SHREVEPORT, LA (KTBS) — A local orthotics and prosthetics company is having an impact, not only here, but in a far off land with a very special 21-year-old who exhibits the very essence of the human spirit and the will to overcome anything.
KTBS recently met Pavel Trofimov at the Gordon Schuckers Rehabilitation Pavilion at Ochsner LSU Health, where sounds of the Russian language filled the air — an unfamiliar sound in Shreveport.
Hank Richter of Certified Brace and Limb in Shreveport said Trofimov has a lot working against him “in terms of very short minor residual limb to work with on one side and nothing at all on the other.”
“We’re just working on his elbow lock functions right now,” Richter added.
Trofimov is getting his very first body-powered limb system designed and constructed by Richter and his team.
“He’s an inspiration, he really is. He’s the kind of guy I like to get behind and give it all I got. When we first put this on him and he was able to function the elbow and reach his mouth, that’s far beyond what most shoulder level amputee’s can do. But, then he was bending over and picking things up off the floor with the hook and returning them to the table…this is all in the first fitting. That’s months of therapy he’s already hopscotched over,” said Richter.
Richter teamed up with the School of Allied Health Professions at LSU Health Shreveport to help train Trofimov’s team that traveled with him from Russia.
“We’re very fortunate to have this faculty practice clinic, where we can have that expertise to offer patients that have amputations in their upper and lower extremities,” said Marie Vazquez Morgan of Ochsner LSU Health
“This is really nice that they are able to come over here and see how we do this process in the US, so they can take that back to Russia,” said Carla Saulsbery, also of Ochsner LSU Health
“He’s an orphan in the place near Moscow. Most of our kids from the orphanage and this is why it’s so important to help them. Besides the fact that they are orphans, they also have different challenges, different disabilities,” said Natasha Needham, Life in Motion International executive director.
Even though Trofimov is 21, he still lives in an orphanage as he finishes his education. Some might think he would be focused completely on himself. Not so much.
“I definitely want to help others see how you can use prosthetic arms. Don’t give up, just try, learn and I want to share my experience with people in Russia who are in the same situation,” said Trofimov.
He’s already been inspiring others with his legs. Trofimov ran in the New York City marathon last year. Now he wants to inspire others with his new prosthetic arms. Feeding himself with his own arm is a top priority.
“I really want to drive a car. I know it will take a lot of effort to do this, but I really want to try,” said Trofimov.
Trofimovl told me he is grateful to Richter and the people at Certified Limb and Brace, and the doctors and therapists at Ochsner LSU Health for their help. But it seems like the people who meet him get all the thanks they need, not from his words, but from the inspiration he provides during the time they spend together.
“He told me once that he probably lost his arms for a reason. To meet incredible people in his life and to do what he probably would never have been able to do,” said Neeham.
“Self-improvement is very important for me and I also want to help others who have trauma so they will know that’s not the end,” said Trofimov.
Trofimov is scheduled to make one more trip to Shreveport for any final adjustments with Certified Limb and Brace. After that they hope to be able to handle all of his future therapy and care in Russia.
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