Standing Tall: Dover-Eyota Teacher Receives Life-Changing Prosthetic

June 12, 2018 11:37 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- If you see someone with a prosthesis, most of the time we never get to know the person behind it. Deb Vosler's story started with a moment that many of us couldn't imagine what the next step would be.

"It was back in 1975. I was playing ball in college and just as I landed on a block, my feet were stable on the ground and one of my teammates hit me from the side and took out both of my knees," Vosler said.


Deb's life revolved around playing the game that brought her so much joy, and when she was hit little did she know, it was something she would never recover from. 

"This one was so injured that it couldn't be repaired," Vosler said.

Doctors removed Deb's right knee and fused her tibia and femur. For 10 years she struggled with a leg that had no bend, living each day with hip pain, back problems and nerve damage. A difficult decision had to be made, live each day in pain or have her leg amputated. It was a choice Deb has no regrets about.

"The injury that caused me to lose my leg is also the blessing that brought me to the United States Women's Volleyball Team," Vosler said.

At 46, Deb played in the inaugural season for the Women's Paralympic Volleyball team.

"When we won the bronze medal at the Athens games in 2004, my coach made sure I was the first one to get a medal. It was one of my best memories ever," Vosler said.

Deb calls her time with the Paralympic team a blessing, but something else was about to happen that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She had developed an ulcer on her tailbone and was referred to Olmsted Medical Center in Rochester. Once at OMC, her doctor had already made referrals of her own, one being a stop at Limb Lab in Rochester with a goal of getting Deb to walk once again.

"I came here for a tailbone ulcer. I thought I was going to get a patch and go home," Vosler said.

She met Limb Lab resident Andrew Nelson.

"I said, Deb here's my plan for you. It was a blank piece of paper and I said let's talk," Nelson said.

Deb was motivated to walk, motivated to get back to her students at Dover-Eyota Middle and High School and motivated to do the things many of us take for granted like walking up the steps to a friend's home or using a public restroom.

The day after Deb's meeting with Andrew at Limb Lab, a cast was made of her leg and work began on her new state-of-the-art prosthetic, but as it turns out, it wasn't her amputated leg that was holding her back.

Nelson said, "it was her left leg that was slowing her down, it wasn't her prosthetic side. Her knee in her left side needed a replacement."

Just a few days after we first met Deb she underwent knee replacement surgery. After one month of recovery, Deb took her first steps inside Dover-Eyota Schools.

Deb called the moment "unbelievable" and is excited for the future. 

Deb is hopeful her story will inspire others who have disabilities to go after their dreams. Maybe even someday, too, becoming a member of the U.S. Paralympic team.


Rachel Wick

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