LAWTON, OK (KSWO) -According to the Amputee Coalition, there are nearly 2 million people living in the U.S. who have had an amputation.
For the people in Southwest Oklahoma who have suffered this loss, there is now somewhere to go, the Southwest Oklahoma Amputee Program or 'SOAP.'
The Southwest Oklahoma Amputee Program is for anyone who has experienced limb loss or will be experiencing it in the future, as well as their family members and care givers. The program was started by two women who wanted to help people who are going through the same loss they already had gone through by sharing their experiences.
"We just felt like there were people out there that needed that back up. You know, just somebody there to say 'Yes it's going to work. Yes it's going to work out,'" said Rhonda Anderson, a program member for the last three years.
Anderson has been going to the Jim Thorpe Rehab Center for the past three years after losing both of her legs in a trucking accident. She hopes people will get a better understanding of prosthetics, daily living and even what a person needs before they have the amputation through the program.
Jim Thorpe recreation therapist Katrina Gamet says having an open environment for people who have lost a limb to talk is very important, because they understand better than anyone else what each other are going through.
"It opens up a whole new line of communication that it's harder for someone who hasn't gone through limb loss to tap into and to be able to bring that out and to just help with the healing process," Gamet said.
Going through limb loss is different for everyone, but Gamet says the person will go through all the stages of grief, sometimes more than once and the whole process may last years. She says some people in the group have had limb loss as recently as the past year, or even in the past five to ten years, and they are still going through that process.
"That's one of the things that's great about this program is that we have some of those individuals that are now able to kind of turn the table around and provide that assistance and that help and support to people who are new to the process," Gamet said.
Anderson is one of those individuals, and she wants to give back by sharing the information she has gained through her journey to those who are just beginning there's.
"I want everyone to know that it doesn't matter where you come from, we are all in the same boat together as amputee to amputees and we want to help you and we want you to help us," Anderson said.
The Southwest Oklahoma Amputee Program meets the third Thursday of every month at 4 p.m. in the Jim Thorpe Rehab Dayroom. For more information, call 580-353-9414.