Woman’s ‘Lego leg’ video a hit, inspires others
ST. LOUIS (AP) — When Christina Stephens last month made a prosthetic leg out of the children’s toy Legos, she became an Internet sensation.
Stephens, 31, recently lost her left foot in an accident and decided to use her clinical expertise as an occupational therapist to help others dealing with amputations.
Stephens began a series of YouTube videos and a Facebook page under the name “AmputeeOT,” in which she addresses issues for many new amputees.
Her construction of a prosthetic leg out of hundreds of Lego pieces made her an Internet star. The YouTube video has more than 1.3 million views since it was posted in early July.
“I thought my Legos video had some viral potential, but I had no idea it would explode like it did,” she said.
The leg doesn’t work, of course, but that’s not the point.
“Part of what I want to do with my videos is de-stigmatize amputation and make it less scary,” Stephens said.
In January, she was changing the brake pads on her car when the car slipped off its jack stand and landed on her left foot. Her husband, Christopher, used a hydraulic jack to lift the car off her and rushed her to the hospital. She figured the foot was probably broken.
“It didn’t look that bad,” Stephens said.
Within weeks, though, her toes and other parts of her foot turned gray, then black. Her surgeon believed he could save the foot, but there was no guarantee it would be functional, Stephens said.
Knowing the pain may not go away if she kept the foot, she chose amputation.
She was joking with colleagues about the kinds of prosthetic leg she should use. One colleague joked that she should build one out of Legos.
Stephens liked the idea of putting her childhood skills to the test. It took her about two hours to shoot the time-lapse video in her home. In it, she constructs a colorful prosthetic leg, though one of no practical use: When she stands on it, the foot crumbles.
The Lego leg wasn’t meant to be functional. “The video is sort of a metaphor for rebuilding your life after a disability,” Stephens said. “But you can’t really walk on it.”
Sherry Young, 38, was born with a partial tibia on her right leg. After two fractures, it became extremely painful and wasn’t healing. She had to either amputate or go through reconstructive surgery.
She found Stephens’ videos on YouTube. Based on what she saw, she decided to amputate.
“Without Christina, I don’t think I would have gone through with this,” Young said. “I would have dealt with the pain and just kept walking on crutches. I’m very happy I made the decision I did.”
Stephens plans more videos, and she has a second Lego leg — “Lego Leg 2.0,” she called it. This one has moveable pieces — but it’s still just for show.