It is always inspiring to hear about health professionals being so passionate and energized by their job. Dr. Richard Marn’s guest for this episode is no exception. Dr. Abe Mathews, a prosthetist and orthotist, is probably one of the most passionate guests this show has ever had. If you stopped for a few seconds to wonder what a prosthetist and orthotist means, you’re going to understand shortly as you make your way through this conversation. A lot of people’s lives would be a lot worse without people like Dr. Abe. Learn who these people are and what wonders the professionals in the world of prosthetics and orthotics are doing to change their lives for the better.

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Changing Lives One Limb At A Time With Prosthetist & Orthotist, Abe Mathews, CPO

This show is for students and advisors, or anyone interested in health career. We pull back the curtain of the many health career opportunities out there. We learn what it’s like to work in various health related careers as we interview professionals from various fields. We’ve been very fortunate to have some guests who are so passionate, excited and energized by their job. Our guest is no exception. In fact, I would dare to say he’s probably one of the most passionate guests I’ve had on this show. Most people will not seek out this professional unless something unfortunate has happened to them or one of their loved ones. For those who do need him, what he does helps change the trajectory of their life. Our next guest is Dr. Abe Mathews. He’s in orthotist and prosthetist. I know most of you will not know what that means. As you read, you’ll better understand what he does for people whose life would be a lot worse without him.

Originally from New Delhi, India, he moved to New York City when he was a young child. He got his biomedical engineering degree at NYIT as an undergrad. He then went to Drexel University to get a Master’s in Biomedical Engineering. During his Master’s degree or his coursework, he was accepted into the prosthetics and orthotics program at the University of Connecticut. He left the Master’s program to pursue his goal, which is to be a prosthetist and an orthotist. He works at Progressive Orthotics & Prosthetics. He’s been there for several decades. If you like what you are reading, please subscribe. Otherwise, let’s jump into this episode.

Thank you for joining for another episode. I have a very interesting guest, Abe Mathews. Welcome, Abe.

Thank you. How are you?

I’m doing good. Thanks for joining me all the way from Long Island.

No problem. Anytime. This is an easy commute by telecommunications.

I was introduced to Abe by one of my previous guests, Todd Bryson. I’m excited to hear about what Abe does. Can you tell people what you do and what you’re responsible for?

My name is Abe Mathews. My title is CPO. That stands for a Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist. I always tell everyone it’s a tongue twister. I do prosthetics, which are artificial limbs. I also make orthotics mostly for children who have disabilities.

Since you mentioned both prosthetist and orthotist, are all orthotists prosthetists and all prosthetists orthotists or can they exist separately?

They can exist separately. I did both to become more marketable, have more knowledge, and I can treat the whole body. I use experiences from both fields to help treat many difficult cases.

They are two separate entities that you have to go school for.

There are people that are COs. The population of certified orthotists is almost triple the number of certified prosthetists.

Orthotists outnumber prosthetists. What do you spend most of your time on?

Pre-pandemic, I did much more orthotics, 70%, 30%. That’s because I treat children’s schools. A simple clinic session at a school between hours of 9:00 and 11:00, I can see up to fifteen children. Now I’m not seeing many children at all, maybe ten a week and they all come to my office. Those children are suffering. They’ve all regressed in their abilities and it’s a very tough situation for them.

What population is pediatrics for you?

About 85%.

What age range are we talking about here?

I see infants. I’ve even seen children in the NICU, which are newly born to eighteen, until they become adults. I see them through that time but there’s a tricky age when they become teenagers. They don’t want to wear a brace and don’t want to be looked at by their peers differently. There’s an awkward age when they don’t want to wear brace. That’s the time they regress and surgical intervention sometimes happens, and it becomes complicated.

What problems do you help people out with as a prosthetist and also as an orthotist?

Prosthetist, I mainly help with artificial limbs, patients who had their legs amputated due to various diseases and/or accidents, trauma. I do below the knee prosthetics, which is called transtibial, above the knee prosthetics called transfemoral. It’s labeled by the major bone that they cross. I do a lot of below elbow prosthetics. Above elbow prosthetics, most patients do not have good compliance with them because they’re difficult to use. They find it easier not to wear a prosthetic. Although there are many successful users, but they have to be fit in the right time.

