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4 ::  B. Binge
February of ’04 Brian was on a snowmobile one dark evening with friends—headed up Vail Pass for some backcountry skiing. As they passed a large snow grooming machine something went wrong and Brian ended up in the path of the groomer—and was run over. The groomer was towing an implement that is essentially a monster roto-tiller to munch the snow up, then lay it out flat again.

In this case Brian’s lower left leg got munched. You can see the photos. He had some great medical help, and 9 months later when he came to me I could see that they had done a wonderful job making the best of a tough situation.

But, Brian’s foot now had moderately serious swelling, limited range of motion, the calcaneous (the heel bone) was now peaked toward the back so it hurt in a normal shoe, the foot was turned at an odd angle in relation to the floor, and the leg was a little short compared to the other.

All in all it made walking laborious, and at times painful, and normal shoes would not work.

Previously, Brian had been a very active fellow: biking, hiking, snowboarding, climbing, kayaking, and served on a mountain search and rescue team. We started to work with Brian on a Monday morning. We spent about 3 hours for me to understand everything that was going on with his feet, carefully understanding the recommendations for orthotics and footwear from his Physical Therapist, and making a plan of action.

I then made a cast of the left foot and measured both feet.

While I was making custom lasts—I sent Brian to town shopping for a pair of below-the-ankle athletic or hiking shoes. We finished out the day fabricating an appliance that slips into the left shoe making a proper interface between his foot and the ground---and accommodates the “peakedness” of his heel bone without rubbing or pain. The sole of the left shoe was “rockered” giving the shoe more motion to accommodate the limited range of motion, and raised to accommodate the short leg. Plus, an orthotic for the right foot. Brian was estatic—he thought that he would never wear a pair of stock shoes again!

The next morning we went to work on hiking boots, starting with custom patterns. You can see from the photos that even given the differences between his feet, the boots look remarkably the same. You can see Brian trying on the new boots. By Thursday mid-day I had him on the way home. He still has a long way to go with Physical Therapy, but we were both delighted with the outcome at this point.
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