JAN STOKOSA, CP, FAAOP
I want to make the maximum contribution to the QUALITY of LIFE of each amputee I care for.
I started in private practice with my father in 1969 after graduating first in my class from Northwestern University’s first graduating class of the Prosthetics Practitioner Program. My initial practice profile was that of general Prosthetic Clinical care, treating both upper and lower extremity amputations.
I was one of the first practitioners in Michigan to fit an arm amputee with myoelectronic prosthesis – this was done following the amputation of his hand – when he woke up after surgery, he was able to operate an electronic hand.
Over the years my interest moved toward the lower extremity. Today I specialize in the transtibial level of amputation. I have pioneered many procedures in lower extremity prosthetic fitting, and have written and lectured extensively on this subject.
My father initiated my experience in Prosthetics at the age of 7. He taught me anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, materials technology, simple engineering, problem solving using various systematic approaches.
I worked with him closely as his assistant, and as I grew older was given more and more responsibility. I performed all the laboratory fabricating procedures for his patients. I began fitting in my teen years under his extremely close supervision.
After becoming a Certified Prosthetist I continued to work with my father until his death. In 1974 I moved the practice to Lansing, Michigan.
INSTITUTE FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF PROSTHETICS
In 1978, Bill Barr and I founded the Institute for the Advancement of Prosthetics (IAP) in Lansing, Michigan. A brief history behind this founding of the Institute revolves around Bill Barr, a successful businessman, who had been an Illinois State Representative, and had served an appointed position, by President Truman, as Rent Control Officer for the United States.
Barr was a victim of an intentional car bombing. He survived the bombing, but lost his right leg. For seven years following the amputation Barr suffered pain in his residual-limb. Most of the pain he experienced was while wearing his prosthesis. Medical doctors and psychiatrists evaluated his condition and concluded that the socket of the prosthesis was the main cause of his problems. Barr traveled throughout the United States seeking relief, in search of a comfortable, stable prosthesis that would allow him to carry on his personal activities of daily living.
I had recently begun a consulting position to a private clinic in Chicago and saw Representative Barr. Through a series of diagnostic test sockets I designed a socket for him that, in his words, “removed 90% of his pain” when he had the prosthesis on. Following through with the fitting process, optimizing biomechanical alignment with hydraulic knee control and multiaxial ankle/foot, he was able to resume all his business and leisure activities. He was very thankful and simultaneously curious of how I did what I did for him, when all the other doctors, physical therapists, and prosthetists, could not.
Our relationship developed to our mutual interest to improve the prosthetic care to amputees by creating a nonprofit “Institute for the Advancement of Prosthetics” with a mission to provide the maximum possible contribution to the quality of life of the amputee patients we serve, and to advance and influence the field in the areas of clinical research to develop improved socket designs, materials, and to teach the methods I used in fitting him.
STOKOSA PROSTHETIC CLINIC
In 1989 I left IAP and started the Stokosa Prosthetic Clinic in Okemos, Michigan. Our clients all present their own individual prosthetic needs and it's our mission to address them to the best of our ability.
Presently, my practice is directed toward the active, self-motivated person desiring to maximize her/his potential. Many are involved in competitive sports. Many are older but desire to be as active as possible. This means having a prosthesis that is comfortable, stable, light-weight, and efficient in the activities that s/he performs on a regular daily basis.
Most of the people I see are from word-of-mouth referral. Many patients have had previous prosthetic care by other practitioners.
Technologies have evolved a great deal since I became a prosthetist, however, the foundation, principles and values my father taught me continue to be the soul of my practice. He lived by the creed:
The best we have to offer the amputee is none too good. So it behooves us to use all our current talent and knowledge applied to the present; listen to amputees and apply our nature’s innovativeness.
Comfort is #1. If one is comfortable one is able to do whatever one wishes, given willingness to develop alternative means - it then becomes individual - you do what you want to do.
Over the years I have developed many new methods, procedures, and techniques that have allowed patients to return to fully productive lives. Through continued research, experimentation, and creative problem solving, our clinic has developed a particular expertise in responding to the needs of people with “difficult to fit” amputations.