As an orthotist, what problems are you dealing with in that situation?

My biggest patient population is cerebral palsy, children that have had some infarct during birth. I treat children that have had in utero stroke. They had a stroke while they’re in the womb. They come out and they find they have all these developmental delays. We find that one side of the body is not working appropriately. They have all these muscular issues, tightness, can’t sit upright, neck tightness, head shapes, scoliosis. There are so many things. It’s unbelievable the amount of issues that we have to deal with. It’s a very tough situation because a child cannot talk back to you and cannot tell you what’s going on. We’re treating the parent usually, but doing the best we can for the child.

What is your typical day like? I know we talked about pre and post pandemic but to make it easier, let’s think about pre-pandemic. What was your typical day like?

HCDM 21 | Prosthetist & Orthotist

Prosthetist & Orthotist: Old-school orthotics is more physiologic than technical. You need to touch, feel and see what the child can do or what angles you can push them into before designing something.

 

Every day, I see at least 3 to 4 children and mostly in a school. I go to schools that have completely disabled children. These are specialized schools. No one would know about them unless they have children with special needs. Children with special needs go to special schools, and then they later on get into normal schools and into normal school life. During the beginning, they need utmost care. At those places, I see a child. To give you an idea of what I do with the child, we do evaluation with either a physiatrist, who is a physical medicine doctor, and the child’s physical therapist and/or occupational therapist. Together we have a team and we call it the clinic team. We do an overall assessment of the child and/or any patient in reality. We come up with a plan to best help that child either if it’s for standing, if it’s for sleeping positioning, for treating scoliosis, whatever the case may be and what that child presents with. That can happen all morning. I always take a lunch break or I try to. I’m usually driving from one clinic to the other. In the afternoon, I usually see all my prosthetic patients in the office because prosthetics are very involved. I have a full laboratory in my office where we make the prosthetics.

Do you make it yourself?

We have technicians. I don’t do a lot of the nitty gritty but we were trained to do that. We need to see the patients more, then the technicians help us fabricate.

You direct them. You help design it.

Yes, we design by hand.

That’s why every prosthetic is designed specifically for that patient.

No matter if I’ve seen 25 transtibial amputees, every single prosthetic is different because we take a hand molded cast of the residual limb, whatever’s left. It’s the same with the children. Back in ’95, I started in this field. We were taught in school to take molds. We are very technical with our hands. We do everything with our hands. We don’t take any measurements. This is the old school. I feel like I’m an old school. What we see coming in the future is a little different. We didn’t take any measurements. We did everything by hand, feeling the limb and what the body is like. When we go back to our lab with that mold, we get our hand back on it and the plaster model, then we know where we were at that point three hours ago when I took that mold. It puts me back in place.

It’s almost like an art artwork. It’s so technical in terms of it has to be exactly this measurement per se.

No, although I am an engineer by trade. I’m a biomedical engineer. That’s what I studied and then went to clinical practice into orthotics and prosthetics afterwards. I’m the only one who wears the lab coat at work. I’m very vain. I try not to get dirty. We work with plaster, our shoes are covered in plaster. We go out to a patient. We clean them up. We see the patient, take a mold, we come back, and we have hours to modify the mold. We use all these types of sculpting tools and we’re sculpting a plaster mold.

That’s the prosthetic part. The orthotics part, are you also designing by hand as well?

Yes and it’s even more difficult because most orthotics, children are getting two. We always have to make sure one foot is never the same as the other. Nowadays, people can use digital CAD, CAM, and things like that. They try and make them exactly the same. However, the kids are never exactly the same. Their feet and everything’s is never exactly the same.

Are you using 3D printing at all in this?

No. There is a lot of dabbling in it, but 3D printing filaments cannot handle the body weight so well. People do it and then they wrap it in fiberglass as if you had a fracture. They wrap it in fiberglass to give it stability, but you cannot adjust a 3D printed mold. It makes things complicated.

How you do this work, would you say this is also how other practitioners do across the country?

My old school guys, we do it that way. The new school guys, not so much. They do it a little differently. They do a lot of things by measurements, CAD, CAM computer design, not so much hands on, versus almost like an engineering way. This is a very biomedical physiologic. You need to touch, feel and see what the child can do or what angles you can push them into before designing something.

