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When Army Staff Sargent Dave Gardner was struck by a vehicle in Iraq, his world changed forever. The injured Utah native was placed in a medically-induced coma and surgeons determined that amputating his right leg below the knee was necessary. When he finally awoke,16 days after the attack that maimed him, Dave was a changed man.
He was also determined. A father of two sons and a baby daughter born less than a week after he woke up from his coma, Dave found great motivation to move forward for his kids. He sought out Joe Mahon, a local prosthetist, who had improved the mobility of a fellow vet amputee.
The timing was good. Joe had recently developed an adjustable prosthetic using the dial lacing system he’d pilfered from his wife’s snowboard boot. That dial would eventually morph into the Click Reel, by Click Medical, the revolutionary dial which perfects the fit of prostheses and orthoses by allowing users to customize their systems with macro and micro adjustments.
“Joe and I hit it off,” Dave said. “I gladly became his test dummy.”
Through trial and error, the men achieved something incredible: creating a prosthesis that both accommodated Dave’s long hours driving as a medical courier and also enabled him to share his love of the outdoors with his family. Dave’s current prosthesis comes with the revamped RevoFit Kit and is the most comfortable one, to date. “I love being able to adjust my socket in both directions,” he said. “Now every time I sit down or drive, I loosen my socket just a little, which makes all the difference. Being able to tighten or loosen my fit allows me to stay within my comfort range much easier, rather than releasing all the tension and starting over every time I need to loosen my socket.”
The system has also improved Dave’s experience with his favorite pastime, hunting. He and his 14-year-old daughter recently went on her first archery hunt. Previously, Dave would have had to remove his leg while waiting in the stand. “But with the new Click Reel, I can release the lace, loosening the pressure but leaving my leg in place, and then quickly tighten it up when I need to.”
The two missed the buck they had in their sights, but that was no cause for disappointment. “It’s not about the tag, it’s about being outdoors, ” he said. They look forward to going out again this season with their tag for a bull elk. Knowing that he can go for longer and be more comfortable in the field, Dave is optimistic about their chances.