The 80/20 Rule… What I’ve Learned From My Patients

It’s easy to get down about life and the stress that we deal with. Whether it’s kids, jobs, spouses or friends, things can become a struggle to deal with on a daily basis. The one thing that I have noticed in my 19 years of working in the field of Prosthetics is that most amputees are tougher than I am. For some reason, I say God, these people are able to get back up from such a tragic event (losing a limb) and keep on going on with life. No matter their overall health they have things to get done—and they do them. With the device we make for them and some encouragement from a whole team of professionals, they snap back to life with full steam and live strong.

Several of the patients I am currently working with this month are great examples of this. From all walks of life, these people have had some health issue that has caused them to lose a limb, and they have asked our team to help them become whole again. They are eager to get back to work; whether the job is technical, sales, retirement, or working around the house, they seek a device that helps them do what they need to do.

There are lots of options of components and we have several different ways of doing therapy after the prosthesis is fit. But the most important thing is the motivation that drives someone to get through the battle of the mind. I have come to call this the 80/20 rule— 80% strength in the mind and 20% physical ability. I guess it is something that I have made up from being around people with limb loss and seeing that they can overcome things that physically seem impossible. Quite simply, they want to do this so they do. Mind over matter, faith, strong will, stubbornness or whatever you want to call it all point to the same thing—if someone wants to get better they usually will.

I have a patient who called me a few days ago and asked that I come to pick up his limbs that we made for him. He is terminally ill and there is nothing else the doctors can do for him. But he did not sound sad but seemed to have a sense of peace when he talked to me. He thanked me for what we have done for him in the past and he wanted to make sure someone else that did not have insurance could benefit from his used parts. This is the first experience I have had with this. Most of the time the family brings things to us after someone has passed on. This gentleman wants to be a part of what happens to his old stuff while he is still here. He knows that things do not look good for him long term. But he has that 80/20 rule in his favor. He has always, in the six plus years I have known him, been a fighter and a great person. He always had a smile and a funny comment for me every time I saw him. I will see him in a day or two and I will look forward to that smile.

I have come to realize that I can learn so much from the ones that I am “supposed to be helping.” They have way more courage than I do. My life is easy. I am healthy and have a family that loves me and supports me and a career that is God-given for sure. I need to have this 80/20 perspective for my own life that I don’t always have.

So for all of those that I have worked with over the years and to anyone I will work with in the future, I owe you all a big thank you. Thank you for showing me that anything is possible and that if you want something bad enough, then just go do it. They say you always can keep learning. I have learned so much over the past few days about life. Listen to your customers. They will tell you much more than what they need. They will tell you what you need as well.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact Bristol Orthotics & Prosthetics at 423.968.4442 or

Bristol Orthotics and Prosthetics was founded in 1980, by Will’s father, Jerry Graybeal as an extension to a growing family business. Today as a third generation practitioner, Will Graybeal continues his family’s legacy. With two locations and mobile clinics, Bristol Orthotics and Prosthetics can serve East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina by providing the latest technology in products while still creating long lasting relationships. From the beginning in 1975, Bob Graybeal, Will’s grandfather, believed that if you take care of the community, the community would take care of you. Bristol Orthotics and Prosthetics still believes in these founding principles.

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