I imagine when you design something, you put it together, put it on the patient, and it doesn’t work. You may have to redo it again. Does that happen a lot?

It doesn’t happen a lot. Some children during the pandemic have regressed. I’m treating a child who did a 3-mile marathon. She has muscular dystrophy. She goes to Florida every year and she does a 3-mile marathon. She’s an amazing kid. She’s in college and doing everything she needs to do. I’ve been seeing her pre-pandemic. She’s doing fantastic. She hasn’t got to therapy in three months. Her ankles or feet are so bad, I can’t even get her standing. She can’t stand up. It’s funny because her mom called and said, “I think we’re ready to take a new mold for legs.” I spoke to the therapist. I said, “Her feet are not in a good position right now to cast her. If I take this mold now, it’s going to be for no use. We can’t do anything with it. She will not be able to walk in these.” I said, “Let’s go back to intense therapy for three weeks, then come back. We’ll get you standing and get you back to where you got to be.” It’s very tough.

That’s part of the feedback with your team members, other collaborators, and other clinicians. You do not say, “I’m going through the motions. I’m going to make something so she has it.” You want to design it for the right time, at the right moment.

Being in the field so long, I have no problem telling a doctor or a therapist or an occupational therapist, whoever it may be, “This is not the right time. Let’s wait it out and do the right thing.” Another big concern with that is insurance. If I make something now and I know it’s not going to work, what’s going to happen in three weeks when I have to get or something new? Insurance companies will say, “You made something. Why would I want to cover it again?” You have to do these things at the right time when it’s necessary to help the patient at their maximum potential.

What misconceptions do people have about your career?

People think we take things out of a box and put it on patient. People think that prosthetic limbs are made outside of our office. They’re fabricated by somebody else that doesn’t know the patient. We take it out of UPS counter at 11:00. We take it out of a box and we fit it on the patient’s leg. That is number one. They think everything is prefabricated and it goes on everybody. Number two is people think prosthetics are very expensive. They are expensive. However, doctors have asked me, “How come a prosthetic limb is $40,000?” I was like, “Let’s talk about this. I’ll give you $40,000. Let’s cut your leg off. What is it worth to you?” They’re like, “A prosthetic limb is the price of a Lexus.” It’s something you can’t put a price tag on to give someone back their independence in life.

Is it the same for braces as well? Is it also economically expensive as well?

They are expensive but nowhere close to prosthetics. Especially since I do children, bracing outgrow them every 3, 4, 5, 6 months. I’m remaking them. The cost is so much less because it’s different types of plastics that are used in different types of joints. Prosthetic limbs are very expensive because of the technology that we use, microprocessor units that we use, and some of the applications. The carbon feet that we use to return energy, shock absorbing feet, the gels that go on your limb to protect you from the prosthesis. There are many more factors, although it looks very simple.

Prosthetic limbs are expensive, but you can’t put on someone’s chance to get back their independence in life. Click To Tweet

When you’re losing a limb, you want to give function back to it. I presume it’s not just the form of it. It’s also the motion. The fingers, you want to return the use of those digits. I presume you’re set to put in some electrical components. How does it communicate with the rest of the brain? Do you guys have to factor that in as well?

I’ll give you a perfect example. I have a young guy that came in a few years ago. He works at a dry cleaning store. He had a burn injury to his arm, below his elbow. His arm was so burnt, it looked like it was put on a barbecue and it was filleted. Skin opened up, doctor called me and said, “This is a picture of the limb. What can I do with this?” I’m like, “There’s no choice but to amputate. Give me enough length and I would get him back to at least a functional state.” He had workers comp insurance, he was able to get the best money can buy. We did a microprocessor hand for him. Believe it or not, he was able to function his hand because he researched. We had him come to the office 3 to 4 times a week to get his muscle memory back because now he had no fingers.

He had lost his arm below his elbow right at the forearm area. We put electrodes on him. We ran a computer program. It’s almost like a game where he was able to fire muscles and make things happen on the screen, like graphs going up and down, car going through slots. There are many different things we can do to train, and we even train children like that. We play games with them, “Try this muscle and watch the car go up. Try this muscle and watch the car go down or left and right.” It’s very intricate. What happens is when you overthink things, your muscles get so tired and you can’t function anymore. It’s very frustrating. That guy went back to work. He’s working at the same place where he lost his arm. He comes in all the time. He breaks everything, which is okay because we can fix that. If he breaks things outside, I can’t do anything for that. I can fix his prosthetic any day, all day.

