Zack Patterson is a 14 year old male who was born with a left foot congenital deformity. At the age of ten months, it was determined that he would benefit from a below-the-knee amputation. When Zack was 4, he began to play sports in a regular below-the-knee prosthetic. Despite needing a prosthetic leg, he never allowed it to slow him down from keeping up with the other kids.
During his eighth grade year, he continued playing football and competed the best he could, as though he had two normal legs. It was at this point that he noticed, for the first time, that his prosthetic leg was not allowing him to keep up with the other athletes. Unfortunately, the prosthetic leg that he uses was made for everyday use. It is not sufficient for sporting activities.
At this point, the family determined they would need a new, more advanced prosthetic leg. One, which could allow him to continue his sporting career through high school, and beyond. There are many prosthetic legs on the market that are made for athletic competition.
The family tried five times to have insurance pay for this type of athletic prosthetic leg. The more advanced, athletic prosthetic leg was looked at as a luxury by insurance, and therefore deemed medically unnecessary. Zack continued playing sports to the best of his ability, while dealing with the reality that he may not ever get to get an advanced prosthesis.
In July of 2017, their close friend, John Barabash, decided to see if he could help the family. He contacted me in order to determine if there was anything I could do. John and I were on the Canton SWAT Team together. Once hearing the story, I knew that there had to be something I could do.
I reached out to Craig Jackman, a local representative for Hanger Prosthetics. With very little hesitation, Craig informed me that he was 90% sure they could help Zack. Zack’s parents were told that there was a high possibility Zack could get the athletic prosthetic leg, however, there was no guarantee. It was determined at that point that they would not tell Zack.
In the middle of August, Zack’s parents brought him to my office to talk about his prosthetic leg. He wasn’t excited to come to the office, as had to miss the first football scrimmage of his freshman season. Behind the scenes, his parents made sure everybody on the coaching staff knew what was happening this day. His coaches were more than excited to allow him miss the scrimmage to come to my office.
Zack arrived to my office, thinking that we were going to take pictures of his prosthetic leg for the Ohio Athletic Association. His mother, father, Zack, and I had a normal consultation. I asked Zack his entire story. I then asked Zack why he had plans to stop his athletic career. He explained that he was unable to obtain a prosthetic leg that would allow him to keep up with the other football players on the field. I asked him why he didn’t try to get the insurance company to pay for the prosthetic leg. He explained what I already knew: insurance wouldn’t allow it.
At this point, the family friend, and the Hanger Rep entered the room. Zack looked shocked, and wondered what was going on. As, the room quieted down, I said, “Your football career is not over. Hanger Prosthetics, through their generosity, will make sure you have the best athletic prosthetic leg so that you can continue your career.” Zack put his hands on his head, looked towards the ground, and simply said, “I feel like I’m in a dream.” He was shocked, and as his eyes filled with tears, thanked John, Craig, and I over and over.
Craig explained to Zack and his family the process of obtaining his new athletic prosthetic leg. I looked at Zack and told him that he should cherish the fact that he will have the opportunity to show other amputee children that there are no limits to what they can do. Zack is now in the process of prosthetic fitting for his new athletic prosthetic leg.
Soon, you will see Zack back on the football field as beast mode begins.