Today, I am honored to share with you a special story about Hanger Clinic ExoSym (IDEO) patient, Tom, an amazing guy who continues to defy the odds.

In November 2014, while mowing the lawn at his home in Massachusetts, Tom’s left foot got caught in the blade… Eleven surgeries later as infection set in, doctors insisted on performing a below the knee amputation, but Tom fought to keep his leg. The day before his scheduled amputation, doctors were able to stop the infection, but multiple skin grafts were required to heal the wound. The traumatic injury left Tom with severe limitations and the inability to lead the active lifestyle he once had – but for Tom, he still had his leg.  A few months later, as he pressed on through rehab, a friend happened to put Tom in touch with ExoSym patient, Phil Stevens, who convinced Tom to take a look at the device. Phil’s daughter Nellie, a prosthetist at the Hanger Clinic, was the first to evaluate Tom and put him in touch with Ryan Blanck at the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, WA. In July 2015, five months after Tom’s last surgery, he received his ExoSym device – a day that changed his life forever. ♥

Tom has had his ExoSym for about nine months now and says the device has not only returned him back to his active lifestyle, which includes most everything he did before his injury, but most notably back to snow skiing – one of his greatest passions & something he was told he would never be able to do again after the lawn mowing accident. As a civil engineer, Tom is on his feet during the day and thanks to the ExoSym device, can stand and walk for long periods of time.

Tom hitting the slopes in his ExoSym!

Tom’s advice to other patients is to remember that the device doesn’t define your limits, you do. Take it wherever it will take you and enjoy it. ☺ For Tom, seeing what other patients have done ahead of him inspires him to keep aiming higher. Learning from their experiences gives him confidence in the ability of the device and the belief that anything is possible. For shoes, Tom likes the Asics brand and sports the Zensah sleeves and Dr. Comfort socks. He enjoys staying active and loves walking – knowing that it is truly a gift many people take for granted.  If there is one thing he would say to Ryan Blanck, it would be to thank him for always being there anytime he has a question. In Tom’s words, “Ryan is an amazing person who really cares about his patients and has made what has been one of the worst times in my life, bearable.” And to his fellow patients, Tom would like to thank them too. Tom is grateful to all the people with the device who share their experiences – for it is in these stories, that Tom finds strength and inspiration.

So what’s next for Mr. Tom? This guy has his eyes set on playing hockey again and getting back on the rink! Living by the motto, “Never say never” Tom is defying the odds of every person who told him he would never walk, run, hike, golf, ski – or play hockey again and there is NO stopping him now!

Tom back in action!

Thank you, Tom, for sharing your story and reminding us that no matter what happens in life and no matter how many people tell you it can’t be done – always believe in yourself and never give up.  Never say never. ♥

#beYOU #beAMAZING #ExoSymplyAmazing


  1. Hey Tom, I’m so happy for you!!! You have been an inspiration to my best friend Ricky. He was in a really bad accident almost a year ago. He fell parasailing from almost 80ft onto rocks. Doctors told him he was never going to walk again. Well he is walking again!!!! But he is struggling and in tons of pain. He just wants to start living life again. His insurance will not cover this brace? As a nurse, I’m having a hard time understanding this. Do you have any advice for us? We would appreciate it so much!!! I want to see him happy and out of pain. Thank you so much for being an inspiration.


    1. Hi Emily! Thanks for reaching out. Tom is an inspiration & I will make sure to let him know of your comment. 🙂 I’ll follow up with an email to you as well!


  2. Tom was the first fellow patient I met in Gig Harbor a few weeks ago. He and his wife Sharon are truly amazing people. Tom really took me under his wing and answered every question I had. He was a sounding board, training partner and now a friend. He will skate again and I can’t wait to hear how he feels getting back on the ice. Keep killing it!

    Liked by 1 person

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