What do you mean he breaks things?

He’s so active at work, he breaks the thumb of his prosthetic all the time. I probably put 30 thumbs on him already.

Is he able to do the same work as before?

Yes, the same work. We got him two different hands. It almost looks like a claw. We got one that’s very functional. Every digit moves on his hand. It’s got 30 hand positions. It’s called gesture control. It’s very intricate. If I showed you a video of him functioning, it’s unbelievable what he can do. We made him a custom silicone glove where you cannot tell that he’s wearing a prosthetic hand. He goes out for dinner with his girlfriend and he’s wearing his prosthetic hand with the silicone on it and you cannot tell that it’s a prosthetic until he functions it. When he goes to dinner and holds a glass, you see the difference in motion.

You said that he has two hands.

Yes, he unplugs that one when he goes to work. It’s called a Greifer. It’s basically a cloth that latches down onto the various things that he does. He does certain machines, he needs to hold a handle. He grabs that down because the other hand is so intricate with all the fine movements that he would break it all the time.

It’s more of a work-related tool. I think it’s already coming out in what we’re saying, but what is the most rewarding part of this job for you?

Number one, this is not a job. I can’t even tell you. Every day I go to work. Not many people can say this, but I don’t think it as a job. Every day is different. Every patient is different. Every patient’s story is different. Helping someone get out of a chair and standing in an orthotic for the first time, having the child move a few steps for the first time, their parents are like, “It’s their first steps.” It’s amazing. I have a little boy that fit a prosthetic leg. He’s one-year-old. I finished the prosthetic and his parents sent me a video of his first fourteen steps independently wearing the prosthetic leg. I shared it to the whole office, everybody’s in tears. You can hear a man screaming in the background, “Thomas did it. He did it.” You cannot take that back. We cry at the office all the time when patients come out of a wheelchair. They stand up for the first time and we’re all in tears. It’s an amazing job.

You guys got to get a lot of tissue paper at your workplace. Is there a least favorite part of your job or your career too?

Yes. The hardest part of our career is seeing little children and patients in agony of what has happened to them. The traumatic events of what happened. I had a new parent in the office. Their two-year-old was diagnosed as hemiplegic. The one side of her body does not function. She can barely walk. She does not use her left hand at all. She totally ignores the left side of her body. Seeing those things and mom’s coming to me crying, “Can you fix this?” It’s a very tough thing but I cannot fix it. I can help make it a little better and help her in her life down the road, but I can’t fix that. That’s going to be a lifelong wearing a brace on our foot, maintaining her range of motion, keeping her over-extended, teaching her to use the other side of her body. Kids like that sometimes don’t even see the left side. If you can imagine riding a bicycle with one eye closed, you have no perception of that one whole side of your body. Life becomes very tough.

Prosthetically, a hard thing is patients don’t have the greatest of insurance. They excel in what they can do. They want to go to the gym but they’re not going to be able to get a prosthetic that’s going to support lifting 300 or 400 pounds. I hate to say this out loud, but we donate a lot of prosthetics to people. Who am I to say you can’t have something? Luckily, we do well in our company where we give back a lot. I fit a double amputee at the hospital during COVID. No insurance. What are we going to do, say no? I wouldn’t be able to sleep. I made her two prosthetic legs. I gave it to her on a Friday. She got discharged on Monday because he had no insurance. She went home and now she’s going to follow up with me in one month. She’s walking. She lives alone. No spouse and her son is away at college. Her son didn’t even know she had the second amputation done. She didn’t want to burden him.

You get deep into people’s lives.

I wear many hats. I act as a social worker. I’m your friend. I like a motivational speaker. I’m your insurance adjuster. I’m your technician. People call because they need somebody to talk to. I had a woman in the office. She’s blind. She became a below the knee amputee. She’s big into dogs. She had a dog when she was young. She lost her eyesight to diabetes. She has many complications from diabetes. She’s a wonderful woman. I put a dog in her prosthetic. It’s a dog of one of the guys who I work with. The dog’s name is Rex. She shows everyone her prosthetic and meanwhile, she’s 100% blind.

