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Former Raider Otto Describes Life after Amputation

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While an amputation due to trauma is on everyone’s mind after the tragedy in Boston, diabetes and vascular disease – connected to smoking – are two more common reasons why people lose limbs.

Even with the dramatic losses yesterday, some of those folks could be up and starting to walk on a prosthetic in just ten weeks.

Anyone can have a tough day at gym, but 38 years after retiring from the Oakland Raiders, Hall of Famer Jim Otto is training his body to work with his right leg – his prosthetic right leg.

“Those chips control the length of my stride and what I do as I walk. They also prevent me from falling down,” said Otto.

Repeated football injuries earned Otto an artificial knee.

Then, almost six years ago, repeated rounds of infection had done their worst. He was told lose your leg or possibly your life.

He chose to live.

“I’m not the type of guy that wants somebody to feel sorry for me.  I’ll do whatever. I’ll go to war if I have to to live,” said Otto.

Though he knows it’s easier said than done.

For the Boston victims, he says no is no time for despair.

“I’ve done a lot since I’ve had my leg amputated.  I’ve been to the Arctic Circle. I’ve been in all types of venues…I like to hunt,” he said.

Otto works with Julie Gross Northern California’s most specialized physical therapist in prosthetics, at the amputee clinic at UC Davis Medical Center.

“Typically with a trauma event, as soon as the residual limb is completely healed and the stitches are out, they can start the fitting process. It comes back in such a rewarding and such an overwhelmingly happy event when people learn to walk again,” said Gross.

Once he was fitted for his new leg and it arrived, Jim Otto says it only took him about three days to feel comfortable walking on it.

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