The common image the general public has about people with disabilities is the one presented on TV in entertainment shows featuring a famous person with a disability, or in sports events, or when a “brand-new-super-robotic” device is applied.

In such occasions, the audience is usually presented with an end-result. The success after the storm. Some people may feel inspired, moved, grounded, and even blessed. Despite this, rarely do we see the process: the months, sometimes years of rehabilitation leading to the patient’s new self.

I have had the privilege of working aside hundreds of these patients, seeing this process, and I can’t help but feel an even deeper admiration for them. Silently in my head I draw a parallel between my amazing patients and every other story of a Super-Hero creation. 

These incredible people suffered unexpected and traumatizing events that made them undergo an unbelievably difficult process of reinventing themselves, and came out on the other side with remarkable and special new abilities, both physical and mental. I truly see super-powers developing in my patients that neither I, nor other people around me, have. I am lucky to be a part of this transformation. I feel as being Alfred the Butler helping Batman or even the spaceship that safely brough Superman across the Universe to our planet.

Also in these stories, most people know and can see these heroes, but very few have access or an understanding of the massive struggles, work, failures and persistence, laughter and tears that lead Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent to be able to present themselves as the inspiration people seek.

My patients are my true, real-life, heroes! We work together for months, listening to each other, defining expectations and many times trying things that have never been done before, all to find the suitable cape – the prosthetic, orthotic or other orthopaedic assistive device that fits patients’ abilities, needs and expectations. 

Moreover, we are not finished after that. It is necessarily a lifetime’s work. Working with a Hero using a prosthetic or orthotic device is a continuous work of adjustments, improvements, fixings and revisions because their adventures though life continue to change, putting their assistive devices through all kinds of demands. By then, we are there waiting to be the Sidekick every Hero needs.

And this is why I feel I have the best job in the world!

Working with Human Study has allowed me to teach Sidekicks – prosthetists and orthotists – from all around the world that in their locations are helping Heroes to rise. I have now worked with students from Togo, Malawi, Tunisia, Syria, Egypt, Afghanistan, Jordan, and others. This education has an enormous ripple effect, where one course educates several practitioners who can help hundreds if not thousands of patients.

Instability, poverty and war increases the immediate need for these professionals. At the same time, these patients need care their entire life, which furthermore increases the need for a capable workforce. Sadly, it is where these professionals are most needed that the conditions and means for their education are most lacking.

Human Study developed serious, recognized and accredited educational programs that allow these professionals to further develop their skills in helping these patients. I am extremely blessed to be a part of their team, which is extended to all the students and patients we meet and help.

I guess not all Sidekicks wear capes, but given the resources they can fit thousands of them, and help develop the Heroes we seek and admire.