Taking the first step with a prosthetic device can be daunting, but each stride brings you closer to an active lifestyle filled with the activities you enjoy.
After undergoing a below-knee amputation, many patients are concerned that they will no longer be able to enjoy their favorite pastimes. Sprinting across a tennis court for a flawless return or dodging a right hook in the boxing ring requires both mobility and durability. Fortunately for people like Derek Holcomb, Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics can provide prosthetics for sports and other high-intensity hobbies.
As a former college athlete, Derek leads an active lifestyle and works hard to stay in top physical condition. He is the first to admit that learning to use his prosthetic was an obstacle he had to scale, but today he is literally climbing mountains with the help of a uniquely designed Wildwood LimbLogic device. The team of orthotists at Horton’s is proud to provide prosthetics for sports enthusiasts who refuse to stand on the sidelines.
We invited Derek to share more about his journey through the interview below:
What prosthetic devices do you use?
I have a Wildwood LimbLogic for my below knee amputation. The most interesting part of my prosthetic is that my device uses a vacuum system to ensure the most secure fit. I charge my prosthetic each night and with the help of inner seals, the device is able to constantly regulate air pressure for the proper fit.
What activities, interests, or hobbies do you enjoy?
I was an athlete in college, and I am still very interested in sports, of course. I am still pretty active, participating in activities like baseball, tennis, and boxing. I enjoy going out with friends and traveling. I’ve also played guitar for years, and I love seeing live music.
Do you have a favorite memory from any of these activities?
Each time I climb Pinnacle Mountain is satisfying, of course. Obviously, I was the only amputee in my boxing class. However, my favorite memory is simply the camaraderie we enjoyed on my men’s baseball team in the summer of 2015. My amputation was not a novelty to my teammates. Instead, they saw me as one of the guys with our shared goals of individual and team success.
How long have you been a Horton’s patient?
I have been a patient of Horton’s from the time I was released from the hospital following my injury. I was immediately drawn to the personalities and candor of Mike and Chris, and I chose Horton’s as my prosthetic provider. The accessibility, friendliness, and creativity of the Horton’s team would difficult to match in our mutual goal of optimizing my prosthetic.
What were the most difficult and rewarding parts of learning to use your prosthetic device?
Waiting to take that first step in my prosthetic was very difficult, and in my experience, skin issues delayed that wait even further. That was frustrating. Obviously, building up strength, particularly with the skin of the residual limb, is a process, and oftentimes a frustrating one. The reward of being strong enough to be able to do whatever I’d like physically makes it all worthwhile, even with occasional setbacks along the way.
What is one piece of advice you would give new amputees?
Things do get better. I had a very difficult few years, but I am in great shape now. I now can do all the things that I would have done before my injury. My mother told me upon my amputation that, as part of this new demographic, I would have the opportunity to meet new and great people that I otherwise would not have. That’s borne out to be true. I have met some amazing people along the journey of this chapter in my life. Certainly, I would have never imagined that I would be an amputee, but the silver linings outweigh the negatives. Plus, it’s simply an interesting story and experience.
What are your life goals? How is Horton’s helping you achieve those goals?
My goal is to simply continue to grow professionally and personally. I plan to continue to be active and continue to travel. Horton’s allows me to be myself by continually fine-tuning my prosthetic and building new prosthetics to alleviate any issues that I may have. I appreciate their accessibility and friendliness in keeping me moving forward. Oftentimes, I meet people who have no idea I am an amputee until I mention it hours later. Something as simple as normalcy is a compliment to me and a testament to the work of the crew at Horton’s.
For more information about prosthetic options for amputees, contact Horton’s Orthotics & Prosthetics at 501-683-8889.