Amputee Joe Garcia sat on a wall wearing Orion3 microprocessor knee

Joe's Orion 3 & Echelon Real Life Story

Posted on 29 April 2024

More than 30 years ago, Joe Garcia moved to Germany. After serving in the U.S. military in West Germany and finding the right woman at the time, he decided to leave his home town of Sacramento (California) behind. His life changes when an elderly lady in the car overlooks him on his motorcycle. He is admitted to hospital with fractures in his knee and wrist, several rib fractures and a displaced spine. After an artificial coma and many treatments, Joe's health is looking up again.

However, the doctors determine that the knee is too unstable – an artificial knee joint is needed. Joe Garcia is coping well with it. However, his work on the construction site demands too much from the implant – it causes a lot of wear. A new knee joint is then inserted and infection with a multidrug-resistant pathogen occurs during the procedure. What follows are numerous surgeries and multiple replacements of the knee joint. The germ is aggressive and appears again and again. Joe's leg is now 80% stiffened. When only the total stiffening and further shortening of the leg remained as a perspective, the Bayreuth native decided to have an amputation.

Amputee Joe Garcia parachuting wearing Orion3 microprocessor knee

The care in the hospital and in rehab is good, he gets to know other sufferers. But then comes the dismissal and the entry into a whole new phase of life. "I looked around the internet to see what technology and companies were available in the field of prosthetics. I watched a lot of videos of amputees coping with their lives with prosthetics – everything looked so easy. And then I was fired and nothing was easy anymore! Everything was new to me. A short time later, my courage left me and I doubted my decision to have the leg removed."

After a month, Joe Garcia picks himself up, because there is hope. During his stay in the rehabilitation clinic, the American contacts the Blatchford company. A sales representative visits him. "It was a very good conversation. He told me all the things that could be done and that I would get a new prosthesis that would no longer have anything in common with my simple transitional fitting." In order to implement the best possible care, the company Ott & Deittert Orthopädietechnik GmbH is chosen.

Joe's contact person is Christoph Deittert. He is a master orthopaedic technician and has been at his side ever since. He supplies him with the Echelon foot from the prosthesis manufacturer Blatchford. The hydraulic ankle joint foot imitates the natural ankle movement and permanently adapts to the respective surface, whether on uneven floors or slopes. In addition, the Echelon significantly increases the wearing comfort of the prosthesis, reduces pressure peaks in the socket and relieves the entire joint chain. For the knee joint, the expert reaches for the Orion3 from the same manufacturer. The safety and stability of the prosthesis ensures an even distribution of weight to relieve the preserved side and back.

"Every meeting is always an adventure for us. Joe was Joe from the very first moment. He is a person who radiates the positive. Right from the first meeting, he had set his goal: 'I want to be able to walk like the prosthetic runners in the YouTube videos,'" says Christoph Deittert, describing the encounter with his new client. So they both start to create a plan with everything necessary to be able to achieve this goal.

“All of a sudden, everything seemed to be going well: I had a great technician and an innovative prosthesis. It still takes a lot of strength and I have to train a lot with my leg, but now I don't let it get me down. After all, you also have to be a role model for your children. No matter what comes in life, you can do anything if you have the will to do it – that's what I want my children to learn.”

Recently, Christoph Deittert surprised his customer with an extraordinary promotion. In rehab, he had noticed that Joe had written a "bucket list" of things he really wanted to experience. "After the first hurdles, which he had successfully overcome through good training, his to-do list written in rehab came into play. One point of this should serve as a reward for the improvement in running: paragliding," says the master orthopaedic technician. In Austria, the dream came true. "Before, I was really scared, not to say panicked. But after five seconds in the air, something strange happened: I suddenly started crying!

I was free! yes, I thought, you're back! I felt so alive, it was incredible. Like a kiss from God!" Since then, the 53-year-old has had his feet firmly planted in life again. He is still in contact with two amputees, whom he met at the clinic, and he has also attended a support group. "It was fun and it was interesting to exchange ideas." However, Joe Garcia won't forget his flight to God in a hurry ...

The article was published in the magazine BARRIEREFREI, issue 03/2020.