Wounded Times

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

New Dad learning to walk on new legs

New legs, new goals for Olympia soldier
Bellingham Herald
BY ADAM ASHTON
December 29, 2013

In his earliest memory, Sgt. Luke Cifka recalls stumbling in front of his dad as a toddler figuring out how to put one foot in front of the other.
Sgt. Luke Cifka spends time with his son Wyatt. After suffering critical injuries during a patrol in Afghanistan on May 31, he’s receiving care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
COURTESY OF KAIT CIFKA
The memory came back to him this fall when he began learning to walk again. This time, he’s recovering from a blast in Afghanistan that claimed his legs above the knees.

Last month, Cifka, 26, took his first steps with prosthetic limbs, walking without toes, calves or knees.

“All the muscles are different,” he said. “It takes a minute to get used to it, but it’s all incredible.”

The soldier from Olympia is almost seven months into his recovery at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland. The Olympian first told his story in June, eight days after the May 31 blast that changed his life.

Lately, Cifka is feeling the momentum of reuniting his family and taking those steps.

“When I look back at how I was maybe just four months ago, I wasn’t able to feed myself, I was barely able to keep track of what was going on because I was under this blanket of painkillers and anesthesia,” he said. “It’s very humbling to take a measure of how far we’ve come.”
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