Monday, August 5, 2013

Test Driving My New Ride

Last Thursday I received my final socket.  It was an exciting moment as a new amputee.  I finally get to overdo it without worrying about breaking my socket.

It initially felt pretty good, but subsequently I've noticed I'm having issues maintaining the vacuum seal, even with socks.  We noticed it when I first started walking in the leg.  It comes and goes, but each day I've noticed it gets a little worse.  Today I went most of the day unable to maintain the vacuum in the socket.

When I walk around it sounds like I'm farting with every step as air escapes the one-way valve.  While that's awesome, I'm unable to keep an airtight seal with the addition of liner socks.  I've even tried adjusting my liner without any luck.

But, it's still been awesome.  Yesterday I walked just shy of two miles in my new leg.

Let's take a quick tour of my new ride.

Prosthetic legs are made of four basic components: 1) a liner that goes between your skin and the socket, 2) a socket, 3) a pylon, and 4) a foot.  My foot and pylon are essentially the same system.

My foot has a pump inside it that sucks air out of my socket.  This creates negative pressure between my liner and socket and better adheres the foot to my residual limb.  By using this system, we're taking advantage of the large amount of surface area in my residual limb to bear the weight of my leg.  This makes the leg feel lighter and more like a part of my body.

I have no idea why they make the foot shells realistic.

On the side of the foot is this shock absorber made by Ossur.  It's called the Re-Flex Shock.  This will help me with running later.  The pylon, which is the thing that connects the foot to the socket, telescopes in on itself, allowing the shock absorber to do reduce the energy transferred to my knee from each impact.

The carbon fiber foot is always covered with a thick sock.  This helps prevent the foot shell from wearing down the carbon fiber foot.

The foot is awesome.  It's a new system built by Ossur that contains a pump in the heel.  Each time I walk, my heel strike pushes a pump that sucks out air from my socket.

Here's the end of the pump over my heel.

The bottom of the foot is lightly padded.  This is usually the first thing to wear out in a prosthetic limb.

I really like this system so far.  It feels really comfortable when I've got a good fit in the socket.  I'm already walking better than I ever have since my accident, and I've got a long way still to go.

I took my new leg out for a test drive in the parking lot.  After a few attempts at running I actually had a good quick run.  I haven't done that since 2009.  When I woke up from surgery, I was told I'd be walking by August 1st.  On August 1st, I ran instead.

Also, I'm pretty happy with the random thumbnail YouTube picked for me.


  1. AWESOME !!!!!

    to You ... and to Brooke

    sitting here with a big smile

    cheers, anna

  2. Wow! The leg is amazing! Are those pin stripes? It looks like something out of a science fiction movie. (I know they'll get the kinks in your vacuum worked out soon. Too bad you can't hang out with Jake & Josh - they'd love the sound effects) Running 6 weeks after amputation. What a gift - you're getting so much more than just your life back. Love you, Mom

  3. Pretty damn amazing! :)

    Woot woot!

  4. You are amazing Tony! Congrats.

  5. Hey snowboarder! Where do you live? I'm a below knee amputee (skier..sorry!) in Evergreen CO. Wondering if you're my neighbor? My website is at I'll be reading more of your blog in the days to come. I love the support you're giving Chris, who I just 'met' online. We're all here to help each other, right? :)
    Judy Berna

  6. As an occasional reader of your blog for a couple of years now, I gotta say THIS VIDEO IS WONDERFUL TO SEE. Big congrats.

  7. Oh wow, Tony. You are running. That is a-freaking-mazing. Hope it feels amazing too.

    P.S. Kate toots practically every other step when she runs. I would love to see the two of you running/farting together. :)

  8. I have to say that I really like your blog, it is so inspiring! And you seem to be doing great! I am afraid I am heading the same path as you, so I am really looking forward to your next posts.
    I wonder if you could give more information on the work out and diet you were following in preparation for the surgery. It would be very useful, especially how to do a work out in the gym, as my foot seems to hurt more when I do exercises even to the upper body. Any tips?
    BTW I can tell it is essential to have such a great partner as Brooke :) it makes all the difference.

  9. Thank you very much! Sorry to hear you're heading the same way, but it will be worth it. I will definitely put together a post about diet/workout. I've talked about it briefly on the blog. I'm 100% paleo. I'm working on a post now and maybe this should be the next one.