20 Things Prosthetic Leg-Users Want You To Know

We’re a unique breed of bionic people, but we’re not the Borg.

1. Amputation does NOT equal paralysis

I have nothing but undying respect for people with spinal cord injuries. But people with lower limb amputations are much different. (More on this later.)

2. No two legs are the same

Our prosthetic sockets are carefully and meticulously molded to each of our stumps. Test sockets are made, things are shaped and cut down and built up and re-molded so no, we can’t switch for fun.

3. No two amputees are the same

FUN FACT: All 3 people in the prosthetic-fitting photo are missing at least one leg.

4. There’s a BIG difference between above-knee and below-knee

Nothing compares to flesh and bone. The computerized knees they make for above-knee amputees are great, but we can’t control them with our brains yet. We make them flex and straighten by shifting our weight.

5. There’s a big difference between single and double

…and the less you have left, the harder it is to walk.

6. We don’t wear our legs 100% of the time

Sometimes you have to let the stumps breathe.

7. We really, really, REALLY appreciate our ability to walk

Most of us try extremely hard to avoid resorting to wheelchair use, unless we absolutely have to. (But, alas, the world is unpredictable, so we stay open to resourceful solutions to unlikely situations.)

8. We don’t walk around all day on these bad boys

That would suck. These are for running, and running only.

9. On that note, we’re not all Oscar Pistorius and/or Aimee Mullins

Athletic, gorgeous, successful, famous…

10. …Although some of us come close.

(Yes, some of those are pictures of me…)

11. Some of us were congenital, and some of us were cut due to illness or injury

(…get it?)

12. We’re not all heros

So please, don’t ever be disrespectful to an amputee who isn’t a veteran or a cancer survivor. Some, like me, are just paying for stupid mistakes.

13. We can and do lead normal lives

And I don’t just mean “normal” by cripple standards. We have normal-person jobs, drive normal-person cars, have normal-person friends and hobbies and fights with our families…

14. We date people

Inside and outside the amputated community. And our relationships are just as physically fulfilling as yours. (See #1)

15. There are people who fetishize us, and we have to deal with that

It’s usually extremely unwelcome.

16. We ARE allowed to use the handicap parking spot

Although some of us choose not to.

17. We could all use some “splash room”

For some of us, our regular, stable, every-single-day, totally under-control walking just looks really sketchy. But I promise you, we’ve got this.

18. Yes, learning to walk with fake legs was hard

And at times, frustrating. And un-dignified. And discouraging. But it’s worth it, when you take those first few unassisted steps.

19. It’s okay to laugh with us

Every single one of us has no-legs jokes that we tell, and tell often. And they’re very funny.

20. If you have a question, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE just ask

Being stared at hurts. And that hurt starts to build up inside, when the gawking is all we get. It gets exhausting. But we’re understanding- and I cannot stress this enough- all you have to do is talk to us. We’re all human.

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