It’s not everyday you get the chance to meet the talented people behind a product which will make such a positive difference in your life.
This Fall, thanks to Ottobock I was actually given this amazing opportunity. I was invited to attend the 2013 AOPA conference. This was such a memorable event for so many reasons. In three days I was able to meet so many of the people directly involved in the design of the C-Brace. I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to thank these talented people face to face. I imagine how rewarding it must have been for them to meet people who have benefited from their talented work.
When I had just settled in at the hotel and was walking with my spouse into the hotel atrium, a smiling gentleman stopped us, handed me his business card and introduced himself as Scott Schneider the President of North American Ottobock. He had noticed my C-Brace and proceeded to introduce me to the gentleman who was standing with him, as the C-Brace inventor. I found myself speechless at first but I thanked him and shook his hand then asked him for a favor. He graciously accepted. I asked him if I could give him a hug; we shared an embrace. What else can you say to someone who has invented a product that will make such a huge difference in your ability to walk? Little did I know that soon I would meet additional members of the Ottobock C-Brace team. Fortunately, I was able to have several photos taken with many of the team members behind the C-Brace which I treasure.
I also had the surprise opportunity, thanks to Kelly Clark from Ottobock, to speak to a group regarding my experience with the C-Brace. Through my off the cuff speech I hope I was able to show a personal perspective why the C-Brace should be made available to others; along with sharing my appreciation to be able to wear the C-Brace in part thanks to my amazing orthotist, Jeff Pitler from Hanger who was the first person to find the C-Brace and start the process of testing if this was the product for me. Often as I made my way through the hotel I was stopped by people who had heard me speak; they shared how lucky they felt to have been able to hear me speak and that I had shown them the true heart of the C-Brace’s impact on one’s life.
During the conference I got to meet so many inspiring people from all over the world. I met many people who were benefitting from a brace or other aid. I got to talk to so many wonderful people and see them use their prostheses. I also got to see many examples of the ever expanding technology being applied to a wide variety of orthotics and prostheses.
While in the exhibit hall I was able to answer questions, model how the C-Brace helps me to walk and speak with many people regarding my experience with the C-Brace. I was excited to meet a gentleman who also used the C-Brace. He wore a C-brace on each leg. I enjoyed hearing about his experience and sharing my experience with the C-brace. I nicknamed him Superman because of the way he seemed to glide easily up and down a ramp and stairs; something I was in the process of learning. He shared such an importance piece of advice that I still remember each day, he told me to let go and trust the brace to be there for me.
Also, thanks to Ottobock bringing the test C-Brace; I got to see people use the C-Brace (who didn’t need one). I could not stop smiling as I watched person after person experience what the C-Brace does as they walked up and down a ramp and stairs. –
I was reminded of my initial experience with the test C-Brace. At first sight the test C-brace was a bit shocking with its large size, weight and “Transformer” like appearance. I was shocked and thought I could never wear that, I work in early childhood education! There were too many sharp edges and places little ones could pinch their fingers! But, I was quickly informed that the actual C-Brace would look nothing like the test brace. That was a relief.
I will always remember my first step down a stair while using the test C-Brace. Kelly Clark from Ottobock was standing in front of me and I was standing on top of a practice stair. He requested a simple action of me…that I step down using the leg with the C-Brace first. I told him that was something I couldn’t do. It had been ten years since I had been able to walk down stairs alternating feet one per stair. My first attempt I tried but held the majority of my weight by tightly grasping the parallel bars. After reassuring me numerous times that he could catch me, I tried. The test C-Brace worked! I was shocked and my eyes filled with tears of joy as I was able to complete this simple but amazing task. After several more trial steps down I announced, that I was all in! I was willing and ready to do whatever it took to learn how to use the C-Brace. –
In the exhibit hall and around the hotel I was so pleased to be able to model how I used the C-Brace and to share that although I was a very recent C-Brace recipient I did still have limitations due to the past ten years of me walking with a brace that did not provide reliable support. I was so happy to speak with conference attendees as I walked through the conference exhibit hall and hotel. Each person I spoke to was so kind, respectful and genuinely interested in learning about the C-Brace and also my experience.
I am truly grateful to have had the chance to attend the AOPA Conference to represent the C-Brace and model its capabilities. I look forward to continuing to grow in confidence with the C-Brace and learning to let go and trust the brace to be there for me.