Bombing survivor outfitted for high-tech prosthetic

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August 29, 2013, 6:23 pm
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(NECN: Greg Wayland) - The toes, the skin color, the tone, the contour -- who could tell that this particular foot is not nature's own?

Slip a silicone cover - toes and all - into four-inch high heels, and you have Heather Abbott, active executive and Boston Marathon bombing survivor - still walking gingerly, but tall and stately as ever - standing on phase one of her new lifelike prosthetic leg at Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics in Manchester, N.H.

It's a process, and Heather's learning patience.

"You're not going to get there right away. so, when I first got my initial leg, it was really big and really bulky and it hurt a lot to put on and I couldn't walk at all," she says.

Matt Alburquerque, Next Step President, says "This would be an example of the type of a standard prosthesis  that she would receive, which involves a socket that she puts her limb into -- a prosthetic foot, and this is what we would call a standard cover that would go over a prosthesis."
     
On Thursday, they were shaping and measuring the white foam prosthesis that will bear that outer covering on which silicone technicians  at Next Step have painstakingly matched Heather's skin tone.

"So what we're going to be doing today is to create the shape of this, so when they put the cover on, it will look exactly like heather's other leg," Alburquerque says.

It all happens in the Next Step lab. It's science, but it's also art -- art imitating life.

Dave Newman is production supervisor, and he does the shaping and measuring. Then the prosthesis goes off to a British firm, where art students lay the silicone down in sheets and do the detailing and painting.

When it comes to "shaping and measuring", ultimately it's hard to take the measure of a woman who last weekend was paddle boarding with her waterproof prosthesis.

"It was great, it was really great," she says.

She wears high heels at her executive job and outside work, but also wants to get back to the gym and those cardio workouts she likes.

For her and the other bombing amputees, it's a process.

"I'd like to be able to run at a faster pace than a three on the treadmill, which is where I am right now," Heather says.

She'll have the finished version of her "new leg" in about a month, and we're betting she'll quickly get up to speed.

Tags: Greg Wayland, Boston Marathon bombings, Heather Abbott, Boston Marathon bombing survivors
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