Brian Tobias continues to take on new and exciting challenges everyday. He is a 31 year old mechanic student with an extraordinary story. He has an honorable past as a Navy veteran serving as a Gunner’s Mate which involves maintenance and servicing of weapons. Additionally, he also trained recent enlistees on the use and care of these weapons.
In November 2014, he met with an unfortunate motorway collision. Though he was able to save his passenger’s life, Brian lost his right leg.
Brian recalls his post-amputation struggles with his socket.
”Immediately after my revision surgery, I was battling 8 hours of pain on a daily basis. I struggled with a poor socket fit and was limited to a few hours of activity. Moreover, I had skin issues and bone spurs. I struggled with this for four years, during which my orthopedist would say- Get a better socket or we’ll cut you higher. When the single one contraption that was supposed to grant me mobility is actually hindering it, I had to look for something better.”
Brian’s prosthetist introduced him to osseointegration and bone-anchored prosthesis. Coincidentally, his prosthetist’s spouse had received an Osseointegration surgery himself. When Brian saw the speed and ease with which he handled his prosthesis, he knew he wanted the procedure for himself.
In 2018, he met with Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Jonathan Forsberg who heads the Osseointegration Program at Walter Reed Bethesda along with Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kyle Potter. They presented Brian with two options for the choice of implant. After listening to the history of the devices, he chose the OPRA Implant System.
Brian received the OPRA Implant System in a two-stage surgical procedure at Walter Reed, Bethesda. The Stage One (S1) surgery involves implanting the fixture into the bone. After a healing period which typically takes 6 months, the second stage of surgery (S2) involves inserting the Abutment into the Fixture. The abutment protrudes from the stump and serves as an anchor for the prosthetic foot. However, Brian received an accelerated protocol where his S2 surgery took place after a short three months. This was after evaluating the level of integration and stability between the bone and the titanium implant (Fixture).
One of the things Brian is most excited about is proprioception- learning to be aware of the position and movement of his prosthetic limb. He refers to the new awareness as relearning his body like a new toy. His functionality and recovery has reached a point where he can seamlessly correct the problems with his broken prosthetic knee with his improved functionality.
Today Brian enjoys an active life and describes himself as a full-time gym rat doing 30 minutes of physical therapy and working on restoring his functionality and strengthening his atrophied muscles.
I am a lot more active now than I was before the military. Sometimes I forget I am missing a limb. And for me to forget that, shows how far I have come.