Ability Patient Noah Grove to Compete in the US Paralympics!
When it comes to our patients, Ability firmly believes that each and every individual is outstanding. The stories we hear on a daily basis of perseverance and strength never fail to humble us. So when we learned 18 year old Noah Grove, a long time patient of Ability Prosthetics and Orthotics’ Frederick/Hagerstown offices, was going to the Olympics, you can imagine how proud we were, though not at all surprised!
Grove was diagnosed with osteosarcoma bone cancer just before he turned five. Before he turned six, his left leg was amputated and seven months of chemo followed. Nothing short of resilient, Grove had no plans of sitting still and missing out on what other kids his age were doing. He was wearing a prosthetic, but it wasn’t quite working for him. Wanting their son to have the freedom every little boy should have, Noah’s parents decided to make an appointment with Jeff Quelet, CPO at Ability Prosthetics and Orthotics in hopes he could give Noah a device that would be comfortable and functional.
Being an amputee himself, Jeff was able to relate to Noah. Chris Grove, Noah’s father said, “Jeff was able to relate to Noah in ways even his mom and I couldn’t. We would come to really lean on him.”
This kinship brought with it great communication between patient and prosthetist. When Noah preferred to wear his sock on his stump, even though the suction would be better without it, Jeff saw it as an opportunity to explain to him how much better he would feel without it with words that made sense to a fellow amputee. This was a big hurdle for the Grove family, because now Noah was able to run more comfortably in his leg. He quickly figured out how to not only run, but run a lot on his prosthetic and was playing soccer by the time he was eight! He would continue to dominate the sport, eventually becoming the youngest member of the US National Amputee Soccer team and competed in Mexico at the Amputee Football World Cup at age 15.
Two years before that achievement, at 13 years old, Noah tried sled hockey. His mom had a feeling he would enjoy it, but Noah wasn’t so sure. In fact, he was practically dragged to the event! It peaked his interest, and within a very short time, the whole family was back to watch Noah have his first practice and game (all in the same night). Experiencing the competitive element of the sport and watching the scoreboard sealed the deal; Noah was hooked on sled hockey. He was already setting his sights on the Olympics.
If you, or someone you know, has ever had a prosthetic, you may be questioning how his prosthetic held up with all this activity. Chris says, “We used to get stressed out when we had to call Jeff and tell him we had broken another knee or an ankle wouldn’t stop rotating. But Jeff ‘s response was always, ‘That’s awesome!’ Jeff knew every time Noah broke something or pushed a device too far, it meant the manufacturers would have to make it even better for the next group of athletes. He’s encouraged Noah to be bigger, stronger, faster. To say he’s a ‘huge’ part of this isn’t doing him, Jeff, enough justice.”
Noah will be competing on the US Amputee Sled Hockey team in the Paralympics in just under a week using his Total Knee 2100 by Össur, a high-activity mechanical prosthetic knee. In the past he has also worn a Renegade foot by Freedom Innovations and a carbon socket with a lateral door opening.
Noah arrived in PyeongChang, South KoreaMarch 3rd where he and his team, once they recover from the jet lag, will begin practicing for tournaments beginning March 8. Noah’s parents will be there for the games, cheering him on in person. We hope you’ll join all of us at Ability by cheering him on at home.
Noah’s dad says his son is very even-keeled, and he does think he’s a bit nervous about the games. But, he says, “He shouldn’t be. They’re a team. Everything isn’t just on his shoulders. Either way, I hope he can enjoy it. Not every kid gets to experience the Olympics. I hope he can realize how cool this is.”
The US enters the tournament as the two-time defending champions. They won gold in Sochi 2014 and Vancouver in 2010. For more information on the event, including a detailed schedule, visit http://teamusa.usahockey.com/2018paralympicsledhockey.