Yvonne Llanes: Double Above-Knee Amputee Leaves Her Wheelchair Behind and Adjusts to Life with Prosthetics

Yvonne Llanes at BAKA Bootcamp Hanger Clinic

Nearly 10 years after losing her legs in a tragic car accident, a promise made to her ailing father motivated Yvonne Llanes to use prosthetic legs and leave her wheelchair behind for good.

In the blink of an eye, Yvonne Llanes’ life changed forever when she lost both legs in a tragic accident. Over the years (9 years and 7 months to be exact), she learned to cope with her physical and emotional trauma by finding comfort in the one thing she could trust to keep her safe—her wheelchair.

In the beginning, Yvonne only left her chair for transfers and physical therapy sessions. But after a long and winding road, she decided to make a change—to get prosthetic legs. Her reason: she didn’t want people to know she was a bilateral above-knee amputee. Even though she was still confined to her wheelchair, she found confidence in knowing she could finally “look whole.”

This was when Yvonne’s journey led her to Hanger Clinic, where she was fitted with prosthetics and introduced to someone who would eventually change her life—Hanger Clinic Social Worker Mona Patel.

At first, Yvonne wore her prosthetics situationally while still relying heavily on her wheelchair, and Mona was by her side every step of the way.

Yvonne Llanes and Mona Patel

She didn’t judge me or discourage me. Instead, she mentored me, took me under her wing and filled me with motivation.

Yvonne Llanes

Then, a miracle happened. Yvonne found herself slowly trying to get out of her chair. She went to physical therapy, used crutches and canes, but ultimately, kept returning to her “comfort zone,” her wheelchair.

It was then that a series of perfect and unfortunate events culminated at the same time. Yvonne’s father got very sick and made her promise she would get out of her chair, while Mona suggested she attend Hanger Clinic’s Bilateral Above-Knee Bootcamp, so she could see firsthand people like her “walking, living their life, and doing normal, everyday things.”

The Bootcamp was just what Yvonne needed to take the leap of faith and become a full-time prosthetic user. Until that time, she had seen several prosthetic success stories, but they were often one limb or below-knee amputees. She needed to see someone who was just like her.

Since making that fateful decision to move forward three years ago, Yvonne hasn’t slowed down. She’s put in a lot of hard work and wants people to know her success didn’t happen overnight.

In hopes of educating others about what to expect in the years following the decision to become a full-time double above-knee prosthetic user, she describes her personal journey:

Year One

“I solely focused on walking and keeping my balance. I practiced walking and then stopping, standing without falling over and talking to someone while standing still.”

Year Two

“I worked on walking on uneven surfaces (grass, ramps, stairs).”

Year Three

“My confidence was growing, so I started to revisit the activities I once loved. I rediscovered my love of sports—swimming, powerlifting, going to the gym—and got more involved in my community and with Hanger activities.”

Today

“I’m still working on more advanced abilities—steep hills and inclines are a challenge and going up and down stairs are a work in progress. But, I’ve never been more motivated.”

When you decide to move forward, it’s a lot of hard work. But nothing is impossible once you find your motivation.

Yvonne Llanes

See Yvonne on ABC World News Tonight

In 2017, ABC World News Tonight featured Yvonne’s inspiring story.

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