“If this beginning is any indication, I have made a life changing decision for the better.”
On Oct. 20th, 2013 Vincent Harrigan was involved in a motorcycle accident. One month and four surgeries later, his left leg was removed above the knee.
After trying three other prosthetists, Vincent said he was lucky enough to be directed to Matt Bulow three years ago.
“Due to a very large amount of loose flesh on my stump I was very hard to fit for a conventional socket,” Vincent said. “Matt worked hard to find a socket that would stay a good fit on my ever-changing stump.”
He said Dr. Bulow tried everything, even adjustable sockets. It was a rough road— Vincent’s stump changed shape as often as once a week.
“It would swell and shrink so that what fit would swell and not fit, then shrink so that it did,” he said. “Some days I could not get to the bottom of my socket until after hours of wearing it and working my way down to the bottom of it.”
He said through it all, Dr. Bulow continued to work hard to help him get the right fit.
“I have and will continue to advise anyone who wants to find a dedicated prosthetist who will work for you,” he said. “Go to Matt Bulow at Bulow OPS.”
Eventually, Vincent stumbled across articles on osseointegration. He read everything he could on the subject, and the more he researched, the more it became apparent to him that this was the solution to the problems with his stump.
“The idea of walking on my own bone again just made too much sense to me. Getting rid of the socket was secondary in my mind,” he said.
Still, much of the information he found was discouraging, especially since the procedure was not readily available in the U.S. Then there was dangers of infections and failure. He also wasn’t able to find a lot of firsthand information on the procedure.
Then at the last Amputee Coalition Convention in Louisville, Kentucky, he met some individuals from Australia who were performing very successful osseointegration procedures in their home country. He checked out their website and online support group at osseointegration.com.au, and he said his heart soared.
“Here were many individuals who had had the procedure and were full of nothing but praise,” he said. “Some with several years with the insert and some who were very new to it. By all accounts with an over 97 percent success rate.”
Still, Vincent was cautious not to believe everything he read online, so he reached out to some of the patients on the website. He said their enthusiasm and excitement were undeniable. He booked a trip to Australia for the procedure, including an apartment for him to live in for four weeks as he recovered.
He had the surgery performed just over a month ago.
“It was a bit more painful than I expected,” he said, noting that he also didn’t take all the pain mediation provided, and switched to just Tylenol after leaving the hospital.
He is now free of pain and is “more than just pleased with the results so far.”
“If this beginning is any indication, I have made a life changing decision for the better,” he said. “ I am now one of those happy individuals on the website.”
He said Dr. Bulow is still his prosthetist, and has been very supportive throughout this process.
“I know of no one better,” he said.