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Boating Accident Survivor to Throw Ceremonial First Pitch at Dodgers Game Thanks to Robotic Feet
Bilateral leg amputee, Mark Andersen will walk to center field in a state-of-the-art pair of Ottobock Meridium® microprocessor prosthetic feet.
Los Angeles, CA – April 30, 2019 - A minor miracle will occur at Dodgers Stadium on May 6, 2019: a man you don’t know will stand center field and the crowd will go wild. That man, Mark Andersen, lost his legs in a boating accident 18 years ago. This May when the L.A. Dodgers meet the Atlanta Braves, he’ll walk out onto the field, securely plant a pair of robotic feet, and throw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Three weeks ago—while waiting to see his prosthetist Donald F. Newton, CPO at Achilles Prosthetics and Orthotics in Santa Maria, CA—Anderson had no idea this was coming. That day, he thought he was just there to check the fit of his newly outfitted Ottobock Meridium Feet, ones that came with sockets he’d had customized with a Dodgers motif. Instead, he was surprised by six family members, a cake, and a letter from the Dodgers, officially inviting him to throw out the first pitch.
Keith Severson, who is head of marketing and patient services at Achilles, had conspired with Newton and Anderson’s daughter Megan to make this day happen. When Severson saw the Dodgers emblems on Anderson’s legs, an idea was born. “I thought wouldn't it be cool to do something with the Dodgers where he could be celebrated.”
Eighteen years ago, a motor boat had accidentally reversed over Andersen, and he’d had to have both legs amputated below the knee. Since then he has demonstrated unflagging perseverance. “He's amazingly positive,” says Newton. “He's come to the conclusion that losing his legs is not a negative. He’s extremely active. He doesn't really let anything slow him down.”
When the time came to replace his prosthetics a few months ago, Newton recommended Anderson go with Ottobock’s Meridium microprocessor feet. “We always try to upgrade or use the latest componentry, especially with somebody who's such a good walker,” says Newton. “He was ready for new prostheses on both of his limbs, so we went with the Meridium.”
The Meridium is more than just a prosthetic foot, it is a symbol of the intelligent-design era we are now in — thanks to the development of microprocessing technology. “We have truly entered into a digital age, and the microprocessor is the engine of that digital age,” says Steve Thurber, a professor of computer engineering, in his overview of microprocessors. Microprocessors run many of the objects we use in our daily lives from our smartphones and tablets to our dishwashers. With nearly 2 million people living with limb loss in the United States, they are also being utilized increasingly in prosthetic devices like the Meridium.
Newton says that the Meridium is the closest the industry has come to the human foot. The prosthesis is engineered to control movement at a multi-axis ankle joint, midfoot, and toe, and to adapt to subtle changes in user speed and ground conditions in real time. Dynamic hydraulic control at the ankle provides greater ground contact and stability.
“I'm still learning with them,” says Andersen. “But the things that they do are unmatched. You can feel it adjusting to the terrain wherever you're going. It's pretty amazing.” For anyone who is thinking about getting the Ottobock Meridiums, Anderson says, “Don’t think. Get them.”
To learn more about how Ottobock’s Meridium works so well on a wide variety of surfaces, watch this video. You can also call the team at Ottobock US at 800 328 4058 or email USCustomerService@ottobock.com to learn more.