Leslie Pitt Schneider was just 6 years old when she began using her prosthetic leg. Her journey – starting as a child in the rural community of New Ulm, Minn., through the accident that resulted in loss of her leg and into an active adulthood – is the subject of Ottobock’s new film, “Limitless.”
The film debuted this month at the ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival in Minneapolis.
Schneider, who has skied competitively and worked as a nurse, now works in Ottobock’s legal department and mentors other people who use prosthetics.
“Creating the Limitless film was really about capturing a unique story that would have meaning and inspiration for others, not necessarily because of Leslie’s achievements, but because she is living the life she chose,” says Karen Lundquist, Ottobock’s director of North America communications and narrator of the film. “Not everyone will be a super athlete or have the desire for daring expeditions, but many understand the impact on quality of life that comes from sources of support such as family and the medical community.”
In the 11-minute film, members of Schneider’s family are shown, and she visits her original prosthetist, Steve Amundson, who was at that time relatively new to the profession. He began working with Schneider while she was still in the hospital and eventually taught her to walk again.
“I think Leslie was his first pediatric patient,” says Schneider’s mother, Carol.
“He really held my hand through my initial steps in this limb loss journey,” Schneider says. She recalls looking for the first time at her prosthetic leg and thinking, as a 6-year-old, that it looked like a Barbie doll’s foot.
In the film, Schneider says to Amundson, “You always taught me to articulate what it was I didn’t like. And for a 6-, 8-, 10-year-old kid, that was hard to do.”
Talking about a successful prosthetist-consumer relationship, Amundson says, “I think you have to listen to the patient, number one. The thing I always say to amputees is ‘You’re an amputee, but the only thing you have in common with another amputee is that you are.’ Otherwise, everyone is so individual.”
“It is he who taught me to advocate for yourself,” Schneider later says. “You don’t have live with pain, you don’t have to live with being uncomfortable.”
Ottobock is a major sponsor of ReelAbilities, described as the largest film festival in the country devoted to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives and stories of people with different disabilities. The festival debuted in New York in 2007.
“It is so important for people, friends and family who are coping with or facing limb loss to be able to hear other people’s stories, and Ottobock is honored to help achieve that,” Lundquist added.