You put a dog in her prosthetic? What do you mean by that?

It’s a picture of our coworker’s dog that we designed into her prosthetic. It’s a picture of a dog on it. She tells everyone, “This is Rex.” It’s amazing. She’s a wonderful lady and I have to walk her around. To teach a patient who’s completely blind to put a prosthetic on, get it on properly, and ambulate is amazing. She only ambulates with a cane. She’s in her late 60s or early 70s.

For you, what is your work-life balance like? Is this the career where you’re working on weekends, working late into the night? How would you describe your work-life balance?

My work is amazing. I always tell the owners of the office, “I’m a part time employee but I do everything I can into that part-time.” I go in at 8:00 AM. I get prepared for the day. Patients start at 9:00 AM and I usually get home by 5:00, 5:30, 6:00 PM. If there’s an emergency, I am at the office anytime you need me. If a patient breaks his or her prosthetic, I am there to fix it. I will go back to work at any time of the day. I don’t care. It doesn’t matter to me.

You make me want you to be my prosthetist if I ever become disabled in that sense. Would you recommend this career to students?

I definitely recommend this career if you are someone that is good technically, good hand skills, understand physiology and engineering. There’s a lot of components and factors to this. I did biomedical engineering as an undergraduate in my grad school. That helped me get into school. This profession is very difficult to get into. There are only eight schools in the nation that offer schooling in prosthetics and orthotics. It used to be about fifteen but the lack of funding stopped that. I had to go to school in Connecticut. I went to the UConn with the Nugent Children Medical Center. I used to work here. I went to school and did my residency. While I did my residency, I went back to school for my second discipline, which was orthotics. I did prosthetics first. I used to go to work at 6:00 in the morning, go to work until 3:00 PM, drive to Connecticut, start class at 5:00 PM. I finish by 11:00 PM and drive back home. It was crazy. I thought I was going to fall asleep on the highway multiple times.

You were a prosthetist for several years working. You said, “I want to get more schooling,” so you have to go to Connecticut.

HCDM 21 | Prosthetist & Orthotist

Prosthetist & Orthotist: Prosthetics and orthotics are recommendable careers if you are someone who has good hand skills and understands physiology and engineering.

 

I’ll give you the timeline. I went to New York Institute of Technology undergrad. I finished there. I went to Drexel for my graduate program in biomedical engineering. During my second year of biomedical engineering, I’ve always known I want to do prosthetics. As I was starting my second year at Drexel University, I applied to these schools because it’s so difficult to get into. I felt I needed more engineering classes under my belt to get in. I applied in my second year and I got in, so I left the second half of my master’s program and I went right into the UConn School of Prosthetics. That was full-time. First year was full-time. I was up there. I lived in Hartford, Connecticut.

You dropped your Master’s program so you could get into the school.

I was the first interview and the first one notified I was in. I was like, “I’m done,” because this was my goal anyway. This is exactly what I want to do. Why waste money and finish up something when I can start now? I don’t want to put my life on hold. I wanted to get moving. I had a game plan. I’ve always had a game plan. I finished my first year in prosthetics and we have to do a one year residency in each discipline. When I finished my prosthetics education. During my prosthetic residency, I was going to school for orthotics as well. I was working as a prosthetic resident and I went to school for my orthotic education. After I finished that, I did my second residency. I then took my boards.

Is the education process much different from when you did it to what it is like now?

I believe what you learn and how you do things are different because of technology, but we still learn the same things. That is all the same. It’s like learning the basics but we learn everything we need to know.

What about in terms of number of schooling to get into prosthetics and orthotics?

Now the prosthetics and orthotics program is a Master’s program only. There is no Bachelor’s in it. Before it was a postgraduate degree that specialized to prosthetics, orthotics. Most people who go into this field have some biomedical undergraduate. Exercise physiology, physical therapy, engineering backgrounds. You need all of it to be good at it. A physical therapist came in and they know so much about the body. They do well in prosthetics. They know what the body should do. I had to learn that in school. People do this as a second career, which is amazing. Some people in my class were in their late 40s when I was in my 20s.

How long is the Master’s program?

