More whimsy, less ‘whining’ in support group

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Laurie Udesky and David Dudley of Consumer Health Interactive put together a multimedia video presentation on the wacky international amputee support group Stumps R Us (click here to go directly to the presentation).

Much of the video was filmed at the group’s annual bowling outing, where founder and “Chief Stump” Dan Sorkin was quick to unleash his irreverent wit. “Alan Fisk, our athletic director, is a quadruple amputee and you saw him bowl,” Sorkin said, over a shot of Fisk hurling the ball with a special bowling prosthesis. “He’s terrible!”

Sorkin, who gives new members a free flight lesson, describes the change that comes over new amputees when he shows them that they don’t have to be either serious or sedentary. Many of them take to his whimsical attitude immediately.

“People at this group are positive,” one member said. “If they’re not, they don’t last more than one or two meetings.”

The presentation also profiles the group’s prosthetist, Wayne Koniuk, who talks about the difficulty of helping patients “trick mother nature” and “walk on parts of their bodies that were never meant to be walked on.”

Another profile focuses on amputee Chad Crittenden who became so comfortable with the prosthetic attached to his right leg that he was able to compete in triathlons, join a competitive soccer team and appear on the television reality show “Survivor.”

This entry, from AHCJ member Laurie Udesky, is nominated for a 2009 Webbie award. If you’d like to vote for the piece, click here.

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