee. In other words, there is no “best” prosthetic knee. It depends on your requirements, and the function which a particular prosthetic knee provides. My page on how I compare a selection of prosthetic knees should give you an idea of what matters to me in terms of function. The knee which I am having now, the Very Good Knee – Short Transfemoral, is specifically designed for above knee amputees with short stumps (as well as hip disarticulation amputees). I had a certain role in the development of that prosthetic knee. In fact, the engineer who had developed the traditional VGK (Very Good Knee) got inspired by my particular needs because I have a quite short above knee amputation stump and my dilemma was that I had to choose between acceptable weight for me OR advanced functionality. The Very Good Knee – Short Transfemoral gives me both, and that has been another major improvement for my quality of life. As a result of my contact with the company who manufactures the Very Good Knee, Orthomobility Ltd., I had temporarily taken over sales management for Germany and Austria, in addition to my job as an IT manager.
5. The choice of prosthetic foot matters as much as the choice of prosthetic knee! I sometimes wonder when above knee amputees talk about their prosthesis and mention the particular model of prosthetic knee (particularly if it is a MPK microprocessor prosthetic knee), but not their foot. There is even more variety in terms of prosthetic feet than with prosthetic knees, and there is a reason for that: No prosthetic foot can replace all functions of a natural foot equally well. For example, you have to decide whether maximum energy return or being able to wear shoes with different heel height is more important to you. You can’t have both. In other words, there is not “best” prosthetic foot. It depends on your personal needs and preferences.