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Western New York Man Still Adapting Two Years After Limb Loss

    Getting used to a life without a limb or with a prosthetic limb is tough. Depending on the case, it can take months or years before going back to doing the activities one did before amputation surgery. For James Serafin, who experienced limb loss on April 23, 2022, he is still in the adjustment phase more than two years in.

     Man from Hamburg, New York finds that he's still adjusting to life without a leg two years after limb loss.

    In an interview with Spectrum News, Serafin said it had been a much longer journey than he initially thought. He shared that he felt he would power through it and figure out how to live a new way of life. But, as with most things in life, getting used to the amputee life is a marathon, not a sprint.

    On that fateful day, Serafin, who is based in Hamburg, New York, was involved in a motorcycle accident in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, the accident resulted in severe injuries to his leg, including a cut to his femoral artery, which required amputation. Recovering from this life-changing event has been a learning process for Serafin, as he has had to adjust to accomplishing tasks with one leg, all while dealing with the additional challenge of his other broken leg.

    Following the amputation, Serafin delved into osseointegration, a procedure that attaches a prosthesis directly to the bone in the residual limb.

    Serafin underwent two surgeries at Erie County Medical Center and was among the first patients at the hospital to receive the OPRA Implant System, an osseointegration prosthetic for individuals with above-knee limb loss. Serafin shared that the healing process was painful but found it worthwhile.

    With the implant system, Serafin can now stand for eight hours a day and go to work. He simply puts on the leg in the morning and takes it off when going to bed at night.

    Serafin continues to experience phantom limb pain two years after his amputation. He compares the pain to the feeling of having a displaced ankle. To manage the pain, Serafin uses a device similar to a battery pack that transmits electrical signals along his sciatic nerve.

    Initially, he felt intense pain in his knees and calf. The back of his calf felt like it was engulfed in flames, while the front of his shin felt like it was being struck by a sledgehammer.

    Despite the numerous challenges of losing a leg, Serafin highlighted that maintaining hope and humor were crucial in navigating his journey. He remains focused on the bright side of life. As for the current and future challenges Serafin must deal with, he said, “We’ll figure it out, and we’ll get through it.”