Seth Alexander – Schell City, Missouri
Seth Alexander was 16 years old when he was involved in a single car accident. The road was wet from a recent rain shower and as he approached a curve, he downshifted and lost control of the vehicle. The car rolled and landed on top of Seth, severely crushing both legs and pinning him under the car. This was a devastating injury that would forever change his outlook on life.
After recovering in the hospital for almost a month, both of Seth's legs had not recovered from the massive trauma sustained in the accident. Due to gangrene and escalating infections, the doctor gave Seth the choice of amputation of both legs above the knees or losing his life due to internal organ failure from the growing infection. The next day, Seth had made his decision and asked the doctor to do what was necessary to amputation both of his legs above the knees.
At that time, Seth was unaware of what prosthetic options were available and he really had no frame of reference for just how difficult it would be in order to regain his mobility and independence following the amputation of both of his legs above the knees.
Initially, Seth was fit with very basic mechanical knees and foam and wood feet. He used crutches, walker and canes to provide the stability that he was missing. His balance was very difficult to manage and after taking just a handful of steps, he was drenched with sweat and exhausted. "I thought to myself, how would it ever be possible for me to wear these prosthetics for a full day and to be active again. I was so frustrated and felt totally hopeless about my situation. I loved running and playing sports, basketball was my passion and now, here I was, without both legs and hardly able to walk ten feet. This felt like an insurmountable obstacle," recalled Seth.
Fortunately, he met several other bilateral above knee amputees that were full-time prosthetic users that would serve as mentors and inspiration to help him reach his goals. Just six months post injury, he attended a bilateral training camp workshop that was a huge catalyst for his future mobility. At that event he eliminated using his canes and with the support of the group of bilateral above knee amputees, he learned how to step off curbs, walk down ramps and navigate daily challenges with prosthetic legs.
Just two months after becoming a full-time prosthetic user, he competed and ran in the Endeavor Games, an athletic event for individuals with physical challenges. "Running took so much energy but it was exhilarating and felt really good to push myself to the limits of my ability", said Seth.
Seth has taken his running to an amazing level. Very few bilateral above knee amputees have achieved the athletic level that Seth enjoys. He participates in many different athletic events across the country. He ran on a triathlon relay team in California, taking on the 10 mile run. He has participated in various 5K and half-marathon events including events that support wounded services members. In April, he participates in the annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon and in June he competes in the Endeavor Games, running in the 100, 200 and 400 meter races. "I love to run, for me it is freedom, and I can put on my headphones and go. Running was something that I had lost when my legs were amputated. But thankfully, with the expertise of Chad Simpson and Randy Richardson, I am able to pursue my dreams with many athletic endeavors. I use the same pair of sockets for all of my activities. They are fit incredibly well to my limbs. My sockets don't limit me, and I don't need to stop and take them off in the middle of a long distance run, they stay secure. I hear stories from other amputees that have issues with their sockets, and I am thankful that the sockets I now use, do not cause me any complications", said Seth.
Seth uses direct skin fit suction sockets without any type of silicone liners that go over his limbs. He is in direct contact with the sockets, providing him with an unsurpassed level of connection between his body and the prosthetic technology. Seth does not use any type of adaptation in vehicles to allow him to drive. He uses his prosthetics to safely go from the gas to brake pedal, utilizing a custom programmable mode to keep the knee in the correct position. This allows him to be able to drive any vehicle and he is even able to drive a car with a manual transmission, operating the clutch with the left leg and gas and brake with his right.
Seth enjoys working with new bilateral above knee amputees to help them to achieve a higher level of mobility. He is a full-time student to one day be a physical therapist. He also holds a full-time job, but he always finds time to help and support other bilateral above knee amputees and is a living example of overcoming a devastating injury and attaining a highly active lifestyle being a full-time prosthetics user.