Mike Mazerall, 49, the orthotic fitter at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital, lost his left leg at the knee in 1997. Now he helps others through his work.
People who have lost part of a leg and need to be fitted for a prosthetic at Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital may not suspect it at first. But the athletic, energetic man with curly hair who is helping them knows first-hand what they’re going though.
Mike Mazerall moves quickly around the hospital’s orthotics room, grabbing equipment and monitoring the computer. There’s only a hint of unevenness in his walk. Mazerall lost his left leg at the knee in 1997 in a motorcycle accident in New Hampshire, and he uses a prosthetic from the knee joint down.
It allows him to carry his full weight and gives him more flexibility in choosing his knee socket and prosthesis. He can swim, ride a motorcycle and a bike, roller blade and ice skate. “The only thing I don’t do is sky dive,” he said.
How he came to be working at the rehab hospital is a story of his personal abilities and the support of John Griffin of Marshfield, head of Orthopedic Rehabilitation Services.
When Mazerall came to the hospital in 1997, he said he was “a mess and it took a while to feel I still had a body. I didn’t know where my life would go.”
Griffin visited him in his hospital bed and told him he would do well with a prosthetic because he had a light build and was athletic.
“That actually made a huge difference,” Mazerall said. He worked hard to develop skills to use the prosthetic equipment and became so active when he went home that he kept coming back for repairs.
Then he began doing repairs at home and asking Griffin to order parts. Mazerall was doing motorcycle repairs for a job at the time, but the job involved some heavy pushing and after a hip replacement, he needed less strenuous work.
Griffin suggested he apply for a job as an orthotic technician at Braintree Hospital. Eventually he did. He has been on board for two years and is studying to get his orthotic fitters license.
He enjoys working with patients, giving them encouragement with examples from his experience. “I truly do feel that when they take that first step with the prosthesis, it’s as if I took it,” he said. “It’s quite exhilarating and gives me really fond memories because I know how I felt when I took my first steps.”
Mazerall lives in Dorchester with his wife, Karen Jansky, and their three children, ages 18, 20 and 21.
Griffin, who had been a victim of a car accident, has experienced great satisfaction watching Mazerall develop over the past 10 years. “He has had achievement after achievement that would otherwise keep some people back,” Griffin said.
“Mike is a natural, with his experience working with metal, building and modifying motorcycles. That has helped him to fabricate metal braces for stroke patients, and to contour the shape of the knee joints and uprights used in the prosthetics.”
Sue Scheible may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.