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A Night to Remember

We are proud to have been a sponsor of the Hanging With Friends, A Night to Remember, which took place on May 16th.  This special Prom gave kids with disabilities an evening of fun, games, music, and ….a chance to Hang with Friends.
Families Helping Families Region 7 offers a place where families can go for help that is guided by parents of individuals with disabilities and individuals with disabilities themselves. Affiliated with the Statewide Family Resource Network, FHF’s mission is to assist and strengthen individuals and families through a parent driven, coordinated network of services. Caring for individuals with disabilities takes a wealth of support, knowledge and information. Connecting with others who have similar experiences gives families first hand information and encouragement.  For more information on this family directed resource center:


Snell’s Awarded the Consumer Commitment Award from the BBB

The BBB International Torch Awards program recognizes outstanding businesses and individuals. This year Snell’s Orthotics • Prosthetics was awarded the Consumer Commitment Award.

Consumer Leadership Award – Snell’s Orthotics • Prosthetics was presented this award for significantly advancing marketplace trust through consumer advocacy, protection or education, through a specific action or lifetime achievement.

The Arc Bridges the Gaps for People with Disabilities

Photo: From left Robert Wilson, Janet Parker-Executive Director The Arc Caddo-Bossier, Clint Snell.  Seated:  Mattie Wilson.

Since 1954 The Arc Caddo-Bossier has led the state in the implementation of innovative and effective programs that meet the ever-growing needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The Arc Caddo-Bossier Foundation’s Society is a group of people who know the value of The Arc’s programs and are helping ensure the future of these essential services in our community.

As Secretary of The Arc Caddo-Bossier Foundation, I attended the organization’s annual Appreciation Dinner on April 9, 2013. This is always an enjoyable event that I look forward to each year.   The evening is devoted to celebrating the people, companies and organizations that support the work of The Arc Caddo-Bossier Foundation.

What makes this dinner so special is that it gives all of us who support The Arc a chance to connect with each other, in a pressure free environment.  We have the opportunity to hear a first hand account from a beneficiary every year about how The Arc has made individuals’ lives better and how they, and we, have been enriched by the organization’s work with disabled people in our area.

The work The Arc does has a tremendous positive and practical impact on the quality of life of so many individuals, families and friends.

A few of the many ways they support those with developmental and intellectual disabilities include:

  •  Respite care
  •  Advocacy
  •  Employment services
  • Children ‘s services
  • Community living
  • Recreation and leisure 

This year, Mattie Wilson shared her story with us.  While each person’s situation is unique to that person and family, the constant is that The Arc was instrumental in enhancing their quality of life.

I encourage you to click on this link to read Mattie and Robert Wilson’s story.

Check out the story here.

Mattie and Robert Wilson’s Story as told the evening of April 9, 2013 at The Arc Caddo-Bossier Foundation Appreciation Dinner

In 1978, The Arc Caddo-Bossier developed the first respite service in Louisiana.  Today The Arc continues to offer both in-home and out-of-home respite services for families in our community who care for a child or adult with developmental disabilities at home.  Mattie Wilson discovered The Arc Caddo-Bossier’s services through a friend.

While living in Dallas, Mattie Wilson was traveling back to her hometown of Shreveport in the back seat of a vehicle with her children, and they were involved in a horrible accident.  Robert was a toddler, and her daughter was only 3 ½ years old.  Mattie does not remember much from that day, but she later learned the miracle of what happened next when her young daughter placed Robert by their mother and walked to get help.  She walked three miles before she was discovered by women passing by on the interstate.  They picked up the young girl who took them back to the scene of the accident which could not be seen from the road.  Mattie was in Baylor Hospital in a coma for two months.  After much hard work and therapy, Mattie developed the ability to use a wheelchair for mobility.

Two years later Mattie decided to move back to Shreveport.  As a single mother she would be near her family and long-time friends like JoAnn Gines who was a member of The Arc Caddo-Bossier Board of Directors.  JoAnn suggested that she contact The Arc for help, so Mattie called to find out what services were offered.

Robert who has developmental disabilities was 11 years old the first time he stayed in the Guest Home, The Arc Caddo-Bossier’s home for respite services.  All of The Arc employees are certified and trained, and after Mattie met with them, she felt that it would be a safe and enjoyable environment for Robert, and she was right.  Robert will soon be 30 years old, and he still visits the Guest Home.

The respite services at The Arc Caddo-Bossier have given Mattie the opportunity to continue to do things in her life that she would have not been able to do without their support and care for Robert.  She knows that when she leaves him at the Guest Home that Robert is in a safe place where people enjoy being with him and know how to care for him.  And Robert enjoys his time there.

