Adaptive Journeys working to reach out to those with a limb difference in Santa Clarita

Amputees Eileen Pasternak, left, and Kristin Mello discuss Mello's multi-articulating hand that she controls with her arm muscles during a break at the Adaptive Journeys: Amputee Support Group's monthly meeting which was held at Henry Mayo and Fitness Center in Valencia on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal
As a way to help amputees living in Santa Clarita or around Los Angeles County, Adaptive Journeys held its monthly meeting at Henry Mayo Fitness and Health on Saturday. Jim von Normann founded the group in 2017 after attending multiple support groups and conferences, such as the Amputee Coalition national conference. Following a collision with a drunk driver resulting in months of surgery with multiple infections, he decided to amputate the limb and devote himself to building up resources and shape relationships as he described, an “adaptive dude.” “I traveled there because I needed to see other amputees and I found what was very important to me, which was hope,” he said. The coalition worked to provide peer visitor training for the group. Adaptive Journeys consists of eight peer visitors, accounting for 20 percent of California’s total number of peer visitors for amputee support groups. A second training session is scheduled for April. Typical meetings go over need-to-know materials for amputees to help provide resources and information about local events, such as the Exercise Community Living in Prosthetics and Supporting Everyone (ECLIPSE) symposium at California State University Northridge. “It’s just a matter of finding the catalyst for each individual person to allow them the dignity to find their own path,” von Normann said. “That’s what we found, by working together in a group setting, we can break down a lot of barriers that we would be stuck against solo. When we can come together, we can find that each time that we meet, people have gained momentum on their individual journeys, thus adaptive journeys.” Lauren Palermo, one of Adaptive Journeys’ earliest members, said being with other amputees was empowering. She walks with C-Leg, which holds a computer that monitors her movement with the help of a microprocessor that emulates natural walking.
Quadruple amputee Alan Cronin, left, and above-the-knee amputee Lauren Palermo discuss Palermo’s prosthetic limb during a break at the Adaptive Journeys: An Amputee Support Group’s monthly meeting which was held at Henry Mayo and Fitness Center in Valencia on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal
“It brings joy to your life,” she said about Adaptive Journeys. “It makes you feel (like you’re) part of something.” Adaptive Journeys welcomes people with a limb difference, or a residual limb caused by a medical condition or amputation. Physicians or prosthetists, or those who specialize in prosthetics, who are interested in attending future meetings can reach out at info@adaptivejourneys.org and will be accepted with an invitation only. To learn more about meeting information, go to adaptivejourneys.org or its Facebook page. “If you or someone that you know is living with a limb difference, we invite that limb different person and their support to our table to meet with us on a monthly basis,” von Normann said.

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About the author

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini

Ryan Mancini covers local news for The Signal. He joined in 2018, previously working as a reporter and editor for The Sundial, Scene Magazine and El Nuevo Sol while a student at California State University, Northridge, where he studied journalism and political science. He's lived in Santa Clarita since 2002.