LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A southern Indiana woman who lost parts of both legs while protecting her two children from a tornado received her first prosthetic leg on Wednesday, exactly two months after she was injured.
"It's a good anniversary," Stephanie Decker said after being fitted for an artificial right leg at Kentucky Prosthetics and Orthotics in in Louisville.
With her husband Joe at her side, she practiced standing, walking and turning while using parallel bars for support. She told The Courier-Journal that it "felt great" to be walking.
Decker, who arrived in a wheelchair, acknowledged some discomfort getting used to the fit of the prosthetic, saying: "I've been sitting in this chair for two months." She is expecting to receive a prosthetic for her left leg.
A tornado that hit March 2 demolished her family's former home in Henryville, about 20 miles north of Louisville. She had wrapped her two children in a blanket in the basement and blocked debris from striking them. Her right leg was amputated below the knee and her left leg above the knee. She had a skin graft last week on her left leg.
Decker will spend the coming days practicing standing and walking on the leg while using the wheelchair at other times.
Decker could be fitted for the other prosthetic in the coming weeks, said Matthew Hayden, an artificial limb specialist working with her. He was impressed with her resilient attitude.
"Nothing's stopping her now," he said.
Decker is benefitting from advances in high-technology prosthetics developed in recent years through military-backed research in response to the significant numbers of amputees from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Decker said she's grateful for the advances.
"It's hard work," she said of the therapy, but added: "It's my freedom. I'm getting some of my life back."
The Deckers now live in Sellersburg, returning to a home they had vacated and rented out after moving to nearby Henryville.