“The Respite Services at The Arc Caddo-Bossier have allowed me to live independently and not give up on life.  I am able to go and still do things I want to do in life, but know that my child is being well cared for.  I am at ease – at peace.” – Mattie Wilson, April 2013

Celebrating Heroes


Healthcare Heroes: Rebekah van Gessel, Chris Snell, Ashley Snell, Clint Snell, Carlos Garcia, Norma Garcia, Clyde Massey, Karla Spero.

Again this year, members of our staff attended and thoroughly enjoyed the LSU Health Sciences Foundation’s An Evening for Heroes.  As a company, Snell’s O&P was also proud to be a Valiant level sponsor of this very worthwhile endeavor.

The Foundation recognizes and honors health care professionals each year, from 911 operators and EMS responders to nurses, physicians and therapists who helped save lives in trauma and emergency situations. This year’s event featured a new mother’s survival story and a young burn victim who found his voice after a devastating fire. In addition, military heroes were honored from Barksdale Air Force Base.

Each year that we attend An Evening for Heroes, we are all inspired by the stories of the professionals who were involved in life saving care, as well as by the patients who survive and thrive after a life-altering situation.

LSU Health is the largest employer in Shreveport and contributes an impressive one billion dollars annually into our local economy. Support from our community is essential to attracting and retaining world-class physicians who are there when we need them.  This event provides a way to connect to the teaching, the healing and the discovery that go on right here in Ark-LA-Tex.

Snell’s Continues to Support Budding Practitioners

You may remember Rebekah Van Gessel from her appearance on Your Hometown Show last year.  She and resident Trevor Johnson were interviewed about requirements, education and training for young people coming into the O&P field.

We feel that the enthusiasm, “built in” technological savvy, energy and vitality of this new generation is contagious and refreshing.  So, we thought we would share an update on Rebekah’s progress, in her own words, so that visitors to our site can share in the passion she and others like her are bringing to today’s P&O:

“I just got back from Prosthetics school at Northwestern University Prosthetics Orthotics Center (NUPOC) in Chicago, which was five months online and three months on site learning in Chicago.  I graduated from NUPOC in orthotics on March 30, 2012 and prosthetics on March 30, 2013. I will be starting an 18 month dual orthotic and prosthetic residency very soon at Snell’s through NCOPE (National Commission on Orthotic and Prosthetic Education).

I am from Alexandria, now living in Bossier and working at Snell’s Line Ave office.

NUPOC’s O&P program was a great advanced program to be accepted into, which offers the student the ability to work full time while taking online classes the first 5 months. The on site portion provided hands on experience in the fabrication lab and with clients with amputations.

The best part about living in Chicago is the bond that is created with your classmates during the short three months you are there.  We became a family and still talk almost every day. The field of O&P is so small, we can’t help but become family, because no one else understands our experiences.

(Also, I will never forget the view out of my bedroom looking out on Lake Michigan, it is forever imprinted in my brain)!

Now, that I am graduated, I have been very busy in Prosthetics, Orthotics, & Cranial Remolding. Clyde (Massey) has been showing me the ropes out at Willis Knighton South Hospital during Dr. Ghali’s pediatric clinics every other week, twice a week.

I love getting to see the little babies and learn the process of corrective helmets.

I have also been traveling to the Monroe office with Russell (Bellamy) on Thursdays for more prosthetic experience.

As you can see I’ve jumped in, feet first, ready to learn and grow. I am so excited to get back into my routine here at Snells and I couldn’t be more thankful for all of their support and confidence in me.

Everyone here has become my family. I am so excited for the future.  I am loving being busy at work, it makes me feel important.  After the 18 month dual residency I get to sit for my ABC boards for certification.

C-Leg Roadshow

C-Leg Road Show Stops in Alexandria

On March 26, 2013, Otto Bock rolled in to our Alexandria office to demonstrate the C-Leg, a workhorse of the “bionic” style lower extremity prostheses. The C-Leg features micro-processor technology, which is wirelessly programmed for the patient’s particular gait and activity level. The C-Leg also is noted for its safety features which help prevent falls. Falling is a major factor in injuries and re-hospitalizations among above knee amputees with more traditional types of prostheses.

Among the patients that attended to see and experience the technology first hand was Tiffany Lester, a young woman who was a recent bi-lateral amputee.

According to Tommy Griffin, CP, and manager of the Alexandria location: “Tiffany has a below knee amputation on one side and above knee on the other. She had only been acclimating to her prostheses for a couple of weeks when she came to the Roadshow. She was still very reliant on a walker. Almost immediately when she tested out the C-Leg she was much more stable, and was able to walk without the walker. She also experienced significantly less energy expenditure.”

