Helping amputees achieve their potential - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Helping amputees achieve their potential

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

It's a special place that helps people of all ages literally get back on their feet. A Step Ahead Prosthetics in Hicksville, Long Island, customizes prosthetics for people from all over the world.

There are cosmetic ones made to mimic actual skin and lightweight "blades" made of carbon graphite designed for running.

"It is amazing to how far we have come -- to the point of the intimacy of the fit, the comfort level, function level," said Erik Schaffer, the owner. "Being able to take amputees not only into marathon but ultramarathon, running 100-mile races through the desert, uphill."

Schaffer gave us a tour of the facility.

"Right now we're in the fabrication section of my prosthetic lab," he said. "This is where we design and fabricate and do all the structural work and modify the molds to fit the prostheses."

"A lot of prosthetists love to say no and tell you what you can't do," said Aviva Drescher of "The Real Housewives of New York City." "Erik tells you what you can do."

Drescher wears a prosthetic. When she was 6, she lost part of her leg in a farm accident and had to learn to walk and run again.

"I didn't know what my future would be," Drescher said. "I didn't know if I would be able to have children. If any man would love me. If I would be able to run or play sports. I learned it on my own."

Now Drescher spends a lot of her time with her One Step Ahead Foundation meeting others with similar challenges.

With the help of his prosthetics, 16-year-old Robert Berger became a track and field star.

"I've got very close friends and good friends who don't look into that really," Berger said. "They see me as Robert. They don't see me as the freak kid with one leg."

When Drescher found out that some victims of the Boston Marathon bombings lost limbs, she knew she wanted to meet them.

"I watched them laying in their hospital bed thinking their life is never going to be the same," she said. "And I told them their life would be the same."

One of the women Drescher met was Heather Abbott.

"Heather's leg was mangled beyond repair. So she was given the choice -- you can either not walk -- or you can amputate your leg," Drescher said. "She chose to amputate to have better function and lead a normal life."

Drescher said she and heather have formed a lasting friendship over the past year. And a step ahead even donated a prosthetic to heather.

"She was really brave to get out and speak for everybody and to show that evil did not prevail on that terrible day," Drescher said. "That she was strong and she was standing -- she was Boston strong."

With the advancements in prosthetics, Drescher said the possibilities of living a great life even in the face of adversity are endless.

"My greatest message is that you're going to be okay. And you'll be better than okay," Drescher said. "You'll be functional -- and you'll have some scars that will give you depth of character. And the life you have after going through trials and tribulations is a life with more quality."

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