Aimee Copeland‘s life changed forever four years ago. In May 2012, the then 24-year-old cut her leg in a fall from a homemade zip-line into the Little Tallapoosa River in Carrollton, Georgia. She contracted necrotizing fasciitis, an aggressive flesh-eating bacterial infection, resulting in her arms and legs being amputated as a life-saving measure.
Nowadays, Copeland is adjusting to her new normal with the help of revolutionary prosthetics.
After years of trying different devices, she has found the perfect fit with the help of Randall Alley, a pioneer in prosthetic socket design who has previously worked with surfer Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a shark as a teen.
“They just felt like a part of me, an extension of my natural arms – like the real thing,” Copeland said in an interview on Good Morning America.
Alley explained that while other prosthetics don’t control the bone, making them feel very unstable, the new technology allows the bone to stabilize by compressing around the tissues.
While the new prosthetics are allowing Copeland to regain her independence, her incredible spirit helped her recover as well.
“I think compassion was a huge part of my healing,” she said, adding, “When you’re helping others, you’re not focused on yourself.”
Copeland plans to continue to help others, especially those with disabilities, by creating non-profit nature centers. She noticed after her accident that there were few places where people with disabilities could enjoy the outdoors, and she plans to change that.
“My goal, after I become a licensed clinical social worker, is to combine my counseling with full mind, body, spiritual growth and to focus on the outdoors, community gardening and helping people to just fully immerse themselves in nature,” she said.
Like everyone else, Copeland admits to getting down during times when “everything is going wrong,” but she turns to her family and friends for support.
“All you need is love,” she said with a smile.