Skip to Top NavigationSkip to Utility NavigationSkip to SearchSkip to Left NavigationSkip to Content
Mobile Menu
Bookmark and Share

Student Who Lost Leg as an Infant Studies Prosthetics and Orthotics to Help Other Amputees


Posted 11/25/2015
Posted by Meagan Fazio


Austin Reed '19 after finishing a "Color Run."

Austin Reed '19 after finishing a "Color Run."

Reed with his prosthetist, Raymond Lawson (left), and Paul Selph (right) of Hanger Clinic. Photo: Mike Hibbard/Finger Lakes Times

Reed with his prosthetist, Raymond Lawson (left), and Paul Selph (right) of Hanger Clinic. Photo: Mike Hibbard/Finger Lakes Times

Reed loves to run as often as he can.

Reed loves to run as often as he can.

When Austin Reed ’19 was just six-months-old, his parents faced an unimaginable choice. They could either allow doctors to perform a below-the-knee amputation on their son, who was born without parts of his leg and ankle, or he would never be able to walk. After consulting experts from around the country, they opted for the surgery to give Austin the best chance for a normal life.

That was 18 years ago. Today, Austin is a first-year student in the College of Education, Nursing and Health Profession’s prosthetics and orthotics program. Over the course of the next four-and-a-half years, Austin will earn both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees as he learns how to design the types of devices that have helped him walk since he was a toddler.

Austin originally wanted to be a journalist or a meteorologist. But after talking about his experience with Boy and Girl Scout groups during high school, he realized he wanted to do something to help others with similar challenges.

“It made me realize this is something I want to go into because I really enjoy passing my story on to help kids who are going through it or their parents,” explains Austin. “So I came here. It was my only college visit and the only school I applied to. I fell in love with it. I thought, ‘This is it. This is what I’ve got to do.’”

Austin points out the decision to study here was made even easier by the fact that out of the 13 accredited prosthetics and orthotics programs in the country, ours is the one closest to his family in Seneca Falls, NY. His ultimate goal is to return home after graduation to work in the clinic that has treated him since he was a child. His prosthetist will be retiring around the same time and he is hoping Austin will take his place.

Austin knows that his experience as an amputee will give him a unique insight. He remembers a specific moment between his mother and his doctor when he was seven-years-old that may shape the way he works with his youngest patients.

“My doctor was complaining that I got my leg dirty in the mud,” Austin remembers. “He said to keep it clean and my mom said ‘No. He’s going to live like a normal kid and get it dirty all he wants. I wouldn’t want to discourage him from being a normal kid.’”

Austin says he wants everyone to know that he is, in fact, a normal kid. When he’s not studying, he loves to run, play tennis, and hike. He got a new microprocessor ankle over the summer that makes those activities even easier. But he says most of the credit goes to his parents.

“I am a lucky one. Who knows where I would have gone if I had two legs? The way I think of it now, thanks to them, this is the way I’m supposed to be. This is the path I was intended to take: to help others in the same position as I am.”
Austin Reed '19 after finishing a "Color Run."

Austin Reed '19 after finishing a "Color Run."

Reed with his prosthetist, Raymond Lawson (left), and Paul Selph (right) of Hanger Clinic. Photo: Mike Hibbard/Finger Lakes Times

Reed with his prosthetist, Raymond Lawson (left), and Paul Selph (right) of Hanger Clinic. Photo: Mike Hibbard/Finger Lakes Times

Reed loves to run as often as he can.

Reed loves to run as often as he can.