Local amputee builds Lego leg to inspire

By Mike Bush

ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - At Washington University's assisted technology lab, they're training people on the proper way to use their arms when they can no longer use their legs.

"Our participants are new wheelchair users, "explains Christina Stephens.

Stephens is an occupational therapist. She specializes in wheelchair biomechanics.

"Basically what happens is that people are not taught the proper way to push and so they start pushing in a way that's bad, "she says.

Her colleagues describe the 31-year-old south St. Louis resident this way.

"Skilled, hands on, passionate, "chimes occupational therapist Kerri Morgan.

Her clients say she understands what they're going through.

It was January 2013.

"I was working on my car, changing my brakes, "Christina recalls.

When all of a sudden, the car slipped off the tire jack and all 2900 pounds came crashing down on her right foot.

"Believe it or not it didn't really hurt that bad," Stephens remembers. "And that's because I damaged some nerves in my foot."

As soon as her husband was able to free her foot, he rushed her to the hospital. In addition to the nerve damage, her foot was broken in eight different places. As the days passed, it just never healed properly.

"I was frustrated that I had to be with that foot all the time", she says.

Doctors said it would take multiple surgeries to save it and even then they couldn't guarantee a functional outcome, so Christina opted for amputation.

"I knew with my background," she says, "That a prosthetic with a good energy storing foot would probably enable me to lead a more functional life."

Months later, she says her body may have changed but her quality of life hasn't. The therapist in her decided that someone might benefit from her experience, so she started sharing her story on the web.

"I couldn't find any information that ran the whole spectrum from getting your prosthetic and beyond and so I decided to start making those videos," she said.

"I think she's doing it in different ways to capture people's attention to get the information out," said Morgan.

After posting them on Youtube and Facebook under the name AmputeeOT, her rather unique take on things, helped her develop a small following. Then with one five minute video she went viral.

Recalling a conversation she says, "One of my colleagues said you should really build a leg out of Legos, that would be cool. And I thought, man that would be cool."

So Christine went to work. Using skills she learned as a child, she spent 45 minutes one day and an hour and fifteen the next to build a prosthetic leg out of Legos.

She explained that "It's really more conceptual than functional I would say."

The time lapse video quickly had more than a million views and it helped support her larger goal. To destigmatize amputation.

"People are afraid of amputees and stumps, it's scary," she admits. "I hope those videos will make them less afraid."

The human spirit isn't as fragile as the human body. It can be sewn back together with the thread of determination.

"I think it's just important to give people a different perspective that having a disability doesn't mean that your life has to stop, "says Morgan.

So Christina Stephens continues her work in the lab and online. Helping us all to see that even when you lose a limb, with the right attitude, you'll be amazed with what you can find.

"That makes me feel like I'm doing what I should be doing," she said.

Here's a link to her Facebook page


And her YouTube page



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