Erik B. Schaffer, C.P. is a world-renowned, award-winning prosthetist, inventor, author, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. With over twenty-eight years of experience in providing custom-designed prostheses for patients with lower and upper extremity limb loss, Erik is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on prosthetic technology and his business, A Step Ahead Prosthetics, is known as the destination for amputees looking for the ultimate in prosthetic care.
From a young age, Erik knew he wanted to become a prosthetist. At age fifteen, he began working as a prosthetic technician student at a Long Island prosthetics facility. By the time he was in college, Erik was already a seasoned technician, and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Prosthetics and Orthotics.
Now a fully certified prosthetist, Erik moved back home to Long Island and almost immediately distinguished himself in the field through his quality workmanship, rapport with patients, and devotion to the craft. In 1995, twenty-five year old Erik was named the senior prosthetist at a prominent prosthetics facility and in 1996, Erik was invited to attend the Paralympic Summer Games in Atlanta, Georgia as a Prosthetic Repair Coordinator. As he continued building a reputation as one of the hottest young prosthetists in the country, Erik would also amass numerous certifications in prosthetic technology and would also build an impressive volume of volunteer work with amputees in his spare time.
In 2001, Erik opened the doors to his own prosthetics facility, A Step Ahead Prosthetics in Hicksville, NY. Erik’s philosophy of exacting craftsmanship, innovation, and providing a wide variety of prosthetic services under one roof has successfully extended to his business, creating a full ecosystem of support for patients. Besides offering custom made, cutting edge prosthetics, A Step Ahead also has a SkinTones lab for making custom-made silicone skins in-house, on-site gait training and rehabilitation, and houses its own Research and Development laboratory dedicated to designing and securing production of custom components not available anywhere else. Under Erik’s leadership, A Step Ahead has expanded its reach worldwide by opening facilities in Boston, MA and Israel.
Erik is a member of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association, National Association for the Advancement of Orthotics and Prosthetics, and the International Anaplastology Association. He is fully certified by the American Board for Certification of Prosthetics and also has certifications to fit the Proprio Foot, Power Knee, and Rheo Knee from Ossur, the C-Leg, Genium Knee, Helix Hip and Dynamic Arm from Ottobock, the BiOM T2 Foot and Ankle System, and the i-Limb from Touch Bionics.
Erik is a well-published author in prosthetics. His crowning literary achievement is undoubtedly serving as the editor of the Limb Prosthetics chapter in the current version of the Merck Manual Home Edition. Between 2003 and 2009, he wrote “Advances in Hip Disarticulation Socket Design,” “Protecting Your Prosthetic Investment,” “The Prosthetic Knee: Microprocessor and Non-Microprocessor Knee Joints,” and “Does Form Follow Function? Decision-Making When Choosing a Prosthesis” for In Motion Magazine. In 2012, Erik added “producer” to his impressive list of credentials by funding and producing “My Really Cool Legs,” a documentary film on pediatric prosthetics and pediatric amputees.
Erik and A Step Ahead prosthetics have been featured on numerous media outlets including (but not limited to) the Discovery Channel, the Oprah Winfrey Show, The Doctors, Life Magazine, USA Today, the New York Times, Reader’s Digest, and the Real Housewives of New York. Erik also created a prop prosthetic leg for the hit TV show Grey’s Anatomy, and has more recently received media attention for providing prosthetic care to survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Erik’s considerable expertise in prosthetics has led to him being asked to participate in a number of research projects including Adelphi University’s The Run Efficiency of Amputee Athletes with Prostheses (2008) and Touro College’s Reliability of the GAITrite system in Recording Temporal and Spatial Parameters of Gait in Individuals Utilizing the C-leg Prosthetic Knee (2009) and Reliability and Reproducibility of the Temporal and Spatial Parameters of Gait in Individuals with Lower Extremity Amputations Utilizing a Ceterus Foot (2008-2010). He also gives an annual presentation to Touro College’s Doctoral Physical Therapy Program. In 2008, he presented “Functional Outcome of Bilateral Hip Disarticulation Amputations” at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
Since 2008, Erik has been an advisor on the development of bone-anchored osseointegration prosthetics for lower extremity amputees. In 2011, Erik was asked by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to assist in the development of the design of bionic prosthetics, exoskeletal orthotic systems and 3D printing for prosthetic interfaces, and in 2012 Medex International tapped him for help in the development and design of prosthetic components for lower extremity prosthetics. Both partnerships are ongoing to this day. Erik has also been a longtime advisor on new product development for leading prosthetic component manufacturers Ottobock, Ossur, and Freedom Innovations, and has been invited to participate in various focus groups and industry conferences by Ossur.
In spite of all of his professional credentials and success, Erik still maintains an enormous volume of volunteer work in his spare time. His first experiences were at the Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged in 1989 providing emergency prosthetic repairs for participating athletes ranging in age from four to seventeen. Twenty-five years later, Erik still attends in this same capacity. He has also volunteered to provide prosthetic support to athletes at the Westchester Triathlon, Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, New York City Triathlon, Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon, Epic Adventure Race, 24 Hour Ultramarathon National Championships, Vermont 100 Ultramarathon, Spartan 48 Hour Death Race, A.S.P.I.R.E. 10K, Hope and Possibility 5 Mile Race, Fifty Mile Ocean to Sound Relay, and Junior Orange Bowl Games for the Physically Challenged. He was also on the medical staff for Team USA at the 2010 24 Hour World Championships in Brieve, France, and spent several years working with wounded warriors at the annual Disabled American Veterans Winter Ski Clinic in Colorado.
Outside of work, Erik is a dedicated family man with four daughters. He is a self-described “car nut” with a passion for sports cars. Erik is also a firm believer in physical fitness; he has been in a CrossFit training program for over two years, and strongly encourages his patients to exercise regularly as part of their rehabilitation program.