Erich Schulze of Northern Prosthetics and Orthopedic Inc. Profiled in Northwest Quarterly Magazine

Erich Schulze of Northern Prosthetics and Orthopedic Inc. Profiled in Northwest Quarterly Magazine

Erich Schulze of Northern Prosthetics and Orthopedic Inc. Profiled in Northwest Quarterly Magazine

Erich Schulze, 49, part owner of Northern Prosthetics & Orthopedic Inc., Rockford, has a passion for getting patients back on their feet – literally. Amputees, stroke patients and people with disabilities all benefit from the custom devices he designs and builds in his lab.

At age 16, Schulze began assisting his father, Herb, who founded the company. Today, he’s a certified prosthetist, orthotist and pedorthist, and his field has advanced light-years from the belts and straps he once built.

“It’s very humbling,” Schulze says. “Sometimes, you want to do things that maybe are impossible.”

With today’s technical advances, however, there’s little he can’t accomplish. Durable, aircraft-quality materials and colorful cosmetic touches make orthopedic appliances more comfortable and attractive than ever.

He recalls one particular patient who was fitted for an improved, more comfortable prosthesis, after relying on older types for 45 years.

He was so thrilled to be out of pain, and his mobility was better,” says Schulze. “To be able to change someone’s life is so rewarding. He never knew that a prosthesis didn’t have to hurt.”