It's a Living: Kevin Curd, Prosthetist, Scott Sabolich Prosthetics & Research, Oklahoma City

Article excerpt

Kevin Curd reconstructs arms, legs, hands, feet, self-image and a sense of confidence and ability.

"You get this feeling that when they stand up and start walking on this new leg you've made, they'll be overcome with emotion and all that stuff," said Curd, a prosthetist at Scott Sabolich Prosthetics & Research in Oklahoma City.

"Most of the time that doesn't happen. ... They're ready to move on down the road," he said. "But it does sometimes, often enough. And you can see the tears rolling down their face and the family is overjoyed. That's what makes my job great."

Curd was an architecture draftsman considering a career in the architectural industry when he heard about a new prosthetics program at Francis Tuttle Technology Center. He found that the skills satisfied his need to help people directly and work with his hands. Sabolich Prosthetics hired him as soon as he finished his residency training period.

His initial contact with patients usually involves a limb casting to create a socket to attach the new components. Building an arm or leg to a patient's specifications is tough enough - the appearance and feel will become part of that person's self-image - but making it fit for long-term use is a different kind of challenge and commitment.

"Typically you spend a lot of time at the doctor's office but when you're done you don't see him again," he said. "They're here, in our room, eight hours a day, for two to three weeks at a time. Even after an arm or leg has been delivered, we have the patient back a week later, then a month after that, three months, six months, and we do develop long-term relationships with the patients."

Young patients have to come back over the years for adjustments or even entirely new limbs as their bodies grow. But even older patients go through what Curd referred to as a maturation process, in which the amputated tissue site heals and adapts to changed physiology - reduced blood flow, for example, and muscle atrophy because connections have been severed. …