Unique Program Gives Amputees New Hope for Better Prosthesis
By Scott Maier
Having lost most of his right leg due to a rare nerve tumor, George Kocelj tried several external prostheses without success. For the 54-year-old from Marysville, Calif., the sockets proved to be unworkable, largely confining him to a wheelchair.
Overseeing Kocelj’s tumor treatment was Richard J. O’Donnell, MD, professor of clinical orthopaedic surgery and chief of the Orthopaedic Oncology Service at UCSF Medical Center. Seeing the challenges with a standard device, O’Donnell suggested a revolutionary approach – the Osseoanchored Prosthesis for the Rehabilitation of Amputees (OPRA).
Part of the field more broadly known as osseointegration, the OPRA implant is an alternative to traditional sockets in that the external prosthesis is anchored directly to the patient’s remaining bone through a permanently implanted titanium screw that comes through the skin. Therefore, the prosthesis always attaches correctly, remains firmly in place, and is free from pressure sores, pain, heat, chafing and general discomfort found with traditional solutions.