Over lunch, patients and Robert, a member of the Otto Bock staff, who is himself an above knee amputee took the opportunity to spend “peer time”. Robert counseled his fellow amputees on some of the nuances of making the most of the bionic technology. (He currently wears the “next generation” Otto Bock knee,  the Genium, which isn’t widely available at this time, but soon will be).

“It was a really rewarding and productive day for all of us. I think the patients that attended got a lot out of both the demonstration and the discussions with Robert.

We hope to repeat the experience again in the future,” said Tommy Griffin.

Michelle Smith



Something Wonderful

First Posted December 2010, Updated October 2012

“I had spent 26 years waiting for something wonderful to happen,” Michelle Smith
confided. Michelle, who was born with cerebral palsy, has been seriously mobility challenged all her life. “I didn’t have the life of a 26 year old, due to the CP and the limitations that brings on— for example, I couldn’t even step down a curb or get in and out of a car without help.”

Something wonderful did happen for Michelle. “(My friend Nikki was watching Good Morning America in September, 2009 and saw a story about this amazing new type of orthotics that are based on electrical stimulation of the nerve endings. When she called me to make sure I had seen the story, my first thought was that I could probably benefit from this type of braces, but that it would likely be too far to travel to get them.”

The story was about the latest development in orthotics, an advanced system designed to use mild functional electrical stimulation to lift the foot to help an individual walk more safely and easily, including up and down stairs, uneven surfaces—even curbs. The ones she was fitted with are the Bioness NESS L 300*. The NESS L 300 eliminates the need for rigid braces, in most cases, and in some cases use of the NESS L300 has resulted in a permanent improvement in condition for patients, allowing them to walk without a device at all.

“The results were astounding. I got my Bioness orthotics on September 9, 2009 and saw an improvement within 18 minutes of trying them out. [Check out the video here.] That is when my whole life began to change!” she exclaimed.

“How Do You Run, Mom?”

Michelle, with her newfound mobility asked her mother that question one day several months ago. “For the first time in my life I can step backwards, sideways, go where I want to go without having to hold onto anyone—that alone was a miracle—and now I am learning to skip, hop, run, too!” As it turns out, her best teacher for all those fun things is her 3-year-old niece, Amber. “She and I are learning together.”

Recently, Michelle, daughter of Thomas Smith, pastor of Campti United Pentecostal Church in Campti, was delivering gumbo to a parishioner, as part of a fundraiser the Church was conducting to help offset the cost of her new orthotics, and surprised both herself and her sister by walking down the porch steps by herself, which didn’t have hand rails, without even thinking about it—till her sis pointed it out to her.

Asked about her experiences with Snell’s Orthotics and Prosthetics, she reported: “In all truth, the folks at Snell’s are like family to me. I call and talk to them regularly. They have been so good to me and have gone out of their way to help me.”

Drastic Changes

“Sometimes I just want to cry tears of joy at the drastic changes. I had quit driving years ago, but continued to renew my license, now I am working on driving again, as well as searching for a job in my field of accounting. Now that I am able to do things on my own, my social life has also changed. I can go and do with my friends without having to worry about planning each step ahead of time, or refusing invitations to places that are unfamiliar. The whole world has opened up to me, and I feel like the Bioness’ are a miraculous answer to my prayers. My parents are able to go to their hunting camp without having to worry about who is going to watch over me while they are gone, which I am so thankful for. This technology not only gave me a whole new life, it also gave my parents their lives back,” she continued.
“And, lately, I have been seeing improvement even without my braces on, which makes me think that I might fall into the category of people who regain nerve function from wearing them!”

Michelle’s family, in addition to dad, Thomas and niece, Amber, includes her twin sister,
Danielle, a younger sister, Kirby and her mother, Rosemary.

According to Clint Snell, CPO and President of Snell’s Orthotics and Prosthetics: “It was
very dramatic seeing the changes that Michelle made over time. Even the day we first put the Bioness on her she was able to managed curbs and uneven ground. She was so excited and enthusiastic! Since then she has continued to make a great deal of additional progress in activities of daily living. It does seem like the Bioness has enhanced Michelle’s life and allows her to do more—getting out and about and meeting new people and friends. It is so gratifying to see changes like this in a patient’s life.”

Update — A July Wedding!

Wonderful things just keep happening for Michelle. Through mutual church friends, Michelle met Cass Arnold at a group outing on October 1, 2010. After dating for a year and 2 months they were engaged to be married on January 5, 2012, Cass, himself a twin, and Michelle were married on July 14th of this year. “We were going to get married in my dad’s church, since originally the ceremony was going to be small. But, my mom changed my mind about a small wedding, so we are going to ‘go big’. For that reason, we were married in our former church in order to have room for the crowd,” Michelle said.

