April 10th, 2019 | Published in Amputee Stories
Lourdes Mueller isn’t a firefighter or a soldier. She doesn’t run marathons. But she does have an important and demanding job.
“She’s a school teacher and a typical mom, and she does everything a mother of three little kids has to do,” her prosthetist said.
Thanks to the new Rheo Knee® by Ossur, Lourdes’ job has been made a little easier. She’s only had the Rheo for a short time and already, “I’m pretty psyched about it,” said Lourdes. This is good news, considering that for a while she thought her life was essentially over.
In 1988, she went water skiing while on vacation from college. When the boat turned, Lourdes went into the water, and another boat ran over her, severing her right leg just above the knee and severely injuring her left leg.
“I woke up five days later in the ICU without one leg and with the other in a cast,” Lourdes said. “I thought I’d never go back to school. I thought I’d never get married.”
Then her orthopedic surgeon referred her to Muilenburg Prosthetics, Inc. and she had an initial consultation. Her prosthetist made her feel “comfortable in a difficult situation,” she said.
Her worries about not graduating or marrying would soon be forgotten. She soon went back to school where she met her future husband Chris.
“At first, I didn’t think I’d be able to do anything. Well, I knew I was going to walk because I was determined to do so. However, I didn’t know that I’d be able to do any other activities. But my husband was always saying, ‘You’re going to do everything.’”
A year later, Lourdes and Chris were snow skiing in Colorado. Lourdes went on to graduate with a degree in community health education, become a social worker, and then a kindergarten teacher. She took time off this year because she just had a third child. Lourdes and Chris have two sons, Christopher, Jr., and Luis, and a daughter, Marisa.
Since the accident, Lourdes has had four different prosthetic legs. The most recent one utilized a Mauch SNS Knee. It was adequate, but Lourdes thought it was time for a change.
When asked why, she said, “Stairs.”
“I hated stairs because you have to go down them one stair at a time. And when you have little kids like I do and have to chase after them, it really helps to be able to do that faster.”
Then Ossur introduced the Rheo Knee, which adjusts to the user’s gait one-thousand times per second and offers the ability to walk on inclines. She was one of the first people in Texas to get a Rheo Knee, but she came close to not getting one at all.
“I supposedly wasn’t the ideal candidate for this knee because of my short height and long residual limb. I have about ½ inch of a pole to attach the foot. So, at first they weren’t going to consider me.” Thanks to the efforts of her prosthetist, she was considered. “I appreciate it so much. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to try it for another year or so,” Lourdes said.
Lourdes has had her new Rheo Knee for two days and already she’s walking down stairs foot over foot.
“I haven’t done that in years,” she said. “I have a lot of stairs at home, so it’s really nice. Also, quick turns are a lot easier. And everyday walking requires less effort. It’s a lot easier. I’m more stable. I used to have to go sideways down a steep incline. Now I don’t have to. The Rheo Knee will definitely change lifestyles.”