Part II: Barb & Carl Making Prosthetics History

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Blog author Barb Caspers
Blog author Barb Caspers

November is National Caregiver’s Month and we asked Barb Caspers to share her 50 year journey living with her husband Carl, who lost his leg below the knee in an accident when they were both in high school. Barb continues her story with Part II.  Here is Barb’s story in her own words.

Scott and Cori joining our practice brought a whole new dimension to our small practice.  As Carl continued to fit patients and work on making things better, our marketing “team” was ready to bring the TEC liner to the world.  So world here we come.  We started at the AOPA conference with a small table showing the new concept liner.  Carl and Scott were really busy showing all the practitioners the new product. We soon learned they were all very anxious for something better for their patients.  After being around the people in the field of prosthetics for almost 50 years, you realize that most practitioners really do want the best products for their patients to give them back the mobility they have lost.  It truly is an honorable field.  Well, that start snowballed in a whirlwind of activity for the four of us!  We started to travel, teaching and showing this new product while giving us the opportunity to see a large part of the world. 

When the orders starting coming in the door it was like Christmas every day!  We gathered around the UPS delivery guy (Tom) and practically jumped up and down as the numbers grew.  Ok, now what do we do??  We started to hire more people and quickly ran out of space for the molds we kept in the back.  The logical answer, of course, is to buy a building and jump into manufacturing mode.  We found amazingly good people to work with us and the excitement was felt throughout the company and we grew.  I wish I could paint a picture for you of the fun we had.  Yes, we were having fun but we were also working very hard.  It became apparent that we couldn’t do both the practice and manufacture the TEC liner.  So the painful decision was made, like so many others, to sell to Hanger O&P so we could concentrate on  the future of the TEC liner.  For those of you amputees who have an opportunity to wear this urethane liner,  I’m sure you know what a difference it has made.  We just couldn’t not go forward!

My prosthetist husband Carl just couldn’t stop thinking about what could be better.  I have always been able to tell when something new in the prosthetic world was brewing….hmm

After much trial and error, and help from the St. Cloud State University, he pioneered a vacuum pump within the artificial limb to maintain volume and linkage.  He came up with the idea from a machine shop that was using vacuum to hold pieces of wood.  He’s always been a dreamer but this was really out of the box.  So the Harmony vacuum was born.  Now, we are really having fun and working even harder.  The really good thing that came from all of these discoveries, Carl no longer has any limb issues and lives his life to the fullest.

In 2003 we sold TEC Interface Systems and the Harmony vacuum system to Ottobock Health Care.  Carl wanted to sell to a company that could bring the products to the entire world and Ottobock was the choice for the job. 

Carl hunting with his dog, Classy.
Carl hunting with his dog, Classy.

Retirement isn’t in Carl’s nature so the thinking process began again.  Geez, I don’t think I will ever get that second home in warm country !  Minnesota isn’t exactly most retirees first choice for spending those snowy winter days.

He has come up with another product!  It is now EMS which is Environmentally Managed Systems……here we go again.

We have been very blessed with a wonderful work experience and an amazing family.  Besides our daughter Cori and husband Scott, we have their two beautiful children Sienna and Kempton who are now in their teens.  Our son Tony is a SWAT officer with the city of Minneapolis  and he has a son Dominik who is eleven. 

50th wedding anniversary party
50th wedding anniversary party with our children, Cori and Tony.

Scott has worked his way through Ottobock staying with them when we sold.  They lived in Germany  and now back in the states, has the position of President of Ottobock North America.  We are very proud of him and we feel they are very lucky to have him.
Being married to an amputee has some unique challenges, but I have been very lucky in love finding a man who is so passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.  I wouldn’t trade these last 50 years for the world!
My advice to the spouse or loved one supporting an amputee – be a good listener, support the tough times and above all know that being an amputee isn’t who you are – it is just something that happened to you and you can rise above it and enjoy what this life brings, whatever that might be.

Carl and Barb golfing.
Carl and Barb golfing.

Did you miss Barb’s first installment? Read it here


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