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Bomb survivor's new leg perfect fit
Boston Marathon bombing victim Heather Abbott watches carefully as Matthew Albuquerque, president of Next Step Bionics and Prosthetics, examines the two prosthetic covers that Abbott has been getting used to -- one for everyday use, and a waterproof version. The four-inch, high-heel shoe in the foreground was used to shape a mold for her newest and most lifelike cover. (DAVE SOLOMON/UNION LEADER)
Television crews and reporters from throughout New England were on hand to witness the fitting, shaping and refitting of the foam cover that will be used by technicians at Dorset Orthopedic in England to sculpt a block of silicone into a prosthetic covering that mirrors Abbott's biological leg.
"It's considered cosmetic, a luxury, unfortunately," Albuquerque said, "but for someone like Heather, it's not a luxury, it's what she always had."
Abbott, 38, works in human resources for Raytheon at offices in Portsmouth, R.I., and recently returned to work part-time.
She was poised and showed no difficulty walking as she entered the exam room at Next Step to be measured and fitted by Dave Newman, production supervisor.
After a series of measurements, Newman took the foam cover to a small machine shop to shave and shape it to the precise form, after which Abbott stood for another round of testing in 4-inch heels. In all, she spent about two hours at the Manchester office, until Newman and Albuquerque were convinced they had the exact model needed for shipping to England. The finished product is expected back in a month or two.
Next Step is working with seven of the 16 bombing victims who lost a limb.
That persistence was on display recently when Abbott used a water-proof prosthetic covering to do some paddle-boarding. As she gets more comfortable with the prosthetic limb, she is anxious for the lifelike covering to arrive.
"I had my first experience with having an exposed leg while paddle-boarding, and even though the covering I have is flesh-colored and somewhat cosmetic, it's not like the leg I am getting. I'll feel more comfortable with something that is not as recognizable."
Insurance companies have promised that all survivors will have all the care they need, according to the Washington Post, but time will tell.