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Thanks for the Memories

I have just finished reading the April 2007 edition of The O&P EDGE and could not rest because of the memories that it brought to mind. Thank you.

I have been involved in prosthetics since 1936, when my father, Dr. Henry H. Kessler, was the first surgeon in the United States to use the cineplasty procedure for upper-extremity amputees. He was also [one of the] orthopedic physicians [to found] ABC (American Board for Certification in Orthotics & Prosthetics, now the American Board for Certification in Orthotics, Prosthetics & Pedorthics), along with Chet Hadden, etc. Their philosophy was, "You fit the prosthesis to the amputated site, not the site to the prosthesis."

My education in prosthetics started with Earl Daniels from the Howard Rusk Center, who influenced me to begin training at the Winkley Co. in Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the guidance of Del Gruman...

I read of Mel Stills and his accomplishments and his training in the Navy ("Mel Stills: Catalyst for Change," The O&P EDGE, April 2007). I trained at the prosthetic facility at Mare Island Navy Base, where my father, then a captain in the Navy Medical Corps, was director. I recall the work there by Robinson, Jay Green, Hittenberger, the Fitch Arm and Elbow, The Hosmer Group, and Realastic, to name a few, and their influence in the improvement of prosthetics...

-Jerome S. Kessler, CPO
Prosthetic and Orthotic Consultant, Reston, Virginia

More Information on Post-Polio Orthotics Needed

I read with great interest your Perspective written by Peggy Pascal (" A Letter to All Orthotists ," The O&P EDGE , April 2007). The article hit closer to home than I cared to realize. I, too, contracted polio when I was 11-weeks old. I am now 51. My left leg was totally paralyzed, but my right leg was minimally affected.

I had a wonderful orthotist, John Kintz, CPO, who was in San Jose, California, until his business was bought and he moved to Washington. I was in my 20s at the time, so I just flew up to have him do my brace work. He was only about 20 years older than I was, so I thought that he would be around for a long time. Unfortunately, he had Crohn's and passed away about ten years ago. I have been using a colleague of John's son, who tries, but does not understand my needs.

Unlike Ms. Pascal, I have always lived on a working cattle ranch. I have ridden horses forever. I even designed my own bracket to lock my brace in a 45-degree angle so I could put pressure on my left leg when I ride. Before I got married, I showed horses all over the Western United States. One time I broke a rivet in my brace in Reno, Nevada. I had to ride in the finals the next day and promptly looked in the Yellow Pages to find the nearest orthotist. I walked in with my boots, hat, and spurs and asked if they could please fix my brace. I went into a room to take it off, and because it is made of stainless steel, the orthotist told me that I shouldn't be wearing such a heavy brace. He asked me who made it for me. When I told him John Kintz, a voice from the back yelled, "If John made it, there must be a reason for it." There was. I lead a very active life.

About ten years ago, I went to southern California and had a brace with a swing knee fabricated. It was wonderful to finally walk with a swing knee. The brace now resides in my closet because it only functions on flat, level ground. I do not spend my life on concrete, and I got tired of always having to look at the ground and decide where I was going to step or end up falling.

I, too, am very scared. I know that there is newer technology out there; however, I am afraid that I cannot find someone who has even worked on someone with polio, let alone someone whose life doesn't consist of just petting the horses but riding them.

Thank you for the article on Peggy Pascal, and please print more information on post-polio orthotics. There are more of us out there than you realize.

-Kathleen Manning
San Juan Bautista, California