Glenn rehab

With the OPRA™ Implant System – “it only takes 8 seconds to put on my leg”

In an interview with Integrum, Concord High School social studies teacher and assistant football coach Glenn Runyon tells the story of how he lost his left leg above the knee due to osteosarcoma in 2015 and how he regained an active lifestyle.

The amputation left Glenn with a short residual limb, which caused him great difficulty while using a traditional socket-based prosthetic leg. “I’d already been through 6 sockets and two prosthetists to try different types of systems, and it just wasn’t working for me,” says Glenn, “The leg would constantly slip off. It never felt like a part of me.”

Pursuing an alternative

Soon after having his left leg amputated, Glenn heard about osseointegration and began learning all he could about the OPRA™ Implant System for above-knee amputations; which allows amputees to get rid of sockets by providing a secure and direct connection between the bone in the residual limb and the prosthesis. However, this treatment was not available in the United States in 2015. “I looked it up, and I thought this is the best thing I’ve ever seen, but unfortunately, it wasn’t an option for me at the time,” says Glenn. “Finally, in 2019, when I found out that it was available, I tried to get on board as fast as I could.”

Glenn’s first visit to the Osseointegration Clinic at Johns Hopkins was in the fall of 2019. When he found out that he was eligible for the treatment, Glenn was thrilled: “It was like a burden lifted off my shoulders. I could see that my quality of life could improve within a few months.” Glenn underwent stage one surgery in December 2019. However, due to restrictions in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, the second stage surgery was postponed until August 2020.

Thanks to John Horne, owner of Independence Prosthetics Orthotics, who made a prosthetic leg specially designed for the extended interim period, Glenn was able to regain partial mobility while waiting for the second-stage procedure. “I’ve been working with John since my amputation. To John’s credit, he made me a leg that got me all the way to August for my second surgery,” Glenn says, “Because of the COVID pandemic, the wait time between the surgeries was longer than usual, but it was worth it.”

The rehabilitation program

Following the surgical treatment, Glenn progressed steadily through rehabilitation, increasing his strength and improving the coordination in his muscles. Sarah Smith, a staff physical therapist at the University of Delaware Physical Therapy Clinic, developed an individualized recovery plan to help Glenn increase his mobility. Although Sarah regularly worked with patients with lower-limb amputations, Glenn was the first to have received a bone-anchored prosthesis. In order to address any potential issues unique to osseointegration, she was in frequent contact with Glenn’s surgeon, Dr. Jonathan Forsberg, as well as John and the staff at Independence Prosthetic Orthotics.

Image (top & right) Glenn working with Independence Prosthetics & Orthotics and the University of Delaware PT Clinic to adjust to life with his new limb. Watch this video and learn more about Glenn’s journey to recovery. (Courtesy of the University of Delaware)

A bright future ahead 

Glenn describes his experience as an OPRA™ Implant System user: “It’s really inconvenient when you lose the suction socket in a classroom in front of children. What do you do? You can’t just fix it right there, and you can’t just leave the class to go into the bathroom. So that part has been great, just to know that my leg is not gonna go anywhere.” Getting ready for work has also become faster and less stressful; with the donning of the socket, sometimes he had to readjust the liners or other components to make it work. “Now, with this type of procedure, it literally takes 8 seconds for my leg to go on. It’s in the exact same spot every day. It just makes things more predictable,” says Glenn.

“I sit normally. My posture is better. My hips have a better range of motion with no socket limitations. Everything feels better to me,” says Glenn

Since completing his rehabilitation, Glenn has fully returned to his hobby of woodworking, and coaching every full football practice and game; without switching over to crutches due to the pain and discomfort of the socket. Another sign promising a bright future is that his football team made it to the playoffs this past 2021 season.

“My leg feels like my leg. I can feel the floor under my foot. I can feel the difference between carpet and hardwood. It brings back almost a sense of normalcy.”