A drummer who was seriously hurt in a bus crash whilst on tour with his band, is fighting his way through therapy by doing what he loves, keeping the beat.
The metalcore band The Ghost Inside was headed to another concert venue in November when life took a devastating turn. Their bus was involved in a head-on crash with a semi-truck just outside of El Paso, Texas.
Drummer Andrew Tkaczyk was sleeping before the crash and woke to find himself in wreckage. He wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to drum again after sustaining extensive injuries — 51 in all, including the loss of his right leg, which is critical to his drumming career.
“There was definitely a point where I was still telling myself, ‘Yes, you can do it and we’ll make it work,’ but there was definitely doubt in my mind, like, what if it doesn’t?” he said. “What if I can’t play drums ever again? And it’s a terrifying thought.”
Luckily, Andrew’s Doctor, Dr. Stephen Bloom had a hidden passion of playing the drums himself. So, about three weeks into it, he brought in a pair of drumsticks and put them in Andrew’s right hand.
During rehabilitation sessions, Andrew uses a specialized prosthesis to play the drums. A creative recreational therapist helped modify Andrew’s leg prosthesis so he could press the pedal that works the bass drum.
In daily life however, he uses the Infinite Socket, and Genium X3 knee combination to walk. None of this would have been possible if LIMLegend Irene Blum hadn’t sent Andrew images on the Infinite Socket and a story about another LIMLegend, Enrique Alvarez, and his recovery story two months after Andrew’s amputation.
“I brought it to my prosthetist Mark Bennett at Mary Free Bed Rehab, and he encouraged me to choose something that I feel comfortable with. It’s comforting to know that they were considering all these options. Everything to do with amputation was new to me, and Mark reassured me that i will have full control of my prosthetic choices.
I was already up and walking around in a check socket, using an Ottobock c-leg on therapy days. I had been using it for about six weeks and the time came for me to step up and use my own leg.
Mark got the cast mould of my leg and sent it to the folks at LIM. Within a couple of weeks I was fit with the Infinite Socket and straight off the bat was up and walking. I needed a few adjustments to correct my alignment, but following a few tweaks, I felt great. Steve Hoover the clinical specialist for LIM, provided a demonstration on how to adjust the brim whilst I was walking, which has proven to be a huge benefit.
The whole scenario for me was seriously night and day. I lost a lot of volume over the first two months. My limb was slipping out from the check socket. It was slowing me down and i wasn’t getting anywhere, then all of a sudden I had this socket that felt like a part of my body. It didn’t feel like a prosthetic. It was infinitely… (no pun intended) right off the bat, more comfortable. The ratchet strap has to be my favorite feature. I can loosen the socket by my upper thigh with just a few clicks of the ratchet.
It was hard, because when I had first woken up I didn’t know who was OK or who was hurt or even alive or not, and it was difficult. But having such a wonderful team at Mary Free Bed and state of the art prosthetics has given me the opportunity to go on tour again. The bandmates and I have big plans. We are scattered throughout the country recovering, but we keep in touch daily online through whatsapp and encourage each other. We are planning on being ready to return to the stage for the “Van’s Warped Tour” in 2017.”
Andrew’s prosthetist Mark Bennett had this to say. “Working with Andrew and being part of his healing process here at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is extremely rewarding. From our initial visit and being present when Andrew took his first steps on a prosthesis, to watching him progress to the Infinite Socket and re-gain his independence is what it’s all about. Steve Hoover and the LIM team have been with Andrew and I every step of the way with great information and recommendations to ensure continued prosthetic success.”