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Amputee's legacy

Oldham County’s Luckett family
finds success making prosthetics

It started in 1952 with
grandfather’s dream to help others

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (August 2008) – When James H. Luckett lost his right leg below the knee in a rail car accident at age 16, he decided to devote his life to providing quality prosthetic services to others like himself. Since 1952, the Luckett family of Oldham County has continued that dream and turned their business into a lasting tradition that helps patients return to life as they knew it before becoming an amputee.

Tyler and Wayne Luckett

Photo by Helen McKinney

From left, Tyler and Wayne
Luckett operate the family
business in Louisville.

“I see a lot of patients come in riding in a wheelchair. They may feel down on their luck or that their world has collapsed. We get them back on their feet,” said Wayne Luckett, a certified prosthetist and grandson of James H. Luckett.
“My grandfather was my mentor,” said Luckett, a La Grange resident. Luckett has even kept tools he watched his grandfather use to fashion limbs from wood when he was a boy.
His grandfather had been unhappy with the medical treatment he received for his artificial limb. This prompted him to found Falls City Limb & Brace Co., which later changed its name to Louisville Prosthetics. He knew from personal experience that it was extremely important to spend a lot of time with his patients, Luckett said. “Comfort is our goal.”
Luckett said Louisville Prosthetics is different from the competition because it is a family run, family-oriented business. All design, fabrication and fittings are completed on site, which is convenient if a problem should arise. Many patients suffer from vascular disease, motorcycle accidents or diabetes.
Luckett, 45, began working in the business doing small, clean-up jobs when he was in the eighth grade. As he spent more of his summers working in the business, he became more interested in it. Even though he was assigned the menial jobs, “I knew early on exactly what I wanted to do,” he said.
Luckett and his two brothers, Bruce and Chris, earned bachelor’s degrees before entering the prosthetic program at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. All three siblings completed a one-year medical residency and passed board exams to become highly experienced practitioners.

Prosthetics

Photo by Helen McKinney

These are samples of artifical limbs
made by Falls City Limb & Brace Co.

Unlike his eldest son, Wayne, Robert Luckett did not take to the family business as quickly. Robert helped his father around the business in the summer, but years went by and he was in his first year of college at the University of Louisville’s Speed School before deciding this was the career for him.
“Dad was in a bind one summer and asked me if I’d come in and help,” said Robert, a Prospect, Ky., resident. This experience opened his eyes as to what he could do for the rest of his life, and he has been at it full-time since 1960.
“I can’t describe how rewarding it is to help another individual like that,” said Robert. Sons Bruce, Wayne and Chris are in the family business, and his grandson, Tyler, is also contemplating joining the team.
Robert said he prefers to work in the lab, performing the actual fabrication of the prosthetic. “I like the direct contact with the client and meeting their goals.”
Louisville Prosthetics is located close to major hospitals at 742 E. Broadway. Many patients come to feel like extended family because of the care and personal attention they receive.
This makes the road to recovery a little smoother for an amputee, they say. It may take a little extra time for some patients to be back up on their feet, but the end result is very rewarding for the patient as well as the Luckett family.
“Just to see the smile on their face and the mental change of attitude” gives Wayne Luckett the desire to go to work every day. His wife, Laura, is the front office manager, and they also have a daughter, Hannah.
Permanent prosthetic legs have a lifespan of three to seven years, depending upon usage and different factors. Although the legs do not wear out, they may have to be replaced because of changes in a patient’s physical anatomy, such as weight gain or loss.
Services offered by Louisville Prosthetics include partial hand prostheses, swim prostheses, sports prostheses, microprocessor controlled knee units, residual limb shrinkers and clinical evaluations, just to name a few.
There are several stages a patient must go through before receiving a permanent prosthesis. After amputation, a limb shrinker is worn, helping the limb gradually shrink to a conical shape so it will fit more naturally into an artificial limb.
After several months with a temporary prosthesis, a cast is made for a permanent one. This custom-fit prosthesis gives patients the mobility and freedom they once enjoyed and can enjoy again on their own.
The Luckett family’s goal is to provide personalized care that will result in satisfied patient outcome. “We want patients to roll in (in a wheelchair) and walk out,” said Luckett.

• For more information on Louisville Prosthetics, contact the Lucketts at (502) 584-2959 or visit: www.louisvilleprosthetics.com.

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