And, the wedding planning didn’t stop with Michelle’s big day. “My little sister is getting
married in 2013, so Mom was working on not just one but two weddings at the same time.
During that process we had a moment of kind of re-thinking the ‘go big’ decision!” she laughed.
In the end, the wedding turned out to be the just the kind of “fairy tale” event Michelle was
dreaming of.

The spring of 2012 also saw the birth of Michelle’s second niece : “She is a miracle baby. My sister has Graves disease, so her pregnancy was extremely difficult. Thankfully, when she went into labor (a month early) she and her husband were in Shreveport that day and he rushed her to the ER where she had Addyson Leigh on Mother’s Day.”

Reflecting back on a more serious note, Michelle shared: “People don’t really realize the effects that a disabling health problem can have on your mental state. Prior to getting the Bioness braces, I couldn’t really do much on my own. That is a depressing place to be, no matter how hard you try to stay upbeat. Gaining mobility has changed so much in my life—it has freed me to reach my full potential, and in turn, given me more opportunity to help others, as well.”

Regaining her smile, she reports that: “Since I did the commercials about my experience with Snell’s, everywhere I go, people stop me to tell me they have seen me on tv! My facebook lights up with messages every time it airs, too.”

She is taking a break for the summer from school and will finish her bachelor’s degree this year. “I do so much now that were impossible before, and I am so grateful every day,” she concluded.

Snell’s Show and Tell

In September, “Mr. Trevor” (Snell’s Resident Trevor Johnson) was invited by Miles and Emily Snell, grandchildren of company president Clint Snell, to participate in their school’s show and tell activities.  Mr. Trevor made a special rainbow leg and Miles and Emily showed it off to show the kids, which they were fascinated with.  Miles’ class was featured in the neighborhood edition of the Shreveport Times.

Snell’s is dedicated to the education of future practitioners, as evidenced by our strong residency program.  Perhaps one day some of these youngsters will become prosthetists and orthotists at Snell’s!

The show and tell was at Noel Methodist Children’s Center.  Emmy is in PK4 and Miles is in PK3.

Brain Saybe

Brian Saybe, 55, has been an architect for the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Alexandria, Louisiana for 19 years-and shared his designs with the private sector for a number of years prior to that.

Saybe contracted polio when he was just three months old. The disease left him with paralysis in one leg, and he began wearing a KAFO (knee-ankle-foot orthosis) to provide support for that leg when he was 3 years old.

His first pediatric brace was fitted by Snell’s 52 years ago, and as he has grown and matured, Saybe has seen orthotic technology and techniques grow and progress, too.

“When I was a small child, the braces were very much different-mostly heavier steel. Over the years they have developed some metals and plastics that are just as strong, but much lighter.”

Saybe describes himself modestly as “Fairly mobile,” but then adds with confidence: “I do most anything I want to do. Around job sites, I’m not as adventurous as I was a few years back,” he smiles, “but if I need to get anywhere, I can get there.”

In his leisure hours, he swims frequently for exercise, and includes his wife and two daughters in his fishing and hunting expeditions. “Only one of my daughters likes to hunt, but they both enjoy fishing, so we often visit our camp in LaSalle Parish.”

Of his life and limitations, Saybe says, “I’ve always felt that I’ve been gifted in what I’ve been able to do. My handicap never stopped me. It might have made me take detours, but if there was something I wanted to do, I always found a way. The neighborhood kids all played ball together, and they just accommodated my needs. In baseball, I would hit the ball, but the fellow standing next to me would do the base running for me.

“I was very lucky-I was mobile enough to do things, and I was always surrounded by family and friends that never wanted to exclude me, and never felt it was necessary. We always made accommodations that let me do what I wanted to do.”

He recalls a story his mother used to tell: “I went to a Catholic school, and once, when I was in the second or third grade, my mother got a call from a frantic nun who told her that I had climbed to the top of the monkey bars-and she was concerned that I was in trouble.

“My mother just said calmly, ‘Well, if he climbed up there, he can climb down, so don’t worry about it!'”

Saybe thrived, in part due to his mother’s great attitude: “She used to talk about the doctor we visited who said that I would never walk. She dumped him in a hurry and went with one who offered a little more optimistic prediction!”

Snell’s has been designing and fabricating his KAFOs for more than half a century, and of the role they have played in a lifelong relationship, Saybe says simply, “Basically, they have made me mobile. Once I got into a brace, I’ve been able to be mobile and do everything I wanted to do.”