Innovative Amputee Uses LEGOs to Build New Leg, New Lease on Life

A joke by a colleague inspired a recent amputee to build a LEGO leg, passing up initial ideas for a pirate peg leg and a zombie leg. How’s that for a positive attitude?

Christina Stephens, 31, who lost her left foot in an accident last winter, partnered her lifelong LEGO obsession with her clinical skills as an occupational therapist to help others dealing with amputations. She videoed the “construction” process, put it on YouTube, and it went viral. People love uplifting stories, and this one’s a beaut!

Her childhood was filled with the fun of building castles and pirate ships from the popular toy, and her parents’ basement was filled with all her creations.

Clearly, Stephens has a talent for building and fixing things. Last January, while changing the brake pads on her car in her St. Louis, MO garage, the car slipped off the jack and fell on her left foot. Using a hydraulic jack to lift the car and rescue his wife, Christopher Stephens then rushed his wife to the emergency room. Christina was anticipating little more than a broken foot.

Stephens remembers, “It didn’t look that bad.”

When her toes and other parts of her foot turned gray–and then, black–her surgeon took action. He thought he could save the foot, but, according to Stephens, he couldn’t promise it would be functional.

“He wanted to do a partial foot amputation with multiple skin grafts over my foot and ankle, possible fusions,” she said.

Along with occupational therapy, Stephens is also a clinical researcher at Washington University. Instead of brooding about her fate, Stephens used research to determine whether a damaged foot was preferable to amputation. Though her foot was numb, it was also painful. Because there was a possibility the pain wouldn’t cease if she kept the foot, she opted for amputation.

While musing with her research lab colleagues about the kind of prosthetic leg to choose–a pirate peg leg and a zombie leg were suggested–one of them said she should build one out of LEGOS. What was meant as a joke turned out to be just the inspiration Stephens needed to ignite the Internet!

Petite, energetic, and ever optimistic, Stephens created a series of YouTube videos and launched a Facebook page using the name “AmputeeOT” to begin a dialogue and address issues faced by many new amputees, like phantom pain, swimming with and without a prosthetic, and cleaning the prosthetic liner and amputation site.

“I thought my Legos video had some viral potential but I had no idea it would explode like it did,” Stephens said.

Explode, it did! She hit the heights in social media with the video that shows her constructing her LEGO leg, with more than 1.3 million views to date.

Christina Stephens is proof that girls just wanna have fun! After watching the video, let us know what you’d like to build from a LEGOS box!


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