Phillip Schaengold: Grandfather With Leg Paralysis Enjoys Life With Custom Leg Brace

Phillip Schaengold
September 5, 2019
Hanger Clinic

Seventy year old Phillip had lived his whole life with paralysis in his right leg due to post-polio syndrome, and as a result, experienced numerous falls over the years. After finding Hanger Clinic and getting his custom C-Brace orthosis, he found it easier to enjoy life–walking, traveling, and playing with his grandchildren without the fear of falling.

At the young age of 18 months old, Phillip contracted polio. He overcame the disease, but was left with post-polio syndrome, causing paralysis in his right leg. Although he underwent numerous surgeries, he was still left with very little voluntary muscle ability and limited flexibility in his knee and ankle. As a result of leg weakness, Phillip suffered numerous falls over the years, some of which led to other injuries and surgeries. Despite the constant fear of falling, Phillip stayed active–swimming and golfing, attending college, starting a family, and later serving as CEO for academic medical centers.

The Fall That Necessitated Change

In 2013, Phillip fell and injured himself more severely. His right leg got caught underneath him and he suffered two fractures, which took nearly a year to heal due to post-polio syndrome. During this time, Phillip decided to look for a device to help him avoid future catastrophic falls. That’s when he found Hanger Clinic.

Walking Without Fear

Phillip was fit with a C-Brace orthosis at Hanger Clinic. It became an immediate quality of life enhancement for Phillip. “For the first time in 65 years, I could walk without the fear of falling.” His family noticed a difference, too, especially his wife, Melanie. “For the first 40 years of our marriage, I was always concerned Phillip may fall, walking close by his side with the hope that I could actually prevent my six-foot husband from falling. Now I’m free to enjoy our walks together and no longer worry about Phillip falling with each step.” With his newfound confidence and mobility, Phillip also found it easier to travel and enjoy time with his grandchildren. “I can walk and play with them without the fear of falling. Life has changed for the better. It’s a more relaxed environment for everyone, and I get to really enjoy being a grandpa.”

Teams Who Care

Phillip explains his experience working with the team at Hanger Clinic as outstanding. “I was the first post-polio syndrome patient to be fitted with the C-Brace in the United States. I don’t consider myself to be a small guy, so I put that C-Brace to the test. I was able to walk more naturally and without concern I would fall. I travel frequently and wanted the ability to walk through airports unassisted. The team adjusted the resistance on my brace to make me feel more comfortable on concourse ramps while still being able to walk down stairs. If any issues came up, the Hanger Clinic team was there to make modifications and support me. I recently received the second version of the C-Brace at 70 years old. I love how the teams have taken into account the feedback patients, such as myself, have provided, and continue to improve upon the technology.”

Words of Wisdom

“Living with a physical impairment can affect you negatively and prevent you from enjoying life. Even though I tried to remain active, there were times when I did not want to travel or go on a walk with my family because it was easier for me to just stay home. With a tool like the C-Brace, my life changed. I simply put it on in the morning and go about my day. I might drive, travel on an airplane, play with my grandchildren, practice my golf swing…the possibilities are endless.”

The C-Brace has really improved my mobility and overall quality of life.

Phillip Schaengold

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