Monday, November 12, 2007

Brooklyn BP honors Islander's firm

Dongan Hills resident is one of 16 employers honored as role models in the business community
Sunday, November 11, 2007


STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- For its history of employing individuals with disabilities, Arimed, a Brooklyn-based orthotics and prosthetics firm owned by a Staten Island resident, was honored recently by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and his advisory committee on Disability Issues.

Arimed was nominated by Elaine Winslow, coordinator of Career Directions and Transitional Services at Long Island University, after she placed a senior majoring in marketing in a paid internship, which has evolved into a part-time job in the firm's marketing and promotion department.

"Arimed welcomed me with open arms," said Kareem Maxwell, the student who transferred to Long Island University from a college in South Carolina after he contracted bacterial meningitis in 2002 and underwent several amputations. "This was my first step into the working world since this happened to me. It's been a good experience."

Steven Mirones, of Dongan Hills, president of Arimed, praised Maxwell and the contribution he's made to the firm. "He's really quite amazing," Mirones said. "He's so even-tempered and centered and he doesn't carry himself with any sense of disability. He's enthusiastic and a great addition to the staff."

Ms. Winslow said when she toured Arimed, she observed that several individuals with disabilities were working for the firm. According to Tim Evans, Arimed's chief operating officer, "All employees are treated with respect and appreciation for the work they perform."

The 16 innovative employers honored at the Oct. 11th awards breakfast at Brooklyn Borough Hall are role models in the business community, said Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz. Businesses that employ individuals with disabilities are doing the right thing, he said, but also making a wise business investment because when the labor pool shrinks after millions of baby boomers begin retiring in the next few years there will be an even greater demand for trained workers.

Arimed's award is the second in two years that the firm has received from the Brooklyn Borough President and his Advisory Committee on Disability Issues. In 2005, Arimed received a Business Advocacy Award for its generosity in donating prostheses to victims of violence, accidents, and war.

Under the leadership of Mirones, Arimed donated C-Legs, which are computerized prosthetics, to Paul Esposito, who lost his legs in the Oct. 15, 2003, Staten Island Ferry crash; donated prosthetic legs to Edgar Rivera, whose legs were severed after being shoved in front of an uptown No. 6 train in 1999; donated artificial limbs to victims mutilated in the civil war in Sierra Leone, Africa; and provided both prosthetic and orthotics services to destitute children in Ahmedebad, India.

Founded in 1949, Arimed features American Board Certified orthotists and prosthetists, professional orthopedic fitters and technicians, and an on-site laboratory and technical staff, and has offices in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx.

More information about the firm is available at

Area Marine vet gets leg up in life at Napa Valley Prosthetics and Orthotics

By JENNIFER HUFFMANRegister Business Writer
Sunday, November 11, 2007

While Russell Stanley’s prosthetic leg represents freedom and mobility for the 74-year-old Korean War veteran, it’s also a handy spot to tape extra keys to his house and car. That way, “They’re always with me,” said Stanley with a laugh.

Stanley lost his lower right leg in Korea in 1952 while serving in the Marine infantry. Wounded by mortar shrapnel, there was no choice but to amputate his limb, he said.

Losing a leg hasn’t held Stanley back in life. “I manufactured steel for 36 years, bowled three nights a week, managed a Babe Ruth baseball team and played tennis for 25 years,” he said.

But after a recent hip replacement, Stanley’s leg no longer fits correctly into the socket of his prosthetic. He’s without his limb, temporarily, while Kyle Eckhart of Napa Valley Prosthetics and Orthotics create a newer, lighter version of the artificial limb.

Eckhart, along with business partner Michael Bright, both certified prosthetist orthotists, recently opened their business on Beard Road and another office in Fairfield.

The company provides both prosthetics to replace a missing body part, like a leg or arm, and orthotics, or braces to support or correct a body part.

Anyone suffering from diabetes, a stroke or other injury may need an orthotic, Eckhart said. People with multiple sclerosis or cerebral palsy may require braces to help them move, decrease pain or improve stability.

A diabetic often looses sensation in their feet, needing specially fit shoes, or sometimes amputation, which would require a prosthetic. Seventy percent of all amputations are diabetes or vascular related, said Eckhart. Car accidents and war victims make up only 30 percent of prosthetic users.

While most newer veterans needing prosthetics or orthotics are treated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C., the business does work with some older veterans from World War II, Vietnam and Korea, like Stanley.

On a recent morning, Stanley’s prosthetic limb wearing a gray sock and size 13 black shoe stood on a workbench in the Beard Road office lab. Scuffed and worn, the leg also displayed a Marine Corps sticker on the faux calf.

Prosthetic technology has come a long way since Stanley got his first artificial limb, one of eight he’s had during his 55 years as an amputee. The vet’s first limb “was horrible,” he said.

“It was crude compared to now. I could hardly walk in it. They’ve come a long way.” Even though he’s getting a replacement, Stanley’s not asking for anything too fancy. “I don’t want to get one of those with springs. I just want to walk.”

Using plaster of paris, Eckhart and Bright first make a mold of Stanley’s existing limb. Then, using an industrial oven to heat a sheet of plastic, a test socket of the prosthesis will be formed using a vacuum. After a check for pressure points and fit, Eckhart will then make the finished leg with carbon fiber woven fabric coated with epoxy resin resulting in a strong and lightweight prosthesis.

Not only will his new leg will fit Stanley better, it should also weigh about half a much as the current leg, which Stanley estimated at 25 lbs.

Old-fashioned peg legs are definitely a thing of the past when it comes to making prosthetics. Today, even the heavier plastics of five and 10 years ago are being replaced with carbon fibers and acrylic resins, titanium and aluminum, along with built-in microprocessors that tell a joint when to flex, lock in place and how quickly to move.

Getting a prosthetic to fit correctly is a challenge, said Eckhart.

“It’s almost like getting the front end alignment of a car correct, you have to get the alignment (of a prosthesis) right.”

Napa Valley Prosthetics and Orthotics also sells orthopedic supplies for ankles, neck, knees, hips, feet and shoes for diabetics besides pregnancy support bands. An industrial sewing machine allows the two to customize any orthotic for the right fit.

This is the first small business enterprise for both Eckhart and Bright. The two met while working for another prosthetic and orthotic company in Napa County. Opening an office in Napa was important to them. “We want to be part of the local community,” said Eckhart.

Eckhart, 39, who previously managed a retirement home, said he made his career change because he wanted, “to work with people and my hands again. Everything we do in this business is custom made. We are always working with new people. They become friends. Especially the amputees. You work with them for a long time — it’s like going to the same hairdresser — except we’re the leg guys.”

Stanley, who lives in Benicia, said he chose Napa Valley Prosthetics and Orthotics to make his new limb because, “I liked the way Kyle conducted himself,” said Stanley. “I liked his education and things he presented — new legs, new ideas, new methods. He’s been great in answering a lot of questions.”

He’s ready to get his leg back. “It’s always a good conversation piece,” Stanley said. And besides, “I’m anxious to get walking again.”

Will Stanley put the Marine Corps sticker back on his new leg?“If there’s a spot I’ll put it on.”

Friday, November 09, 2007

Amputees push for better private care


USA... is the 800-pound gorilla in the industry that designs, builds and fits custom-made prosthetics and orthotics, which are braces of some kind. ...