Spotlight: Premier Prosthetics & Orthotics
The certified prosthetists at Premier Prosthetics & Orthotics have a direct impact on their patients’ quality of life by providing the highest level of convenience and care. One of Premier Prosthetics’ owners is Matt Ruengert, CP, LP, CPED, who works very closely with the Disabled Athletes Sports Association (DASA) and their athletes, including Steve Cash and Billy Hanning, Paralympic gold medalists in men’s hockey.
Both Cash and Hanning became amputees after being diagnosed with bone cancer, and both went on to find success on and off the ice. The team at Premier Prosthetics worked to provide the best prosthetics to help them perform at their highest athletic ability.
Cash got his first prosthesis at age 4 and grew up playing sports. He fell in love with hockey at a young age. When he was in and out of the hospital for treatment, he watched the Olympics and knew it was something he really wanted to do. “I watched the USA men’s hockey team on TV and dreamed of donning that sweater, but I was playing against able-bodied people, so I didn’t really consider it an option,” he says.
He discovered sled hockey, the adaptive form of the sport, when he was 14. “It was my way to escape and present myself with what I could do rather than what I couldn’t,” he says. “It provided me a different outlook on life.”
He made the national team at age 16 and earned his first Paralympic gold medal in 2010, which he calls a surreal experience. “It’s something you can’t prepare yourself for until the moment arrives,” he explains. “In the end, the experience made me appreciate what I’ve been given in life rather than what was taken away from me.”
Cash has since competed in four Paralympic Games and hopes to return in 2022 with the new prosthetic leg he just got from Premier Prosthetics. “As a Paralympic athlete, I’m training day in and day out, and it starts with being ambulatory and mobile,” he says. “I know this leg will help me reach the performance level I want.”
Hanning’s journey to the Paralympics began when he was looking to get back into playing sports. He discovered DASA online, and the organization connected him with the local hockey team. “I went to one practice, and I never stopped,” he says.
At the urging of his teammates and others, he tried out for the national team. He made the development team and played for three years before making the national team in 2014. Just four years later, he and his teammates won gold at the Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Hanning recently began working with Ruengert at Premier Prosthetics to get his new X3 leg, one of the top prosthetics available. “They’ve gone out of their way to make sure I’m comfortable,” he says. “Everyone there wants to make sure you’re taken care of.”
Premier Prosthetics & Orthotics | 343 S. Kirkwood Road, Ste. 200 | 314.262.8900 | premierpando.com
Pictured at top: USA Men’s Hockey Paralympic gold medalists Steve Cash and Billy Hanning