Now it’s a three-year program. It’s one-year prosthetics, orthotics, then the Masters. Altogether, it’s three years.

Most people are getting combined degrees. That’s become the standard now.

I’ll tell you how I got into the field. I’m Indian. I’m from South India. My parents are born in South India. In the Indian culture, you can only be a doctor or an engineer. That’s it. When I was 13, 14 years old, my parents sent me to the hospital to volunteer because I need to know what the hospital’s like because I’m going to be a doctor. I push around amputees to the physical therapy rehab clinic as a volunteer. “When I grew up, I’m going to be a prosthetist. I’m going to make prosthetic limbs for somebody.” I figured engineering was a pathway. I’m the oldest of my cousins, so I had to figure it out on my own. I didn’t know what to do. I went to biomedical engineering undergrad and then I got accepted into that program. At the time I applied at prosthetics school, they had 500 applicants and 22 spaces. I got in, so it was great. I was like, “I’m out. I’m going to do this.” I got in and that’s it. It worked out great.

Is it that competitive still?

Yes, and some people don’t get in and they try again. It’s almost like going to med school where people take a gap year, then they go work or do volunteer work somewhere, then they go back in and apply again.

Did a lot of the technicians you worked with eventually tried to also become prosthetists and orthotists?

Some of them do. Back in the days, I’m saying the ‘80s, people were grandfathered in with X amount of hours without the actual clinical education because they were so hands on. They were making prosthetic legs out of wood back in the days. They learn how to fit because they were seeing patients as well with the prosthetists. I don’t see many technicians going forward into prosthetics, into clinical practice. Some people can’t handle it. You can’t see a residual limb or a cut limb that’s oozing from an ulcer or things like that. People can’t see those things. They make some people ill to see those things. It’s scary.

It’s not like people are in good spirits when they’re seeing you.

I go to bedside postoperatively to patients and I see them. I’m the guy telling them they’re going to walk again. I’ve had people kick me out of the room like, “I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t want to talk about my leg. I don’t want to talk about anything. My life is over. I’m going to die, so leave me alone.” I have to stay there. I have to stomach that. I say, “I’ll come back tomorrow.” I’ve done it. I’ve called them. That’s why our patients are very friendly. We’re very good friends with our patients because we promised them something. I promised that I’m going to get them walking again. That’s my job.

You also see a lot of them at the start when they’re at the bottom of whatever they’re going through mentally and psychologically. You’re one of their partners in trying to traverse this devastation in their life. Especially if they were healthy in advance.

Most people are healthy in the beginning. The number one reason for amputations is diabetes. No one realizes how bad diabetes is. These things happen so often. If you have one amputation, the chance of having a second amputation is in less than five years. You’re most likely going to have a second amputation. That’s tough to deal with. Every patient is self-diagnosing himself because of the internet. They’re like, “I’m going to lose a leg, then I’m going to lose a second one in five years. It’s not worth living.” It’s a very tough room to walk into when they already know what they perceive. Sometimes I have to tell patients to opt for amputation. They have their legs and I say, “Your leg is not in great condition. If you get an infection, you can die from this. You have to take your leg off.” How do you tell someone to cut their leg off? It’s one of the hardest things you can tell someone.

We had a patient who’s 91 years old. She fell and hurt her leg and has a vascular insult. She’s not getting good vascularity or blood flow to her leg. It’s slowly turning black. She went to the vascular surgeon. The vascular surgeon started calling me, “Can you call the patient? Can you tell her what prosthetics are all about?” After about 1.5 hours of conversation with her daughter who’s in her 60s, she said, “I should probably cut my leg off. I can’t live like this anymore. I’ve been crying in pain every night since September. That’s not a quality of life.” She had the amputation done. It’s my job to make sure she walks. I told her all the things that we can do. Her mind is there that I’m going to help her walk.

You definitely have to have be in good spirits when you see them. You can’t be negative and depressing. It’s not helping. What do you think the future outlook is like for your profession?

Technology is not booming as fast as you would think technology is booming. It’s like the iPhone, every year there’s new version. That’s not what’s happening in the technology standpoint. There are still feet and systems that I use back from the early ‘90s that still work tried and true. Why isn’t the technology moving forward? Because insurance companies are beating us over the head. They will not pay for technology. They want to know why. Why do they need this? Why do they do that? Why do they need to go jogging? Why do they need to go back to the gym? Why do they need to go swimming? Why do they need prosthetics to stand in the shower? Every insurance claim is a battle.

