ABC
April 03, 2015 08:00 AM

When producers first approached Noah Galloway about joining season 20 of Dancing with the Stars, they took for granted just how challenging the show would be for the 33-year-old Army veteran.

Galloway lost his left leg above his knee and his left arm above the elbow during his second tour in Iraq. Though he isn’t the first amputee to appear on DWTSHeather Mills and Amy Purdy preceded him – he’s the first to do it with only one knee.

“Most people take it for granted,” Galloway told PEOPLE. “Before I was injured, I wouldn’t have thought about it either. I don’t take offense to that. Anytime that I brought it up to my friends that I don’t have a knee, it clicks with people, like, ‘Oh, that is different.’ But I also felt like that was an opportunity to put me on a larger platform to show how different is is for me. Every amputation is different. Where it is changes everything.”

The prosthetic leg that Galloway uses for DWTS does bend – but not in a way that makes dances like the jive or even the samba easy.

“When people lunge onto their legs, they can push back up. I can’t. If I lean into it, then I’m going down,” explains Galloway. “This prosthetic has a micro-processor that can add resistance as I’m bending that can slow me down. There’s just no coming back up. It just helps with how fast I am going to go to the floor – either really fast or I’m going to ease down to it.”

Galloway credits his partner Sharna Burgess for “adapting to my injuries.”

“The judges said the male leads with his left hand, and they were talking about how amazing it was how we put everything together, and that’s all Sharna. She designs the dances so I won’t have to lead with the left arm, but I am still leading the dance.”

“All I know about dancing is what Sharna has taught me. She is teaching me how to dance while missing an arm and a leg. It’s been amazing.”

Dancing with the Stars airs Mondays (8 p.m. ET) on ABC.

On sale now: PEOPLE’s 10 Years of Dancing with the Stars Collector’s Edition, available in stores here and for digital download here

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