Tom Smurr is a member of Vital Proteins®' Customer Advocate Team. Here, he details his journey to his first run using his new prosthetic leg. All views are his own.
My life with prosthetic limbs has always been one of learning, strengthening, and moving (the best I can). Recently, prosthetics have progressed in an amazing way, offering opportunities to people like me looking to try new things.
I was born with proximal femoral focal deficiency, a long way of saying “no complete femur.” For most of my life, I was told some things I could kind of do, while other things were off the table. I have grown with prosthetic advancements in science and wheelchairs. But given my unique disability and not being a “traditional” amputee made many of these devices less than optimal. At best, I’d wear a prosthetic for 6-8 hours as I’d need to remove it due to skin irritations, pain, and overall discomfort. One activity certainly off the table? Running.
Expanding My Athletic World
Flash forward to the beginning of 2019. I’m a college graduate with two collegiate wheelchair basketball championships wins under my belt. I even got to play professionally overseas in Italy. But as I grew older, I felt like I needed a new endeavor. Something to help me stay healthy and grow stronger. I ventured into endurance sport and explored half-marathons and triathlons (using a wheelchair of course).
At first, I thought that I’d be going the route of using a sport-racing wheelchair and hand-cycle, but quickly learned this was not what I wanted. I was approached by an amazing doctor through a paratriathlon group Dare2Tri in Chicago. Dr. David Rotter convinced me prosthetics are where I need them to be. He told me for the first time in my life, there was no doubt in his mind I could run, and he could make me that prosthetic. I was stunned.
How could I not sign up? I started the process of getting a new leg made and started heavily training the muscles I do have. That’s where Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides first came in. Having the extra dose of protein to simply add in my coffee really helped me keep up without majorly changing my diet.
New Legs, New Me
I eventually received my new walking prosthetic. As I waited for the running prosthetic to be made (they have different blades on the bottom to jump on), I started walking all the time. I still limited myself as I didn’t want to do too much, too fast and injure anything. Usually, this results in back pain and skin issues. That’s when I noticed: I hadn’t had one skin problem. All prosthetics are supposed to come with skin irritations, dryness, blisters, building calluses, and more. I had to give credit to the collagen I was taking since it was the biggest change I made to my diet and lifestyle.
Having no limitations to wear the device has expedited my training and prepped my body for running in a great way. I climbed a mountain. I walked a mile. I biked with both legs. And now, I have my running prosthetic! I have successfully run for the first time. It’s exhilarating but also challenging. Knowing that I have collagen to support me, my journey through training has been much smoother than expected.
It’s incredible knowing that my journey for mobility will be a less bumpy road. Incorporating Vital Proteins has now become a staple to my training. It’s been as simple as adding a scoop of Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides to my morning coffee or adding our flavored Collagen Peptides to a post-workout smoothie.
Now, who wants to go running?