New Legs Give Student the Power to Compete
By: Stacy Tintocalis, Freelance Writer
Athletic prosthetic legs have given twelve-year-old Katie Henry a competitive edge.
“Katie has gone through so many sets of legs that I’ve lost
count,” her physical therapist, Bethany Underwood, said. Underwood
has seen Katie Henry weekly since Katie was three.
Katie has had the same physical therapist for nine years. Underwood has
seen her grow up.
“That’s what continuum of care is all about at Ozarks Medical
Center,” says Pam Ream, Director of OMC Rehabilitation Services.
“It’s about neighbors caring for neighbors throughout their
lifetime. If Katie lived in a big city, where employee turnover is high,
Katie might have gone through six physical therapists by now.”
Katie is now an active pre-teen and uses special athletic legs, so she
can cheerlead and play softball. “Gymnastics tear up her regular
prosthetic legs almost monthly,” Underwood explained. Katie goes
through legs quickly because she’s so athletic. She either breaks
them or grows out of them.
Katie’s journey began when she was born without tibias. She could
only crawl by dragging her legs behind her. Doctors amputated her legs
below the knee, so she could be fitted for her first set of prosthetic
legs. “Katie doesn’t remember a time that she had legs,”
Eventually Katie needed athletic legs to participate in sports. The athletic
legs are springy and scoop-shaped, which throws Katie off balance. During
physical therapy at Ozarks Medical Center, Underwood helps Katie adjust
to the difference between the athletic and regular prosthetic legs. “You
get different feedback from normal prosthetic legs,” Underwood explained.
“It’s hard to transition to the athletic legs and get used
Prosthetic legs have been expensive. Initially the annual OMC Docs vs.
Jocks basketball challenge and the Zechman family helped fund her procedures
and legs. While Medicaid now pays for her regular legs, the athletic legs
have required a grant as well as funds from the Jonesboro Prosthetic &
“The most exciting thing about the athletic legs is how much Katie’s
speed has increased,” Underwood said. “The possibilities are
endless. A lot of sports don’t allow for the old prosthetics due
to injuries. The athletic legs are approved by sports.”
“Katie has always competed in special needs gymnastics. And years
ago, she would dance her heart out to the hip hop song ‘Get Low,’”
Underwood said. “Now she’s competing in sports not as special
What’s amazing is that Underwood may see Katie dance at her prom
and compete in college athletic events. “Many physical therapists
at OMC have decades-long relationships with their patients,” Ream
explained. “Friends come and go, but a patient at OMC might have
the same doctor and physical therapist their entire life.”
Pictured left to right: Michael Dickens, Patient Care Advocate, Jonesboro
Prosthetic & Orthotic; Katie Henry; Bethany Underwood, Physical Therapist,
OMC Rehabilitation Services; and Cyle Gates, Director of Clinical Operations,
Jonesboro Prosthetic & Orthotic.