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After losing both his legs to a rare form of meningococcal disease, Dell Miller vowed to return to running. Before, going for a run required little more than a pair of Mizuno Wave Riders. Now, it would require something far more advanced.
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“Dell, from day one, had goals for running,” says Matthew Mills of Hanger Clinic. “I was excited to work with him, to get him back doing what he loves to do. That is our job – as prosthetists, they come into our clinic and they are looking for restoration, to return and restore patients to activities they previously did, and in some cases more.”
Dell wanted more. His victory-lap ambitions included marathons around the world – his way of showing he had not only overcome adversity, but transformed into a new and improved version of himself.
But first, he needed a new and improved version of his legs. Standard prosthetics, which have a full-length foot and heel, are too heavy and clumsy for running. As a team, Matt and Dell developed a customized pair of running blades made of lightweight carbon fiber. Just like selecting a perfect pair of running shoes, Dell considered everything from footstrike to flexibility. Many of the same technological ideals of his favorite Mizuno Wave Riders, like cushioning and energy transfer, applied to running blades.
Dell immersed himself in the design process. Every detail was selected with care and consideration. He could even customize his own stature:
“In Dell’s case, since both legs were amputated, he had a unique ability. While I was talking to Dell and having him walk, I asked him, “How tall do you want to be?” He had a huge smile, and gave his height requirement. I told him that over time, as he familiarized himself with a prosthesis and learning to walk again, I would continue to increase his height, as tall as he wanted to be. Naturally, Dell was thrilled with this offer. After several months and follow-up appointments, he stands right around 5 feet, ten inches.”
With every tweak and every follow-up visit, the product evolved beyond just carbon fiber – they became Dell’s legs, the limbs that would make him a runner once again.
“As a new prosthetic user, you don’t simply just put a prosthesis on and walk out the door and are never seen again,” says Miller. “It’s a process, and requires an excellent relationship between the prosthetist and patient. We monitor and make adjustments to ensure a perfect fit.”
As a runner, Dell knows all about a perfect fit. He found it before in the Mizuno Wave Rider, a wearable piece of technology that allowed him to go faster, farther, and more comfortably. Today, his technology has evolved to a new form – but the love of running remains the same.