Author, prosthetist and world traveler reopens his business in Washoe Valley
Appeal Staff Writer
Limping through life isn’t an option for Rick Riley. And he doesn’t want that for any other amputee, whether that’s physical strain caused by an ill-fitting prosthetic, or mental strain caused by a world that doesn’t quite fit them.
After losing his right leg below the knee 32 years ago in a motorcycle accident, Riley suffered through many years of pain because of bad equipment and an active lifestyle that he wasn’t willing to give up.
“I was bicycling the Alps in summer 1977 with some teacher friends and I was really tearing up my stump. So while traveling I started making my own adjustments to my prosthetic.”
After teaching in Cairo for two years, Riley returned to the United States and started a prosthetic apprenticeship. He was certified by Northwestern University in 1980. Working in large laboratories showed Riley how important individual attention is to the amputee. He vowed to provide that in his own lab.
“I really have fun. This is my own private lab and I feel like a mad scientist. I can come in here and create things,” the 52-year-old said.
Riley, owner of Prosthetic Consulting Technologies of Washoe Valley, has taken his experiences and crafted them into a career of assisting others. Riley said his time-intensive consultations and writings on the subject of amputation serve the entire person. He reopened his business this year after selling his last prosthetic business five years ago.
“I’m not just putting a piece of hardware on them, I’m giving them back mobility. I give them information, advice and encouragement.
“I’m looking at the whole person, not just the stump. My philosophy is the prosthetic is just a part of the body, and we have to take care of the whole person.”
Riley is affable and quick on his feet as he worked on an above-the-knee socket in his lab off Highway 395 North. He describes his life as improving after he lost his leg at 20. At a young age, he figured out what mattered most, and it was relationships.
A former U.S. Disabled Cross County Ski Team member, Riley was inspired by the athletes to ditch negativity. Riley said that when he felt better about himself he projected confidence, and others treated him with respect. His love life, which can be a problem with many amputees, improved dramatically.
He started writing “Living with a Below-Knee Amputation” while living in Spain. Riley and his wife, Jill, brought their two sons, 11-year-old John and 12-year-old Jeff, to Granada to experience life outside America. His book describes the experience from amputation to rehabilitation, and it address topics that others shy away from, such as pain and sexuality.
Riley’s next adventure will take him to Belize with the Reno Rotary Club in November. They will be giving free fittings to amputees.
• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at email@example.com or 881-1212.