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Standing on two good legs

Hugo Storer

High-tech limbs approximate bone, muscle

September 4, 1996
Web posted at: 7:50 a.m. EDT

From Correspondent David George

ATLANTA (CNN) -- Hugo Storer has two good legs -- the left one is powerful, the right one merely strong.

As a teen-ager, Storer was on of the best young athletes in his native Puerto Rico. He was on the national junior volleyball team and was set to attend college on an athletic scholarship, until he lost his leg in an accident at age 19.

"It was my last year on the national junior team," Storer recalls.

movie icon But it wasn't his last year as a athlete. Hugo Storer simply switched sports -- to shot-putting, which, like volleyball, is best done on two feet. (5 sec./472K QuickTime movie)

"The power comes from the legs," he says, "70 percent, I guess."

Storer sitting down

And for a right-handed shot-putter like Storer, most of that power comes from the right leg -- the leg he doesn't have.

He competed in two Paralympic Games on one leg, but in Atlanta he used a short prosthesis made especially for shot-putting.

Such high-tech limbs cost from $12,000 to $20,000. Not everyone can afford them, and not every insurance company will foot the bill.

"At times, I feel the patient is compromised because of insurance coverage," says certified prosthetist Catherine Mize.

But Storer has his state-of-the-art limb, and his career as a school teacher, and his sporting avocation. Plus, he's just gotten married.

His wife, Loretta, says she likes her new husband's attitude.

"He enjoys every day to the fullest that he can," she says.

Old prosthesis

Barring monetary concerns, technology has given every amputee a shot at enjoying every day to the fullest.

"They're able to do things they weren't able to do before," says Laura Mengwasser of the Easter Seal Society.

Older prostheses, she says, often weren't conducive to everyday use. The new ones are, she says, "and it's their leg. There's not much difference."

But for Hugo Storer and others like him, it's all the difference in the world.

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