Insurance companies want to hold their money. They don’t want to give it to you. It becomes very tricky. We have to choose the right path for our patient to enable them to get what they need and when they need it. People come in and say, “I want the best prosthesis.” You just had your leg amputated. “What is the best prosthesis for you? We don’t know yet. Let’s wait until you’re healed and we know what you want to do with it.” People are telling me like, “I want to run a marathon.” “You never run a marathon before. You’re not going to do it because I made you a prosthetic. It’s not going to happen.” This is baby steps. You got to take your steps. You got to prove to me what you can do. I will make you what is optimal for you.

Telling someone to cut their limb off is one of the hardest things a doctor can tell someone. Click To Tweet

Reflecting back, would you have done anything differently?

In reality, no. I spent a lot of money in school, especially at Drexel, which is very expensive. That little portion, the experience and people I met there and I did a lot of affiliations while I was there at Drexel, even thought it’s for 1.5 years. It was something I can’t even put on paper. It was amazing. My whole career has been amazing. I thank God for that. It’s been a great ride.

It’s suffice to say that you’re very passionate about what you’re doing. I think a lot patients are benefiting from your drive and your desire to want to help them. We didn’t do this with some other guests. I’m starting this new thing where I’m doing this fun, light-hearted thing. It’s got some rapid fire questions. Keep your answers if you can to one sentence or short answer. Place you most want to travel.

I’ve been a lot of places. My last trip was to Greece. I’ll say Greece.

How many hours sleep do you need?

Five.

What’s your favorite car?

A Porsche.

Cats or dogs?

Dogs.

Can you touch your toes without bending your knees?

No way.

What’s something you could eat for a week straight?

Pizza.

Do you like Disneyland?

No.

Do you believe in organizing your life or letting things happen?

Organizing my life.

Finally, describe what would bring you the ultimate happiness in life.

See my kids flourish.

Abe, thank you very much for your time. If people want to reach out to you, how can they reach out to you?

It’s funny because when I left one company to another, we can’t market our patients. I was like, “All you got to do is Google me.” I never realized how powerful that is. That’s our calling card nowadays. If you Google me, it’s very simple to get me and it leads you right to my office. You can see videos of all the cool patients we see. There are five practitioners in the office. We have a small private practice. Twelve hours total in the office. We see quite a few patients and we make everything in the office. It’s awesome thing. In conjunction with physical therapy students, we give them a tour and explain to them what happens. They come in for a lecture to our office. We do lectures for physical therapists in our office about new technologies and how to get our patients to the next level. Googling is the easiest way. People can Google me and then call my office, reach out to me, email me. My email’s on there. I’m happy to talk to people because this is not for everybody. This is a very difficult job if your mindset isn’t there. I’ve seen many people get into this field and get right out of it.

HCDM 21 | Prosthetist & Orthotist

Prosthetist & Orthotist: If you have one amputation, the chance of having a second amputation is in less than five years.

 

You said on your website, you have some videos that people can see what you do?

There are tons. You can see my little kids running around in their prosthetics. It’s awesome. It gives you a sense of what you can do with a prosthetic. It’s amazing.

They can educate themselves too by visiting your website. This is a wonderful session. I’m so glad that we finally connected.

I hope I was informative and interesting, and not boring at all.

Definitely not boring. Thank you.

Absolutely. Anytime.

That’s our show. To learn more about our guest or the topic mentioned in the interview, visit HealthCareersWithDrMarn.com, or HCWithDrMarn.com. If you liked what you read on this episode and the show in general, please subscribe, rate and review the show. Thank you so much for reading and I’ll catch you next time.

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About Dr. Abe Mathews

HCDM 21 | Prosthetist & OrthotistCertified in Prosthetics & Orthotics by the American Board of Certification.

I specialize in lower extremity prosthetics from pediatric to geriatric, and orthoses for the pediatric population with disabilities like Cerebral Palsy, muscular dystrophy, Downs Syndrome, etc.

We work with physical medicine and rehabilitation doctors to get patients what they need and deserve!!!!