Every professional athlete has a coach, trainers and medical specialists focused on ensuring that he or she is fully prepared and set up to succeed. More than one Paralympian has all of that and more – the more being John Angelico, CP, FAAOP, their prosthetist.
Swimmer Amy Chapman, who suffers from a genetic illness that claimed her legs as an infant, turned to Angelico after moving to the Chicagoland area as a child and never looked back. At the other end of the spectrum is gold medal-winning Paralympian Meg Fisher, a former competitive collegiate tennis player. Fisher lost the lower half of her left leg in a car accident yet wound up becoming a six-time world champion paratriathlete and cyclist.
“When Meg asked me if she was going to be able to do everything she had done before I fit her for these new prostheses, I told her that she could but that she would need to make modifications, and it wouldn’t be the same,” said Angelico. He tells Meg’s story to illustrate the challenges he and his team face daily to help patients achieve their goals of returning to their lives.
As a prosthetics examiner for ABC since 2005, Angelico invests extra time into putting test-takers at ease. It pays off when he sees the relief on their faces and hears from them personally that the effort made a difference. In addition to serving as an examiner, Angelico has been a member of the Prosthetic Exam Committee for the past two years.
It doesn’t stop there for Angelico. His company, Scheck & Siress, is the oldest clinical care partner of the Range of Motion Project (ROMP). This volunteer partnership has taken him to Guatemala, Haiti and Ecuador, where John provides prosthetic care and ROMP supplies prostheses and orthoses to those who do not have access to critical O&P services. “The most important thing for these individuals is providing the best care without all the worries about the paperwork,” said Angelico, who reflects that it is reminiscent of practicing in “the old days”.
His work with children in Central and South America has been recognized not only by ROMP but by Hearts in Motion. At the end of the day, it’s the children that give Angelico some of his greatest joys as a practitioner. Seeing a child’s face when they first get up on their prosthesis? “A wonderful experience,” he exclaims.