Columbia City Business is Focused on Excellent Customer Experiences
Writer / Angela Cornell
Photographer / Timothy Hare
Car trouble is something that everyone deals with at some point or another. What’s less common is car trouble that changes a person’s life. But that’s exactly what happened to Kent Turnbow at age 14.
“I was hooking up jumper cables along the road between two cars, and a car hit the car behind me,” he says. “It crushed my right leg between the two bumpers. I was fortunate that it didn’t get both legs. It turned my world upside-down.”
The immediate result of the accident was that his leg was amputated below the knee, and he received a prosthetic replacement. However, this caused a chain of events that would have a much deeper impact on his life, and on the lives of others in his sphere of influence.
During his two-month hospital stay, Turnbow spent a lot of time thinking about another amputee and a camp director, Tom Williams, who Turnbow had met a month before the accident while on a family fishing trip.
“For this camp, you had to boat in 30 miles or fly in,” he says. “He had a boathouse and I was exploring. I looked behind one of the doors, and there in the corner was standing one of his old legs. When I was in the hospital, laying in the bed, I thought, ‘He was jumping in and out of boats and living in the wilderness and being active. I want to do that too.’ To bring it full circle, three years ago we were able to sit and chat for a few hours and catch up. I had a chance to share with him what an inspiration he was for me.”
Committing to healing completely wasn’t the only thing Turnbow took seriously after leaving the hospital. He also focused more on his studies, and after graduating from high school, he went to college as a pre-med student.
However, he decided to switch his career goals from surgery to a focus on prosthetics.
“My interest was more in that,” Turnbow says. “I thought, ‘I think this is a better fit,’ and it has been.”
After completing his residency, he returned to the Fort Wayne area in 1989 as a prosthetist.
“I worked for three different companies, then in 2011 I decided to start my own business,” Turnbow says.
Since then, the team at Turnbow Prosthetics has been making a difference in the lives of northern Indiana amputees.
As an amputee himself, Turnbow has a perspective from which to empathetically and effectively reach out to people in pain and in difficult situations. He understands an amputee’s needs better than most.
One of an amputee’s primary needs is to find a prosthesis that fits well. It’s similar to finding the perfect pair of shoes – an uncomfortable pair can make it hard to walk, whereas the right pair, customized to your feet, relieves pressure.
Another crucial factor for an amputee is mobility.
“Each person will have different goals,” Turnbow says. “I’ve worked with higher-end athletes from runners, weightlifters, snow skiers and ice skaters to people who just want to be able to walk around their house. We want to see our patients succeed.”
Success is something that Turnbow Prosthetics is known for.
“I was working with someone recently who had worn a lot of legs and a lot of different braces,” Turnbow says. “They said, ‘This is the first time it didn’t hurt when I put all my weight on it.’ Another person couldn’t step off a curb without being in pain, and now they can jump off the back of their pickup truck and land without having any pain.”
Whatever a patient’s aims are, achieving them is always an exciting moment for Turnbow and his team.
“When a new amputee gets out of their wheelchair or takes that first couple of steps, realizes that they’re going to be able to walk again, and they say, ‘You give me hope and I can get up and go again,’ that’s what keeps me going,” Turnbow says. “Our tagline is ‘Reclaiming Your Life,’ and that is what we really want people to do.”
Turnbow Prosthetics is located at 561 West Connexion Way in Columbia City. Reach out to them by calling 260-244-0099, or send them an email on their website at turnbowprosthetics.com.