An Iowa company’s been recognized for its work with wounded soldiers. Dennis Clark owns a company that fits injured and disabled people with prosthetics. He got a phone call in September of 2003 from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. Clark says a lot of soldiers were coming back from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom who were amputees and needed prosthetic care. There were too many for the army hospital to handle itself, he says. Clark says the work starts with talking to a soldier, the family and doctors. They talked with each individual soldier about their injury, their goals, their objectives, their level of activity and what they want to do. He adds that often, an injured soldier who’d lost a limb could walk on a prosthesis before they could walk on the other badly damaged leg. He says practitioners spent time with each soldier to talk about how to use artificial limbs. He says they helped each wounded soldier injure their life isn’t over. “In fact, in many cases their military career is not over,” Clark adds. The patients at Walter Reed got help to regain skills, strength and “ambulatory status” that will let them go on to not only a long and healthy life, but possibly stay in the military and be a participating member of the armed service. Clark’s not a doctor but studied in the orthopedic surgery department of Northwestern University Medical School. Clark’s offices in Waterloo, Dubuque and Marshalltown help patients with both prosthetics and orthotics: “One is a replacement device,” he explains, a prosthetic to replace a part of your body you’ve lost. “The other is something to support a portion of your body that’s not functioning at maximum capacity.” Veterans Administration funding helps pay for the work of helping wounded soldiers walk but Clark says they’re not making the “Six-Million-Dollar Man” at taxpayer expense. Clark says he and his co-workers felt a responsibility to be “stewards of healthcare dollars,” adding each patient’s dealt with individually, and using the right technology is more important than giving everyone the most expensive and newest “gadgets.” Clark and Associates have received a congressional award for their work with the wounded soldiers.
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