- Associated Press - Saturday, August 15, 2015

METAIRIE, La. (AP) - Two months after starting college in August 2004, Brittany Grunberg of LaPlace contracted meningitis and had to have both legs amputated below the knee. The tragic life changing experience, however, didn’t slow her down.

In January 2005 she began walking again with prosthetic legs. Grunberg returned to college and graduated in December 2008 with a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond. In 2009 she returned to school at California State University in Dominguez Hills and earned certification in prosthetics. After a year’s residency, she became a prosthetist in 2011. She got married in 2012. After working for two years in the prosthetic field in the Baton Rouge area, she decided that she wanted to learn more about various prosthetic techniques available to amputees. So, Grunberg traveled to Orlando, Florida, to visit Prosthetic and Orthotic Associates and spent 14 months doing volunteer work there and learning the company’s techniques. Last November Grunberg returned to LaPlace, and she was determined to make a difference in the lives of other amputees.

“My message to amputees would be that anything that you want to do is truly possible if you put your mind to it,” Grunberg, 29, said. “What you have been through or the fact that you wear a prosthetic doesn’t define you; the way that you handle it and move forward truly defines you. With the right prosthesis and the right mindset, you can get back to the life you lived before. I know that my situation has only made me stronger and brought me to places I could have never imagined. There is definitely a positive side to everything, if you’re willing to look for it.”

Grunberg understands firsthand the trials and tribulations amputees face when dealing with an artificial limb. Hoping to help other amputees comfortably and confidently return to their normal lifestyle, Grunberg has opened her own orthotic and prosthetic office, POA of Louisiana, at 1612 Clearview Parkway, in Metairie. She provides custom prosthetic limbs and orthotic appliances.

“I hope to meet many people who are in the same position I once was … and to restore their self-confidence and help them re-gain their independence and mobility,” she said.

For about two years, Grunberg’s mobility was limited because of pain caused by her first prosthetic legs. In 2007, however, she met Stan Patterson, a prosthetist at POA in Orlando. She visited the facility and was fitted with new prosthetics that were much more comfortable than the first.

“They got me back to the person I was before meningitis, and I can only hope to do the same for many others,” Grunberg said. “It’s because of POA that I am even able to start this business and build a place where amputees can go to put their lives back together and be active again.”

Grunberg, a standout softball, basketball and volleyball player in high school at St. Charles Catholic in LaPlace, recently got new running legs and learned how to run. She also learned to play golf this year.

“Life is really good,” she said.

Grunberg attributed her positive outlook to the help and support she has received from POA as well as family and friends.

“The things I have been through has definitely taught me to look for the positive in every situation,” she said. “Though contracting meningitis and losing my legs was a tragic situation in my life, I am beyond thankful for the people it has brought into my life. It has definitely made me stronger in so many ways. But the biggest thing that I would attribute my positive outlook to would have to be the people who got me through the tough times. My mom, dad and sister were by my side for every step of this journey, never making me feel like I was any different. The entire community who came together when I got sick, the people at POA Orlando who took care of me, my husband, my friends, and all the other amputees I’ve met are what gives me a positive outlook. I have so much support, and I am so blessed for that.”

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Information from: The Times-Picayune, http://www.nola.com

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