The Center for Amputee Rehabilitation
He pauses. "It's still really hard to talk about this," Curtis says as he begins to describe the events of September 11, 2001. When planes struck the World Trade Center early that morning, the soft-spoken computer analyst was busy at work on the 70th floor of Tower I in the offices of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. People began racing for the stairwells and Curtis, whose left leg was amputated above the knee after a motor vehicle accident a few years earlier, followed. Negotiating down the darkened, crowded stairs was difficult, but fortunately for Curtis, he had recently been fitted for a new high-tech prosthesis at Kessler. "The C-leg® saved my life. My prosthetists and physical therapists told me I'd be amazed with the way this new leg would give me a more natural gait and better balance ... but I never thought I'd have to rely on it under such difficult circumstances," he recalls.
Curtis eventually made his way down the stairs, across a flooded lobby and out onto the street. He was only about a block away when the tower came down As thick gray smoke filled the streets, he crouched in the alcove of a storefront and prayed. His leg was throbbing; his whole body ached. He thought about his wife and children ... and about his own mortality. The eerie silence gave way to sirens and paramedics came to his aid.
Yes Curtis is one of the lucky ones. He still works for the Port Authority and now has a more advanced prosthesis that enables him to walk with even greater ease and comfort. While he will never forget all that was lost that day, he says he will always remember the strength he found.
For a construction foreman, safety is always a top priority. But accidents happen. In one devastating moment, a 27-ton excavator backed up, caught Gio and crushed his leg. He was taken by helicopter to a regional trauma center, where surgeons had to amputate his left leg below the knee.
A week later, Gio began rebuilding his life at Kessler's Center for Amputee Rehabilitation. It wasn't easy. He couldn't seem to grasp the magnitude of what had happened to him. He though he'd never walk again. Words - like limb management, phantom pain, prosthesis - all seemed so foreign to him.
Through the eyes of others though, he began to see a different side of his injury. He met with other amputees from Kessler's Peer Support Group who shared their personal insight and experiences with him. Gio understood that he was not alone in his concerns and fears ... and he opened himself up to his therapy team at Kessler. In fact, he credits them with helping him to once again be all that he could be.
Part of this process was learning how to walk again. Giovanni's first few steps were painful and his balance was off. But with time and practice, not to mention a specially-designed prosthesis, Giovanni was able to return to work. "You learn how quickly your life can change ... and you've just got to take it one day at a time."