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High tech meets human touch

  • 3 min to read

Upon visiting www.dankmeyer.com for the first time, the word "modern" comes to mind.

The interactive website for Dankmeyer Prosthetics & Orthotics provides detailed information and a virtual visit to the company, which is headquartered in a 15,000 square-foot state-of-the-art facility in the greater Baltimore area and specializes in prosthetic and orthotic needs.

Dankmeyer.com also reaches potential clients via social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and includes links to various online magazine and newspaper articles about the company.

The website discusses the program “e-NABLE,” described as “A Global Network Of Passionate Volunteers Using 3D Printing To Give The World A Helping Hand."

But while the company’s use of technology is impressive, Dankmeyer’s success revolves around a more emotional and human connection.

“This is the only (prosthetics) place I’ll go,” said Diane Clark, a longtime patient at Dankmeyer.

Over 25 years ago on a wintery day in Terra Alta, West Virginia, her life changed forever.

“There was a car accident and I was getting out of my car,” Clark said. “The icy roads caused a woman to slide into me as I was getting out.”

Clark said she went into shock and was flown to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia via medavac.

“When I woke up, I remember being at the hospital and the doctors weren't telling me much at first,” she said. “Eventually they told me that they would have to amputate my right leg, then do whatever they can to save the left leg.”

At that point, Clark's family hadn't arrived at the hospital, so she had to make the decision on her own about the loss of her leg.

“I told the doctors to do whatever they needed to do,” said Clark.

The surgeons were able to save her left leg, but removed her right below the knee.

Clark recalled when she awoke from surgery and was surrounded by family members, who were crying.

“I told them not to cry – I'm still here and everything will be okay,” she said. “I could've been worse. I could've been paralyzed.”

At the time of the accident, Clark had two daughters – ages 6 and 3.

“I knew that I had to stay strong for them,” Clark said and added she hasn't let her injury hold her back in life.

“It has made me so much stronger," she said. “It has made me more active because I have determination to end up doing more than what I used to do.”

One year after her accident, she gave birth to her son.

Today, in addition to her three children, Clark's family includes eight grandchildren.

Clark said it took her between six and 12 months to adjust to living with a prosthesis.

She had problems with her first artificial limb.

That's when she found Dankmeyer and met Mark Treasure.

Treasure is a prosthetist at Dankmeyer's Cumberland-based office where he has worked with Clark for over 20 years.

Treasure praised Clark and her resilient effort to live life to the fullest.

“I call her 'the undercover prosthetic,'" said Treasure. “She tells people that she has a prosthetic and people never believe her.”

“She is quite the inspiration to others,” he said.

Treasure said Clark's prosthetic leg has a hard finish to suit her active lifestyle, which includes line dancing and working out at the gym. She also rides as a passenger with her husband on a motorcycle and works as an activities assistant at Frostburg Nursing Rehab Center.

Treasure said technology has helped Dankmeyer grow over the years.

Dankmeyer was founded in 1954 by Charles “Herb” Dankmeyer, who was a bilateral below-the-knee amputee. He founded the company to “provide prostheses and orthoses to patients in Maryland and nearby communities,” according to dankmeyer.com.

“The practice developed and has maintained an excellent reputation throughout the community and has relationships with all of the medical teaching institutions in the area as well as most of the private hospitals and insurers," the website states. "The practice was founded on the principle of being sensitive to the needs of the community and providing services to meet those needs.”

The local Dankmeyer office used to be located on Baltimore Pike but in 1981 moved to its current location, 147 National Highway, where Treasure has been a practitioner since then.

Treasure is also part of the clinic team at the Veterans Administration in Martinsburg.

William McGregor, 71, was in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1966 to 1988 and served two tours in Vietnam, where he said he was exposed to Agent Orange – a defoliant chemical used by the U.S. military during the conflict.

He said the chemical caused him to develop cancer in his right leg, which required the surgical removal of his quadriceps and surrounding nerves.

Radiation therapy followed, McGregor lost much use of his right leg and today requires an orthotic brace to help him walk.

The brace spans the length of his leg, has a locking mechanism to keep the brace stable and a spring that allows the knee to bend.

Like Clark, McGregor also has a positive outlook on life, which he said he's blessed to spend with his wife Irene.

“I'm very fortunate to have her in my life,” said McGregor, who has been married to Irene for 46 years. The couple have three children, four grandkids and two great-grandchildren.

“Regardless of my time in the military and what my experience caused me, I don't have any regrets. … I'll always be a Marine," McGregor said and added the local Veterans Administration and its volunteers helped him recover from his surgery. "(I) couldn't ask for anything more.”

McGregor said Treasure is a "godsend."

“Not only is (Treasure) great at his job, but you can tell that he truly cares about his patients,” McGregor said. “He lightens patients' days.”

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