Gone In An Instant...
Kyle Hannon was a railroad switchman at a Richmond Virginia area steel mill. On September 15, 2014, Kyle’s life as he knew it would be drastically changed forever.
He was performing his routine job duties that day, switching out full rail cars with empty ones in a location where two sets of train tracks were very close and paralleled each other. As he was walking down the tracks that were supposed to be clear of rail cars, he heard the sound of an approaching car. Thinking it was on the other track, he suddenly felt the impact of the train car hitting him and immediately thrusting him under the wheels. The momentum dragged him under the train car about 50 yards before coming to a stop.
Kyle remained conscious throughout the entire time even though he was losing a large amount of blood. He was quickly rushed to the hospital and treated for his injuries.
Kyle spent several weeks speaking to other highly active bilateral above knee amputees about how they can accomplish many things in their daily lives using prosthetics. They all had one thing in common; they were all treated by bilateral amputee expert Chad Simpson. "I knew right away that I did not want to try other prosthetists, I saw the results of Chad's patient's and that is what I wanted as well. So my wife and I flew out to Oklahoma to begin the process of being fit with prosthetic legs," said Hannon.
The train severed both of Kyle's legs very high up. His right leg was amputated about mid-thigh, but his left leg was amputated much higher, leaving only a very short two-inch femur. The short length of his left limb would require a very skillful prosthetist to successfully fit a socket that Kyle could use in his daily life.
"I had several discussions with medical professionals about my short limbs, so I felt like I was realistic in my expectations. However, what I wanted was to wear my legs full-time and completely retire my wheelchair for good. My daughter had just been born, and I wanted to be able to help my wife take care of her and be a good father," recalled Hannon.
Walking for the first time with bilateral above knee prosthetics is a very humbling experience. "This was hands down the most difficult thing I had ever been faced with. I was told over and over that if I would make the commitment to keep going everyday using the prosthetics that I would achieve the results and goals I had set for myself. Each day it got a little bit easier. I was using the "stubbies" full-time, and I could see my balance and endurance improving," said Hannon.
Kyle used the stubbie training prosthetics for about six months everyday and would never get back in the wheelchair again. In fact, the last day he used a wheelchair was March 10, 2015. "I had gained so much confidence using the short prosthetics that I could do just about anything that I wanted to do. But the next phase of getting fit with X3 knees would bring new challenges to overcome," recalled Hannon.
Today, Kyle is a full-time prosthetic user and continues to push himself everyday to regain more and more mobility and function with his prosthetics. He uses the Ottobock X3 knees for most daily activities, but he also finds that switching into his "stubbies" for certain activities is much more functional.
Having the ability to switch between different components and configurations is one of the cornerstones of the patient care provided by Chad Simpson. "Our patients understand how to switch out different components for different activities. This enables them to be more functional and accomplish their goals in a more efficient manner. By keeping the same pair of sockets for all activities, helps to maintain a consistent fit of the sockets for long term use", said Simpson.
Being a full-time prosthetics user has positively impacted Kyle's daily life. He totally relies on his prosthetics for his daily mobility. Even with Kyle's very challenging residual limbs, his determination and commitment have taken him to a higher level of function that most medical professionals thought would be impossible.
He drives without any modifications to the vehicle; he is able to carry his daughter in his arms and enjoy the freedom that moving under his own power brings him. Each day he is dedicated to advancing his abilities. Recently he has started running again using hydraulic running knees and carbon composite running blades.
We never set limits for our patients! Patients such as Kyle, teach us that there are no limits and that each individual must make the choice to either allow them to be limited by their situation or to push the boundaries and raise the bar of possibilities each day.