Phil Skiff Phil Skiff,
Wright & Filippis
(Photo Provided)

In 2008, Phil Skiff was involved in a car-motorcycle accident in which he sustained severe injuries to one of his legs. Multiple surgeries were unable to restore adequate blood flow to his lower leg and foot; two days after his accident, with Phil’s permission, surgeons amputated his leg below the knee. While this procedure held promise for restoring function, the path to regaining mobility was long.

“My first time in a prosthesis came as a real shock,” Phil said. “I’d gotten my hopes up too far and was unprepared for the pain I experienced standing and walking in a socket. Everyone’s experience is unique, but it was a struggle for me.”

It took several years and additional surgeries before Phil was able to wear his prosthesis without experiencing pressure sores. As he learned to use his prosthesis, Phil began participating in local support groups run by the Amputee Coalition of America (ACA), where he met advocates who provided valuable support. Because of that experience, in 2016 Phil decided to become a peer visitor with the ACA as a way to “pay it forward” by assisting other amputees in need of support. In addition to volunteer work with the ACA, Phil volunteers his time with several organizations, including the University of Michigan, where he participated in physiological impact testing of new prosthetic devices and participated in a prosthetic user focus group. He also volunteers his information technology (IT) expertise for the largest food pantry in southeast Michigan, drawing on his 30 years of experience in the IT industry.

In 2022, Phil was invited to serve as a peer reviewer for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes Research Program. As a peer reviewer, Phil draws on his own personal experience to advocate for device users and how they may be affected by the proposed research projects. Phil said that working as a peer reviewer provides a sense of control over his own life and future.

“It is an extraordinary opportunity for anyone who lives or works in the delivery or utilization of orthotics and prosthetics services and products,” Phil said. “It’s a front-row seat to the future of the field. Participating in consumer advocacy is a powerful way to tangibly participate in a future that can have direct impact on the life you will live. There are few opportunities like this.”

Phil’s drive to prioritize work and volunteering comes from understanding how overwhelming and isolating it can be for an amputee after such a traumatic event.

“Being able to talk to someone who knows, through lived experience, what you’re going through is incredibly powerful, healing, and sustaining,” Phil said.

The views, opinions, and/or findings contained in this paper are those of the author(s) and should not be construed as an official Department of Defense position, policy or decision.

Last updated Thursday, October 5, 2023