Hi. My name is Tom Hampton. I am 53 years old. I grew up in Manhattan Beach. Growing up in Southern California allowed me to excel at the sports that would ultimately shape my life - snow skiing, water skiing and surfing. I played football for 10 years. I received my Red Cross Advanced First Aid card at thirteen so I could be on the National Ski Patrol as a junior patrolman. The taste of rescue led me to a career as a firefighter. For 30 years, I was able to help others in dire situations. How rewarding is that! I began paragliding at the age of 45. I advanced to the top of the sport, becoming a Tandem Instructor with the United States Hang Gliding Paragliding Association.
After seven years of flying, one sunny day in August 2007, I crashed. The injuries I sustained from the 50 foot fall out of the sky would change my life forever. I suffered multiple fractures, head trauma and serious injury to my spinal cord. Not only did I lose participation in all my physical sports, this would be the accident that ended my beloved career in the fire service. I have escaped death many times, both on and off the job, but never have I been so close to not coming back than after crashing my paraglider. Literally, I have a second chance in life.
The two weeks I lay unconscious in the ICU fighting for my life put my wife, Patricia, through something I would not wish on anyone. Patricia has been by my side supporting me through it all, the first 3 weeks in the hospital, followed by another month in an acute inpatient rehabilitation facility, then starting outpatient physical therapy 3 days a week to rebuild my broken body. Yet, somehow it just wasn''t enough. We were struggling and determined to find focus and direction toward my physical recovery that the medical community seemed unable to give. Then, six months post-injury, we found Project Walk®.
Project Walk® has guided the rebuilding of my strength and mobility. Training at Project Walk® has helped me to grow physically. I feel I will be able to help others again someday.
No matter how determined you are or hard you work, you cannot rush or hurry nerve regeneration. But, you can condition your muscles to fight off atrophy and to stimulate the nerves giving them a path to rebuild. My body seems to continue to regularly regain sensation and function. I need constant fine-tuning adjusting my workout routine to successfully guide the development of my ambulatory muscles and nerve regeneration.
In June of 2009, I was introduced to Ron Merritt of Human Designs. As a result of my injuries, I still have not yet regained feeling or motor control below my knees. Ron fitted me with “Blue Rockers” to help me to be able to walk longer distances with more speed in spite of this challenge. This AFO (ankle foot orthotic) is lighter and more streamlined than the custom AFO’s I had previously worn. The “Blue Rocker” is made out of carbon fiber and can be left in the shoe. It provides lateral support for my ankles, improves my foot placement and standing stability, giving me more confidence in my gait. Ron at Human Designs is a Prosthetic and Orthotic Specialist and is very thorough and personable. Ron custom fit my Blue Rockers to make them even more streamlined and comfortable for me.
There is no greater feeling or reward than to save someone’s life. I strive for the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives again. I''ve never been a person big on crowds or fanfare, but my rock solid desire to help others has always been true. My goal and reward in life is to help and serve others. Thanks to Ron at Human Designs for helping me to move closer to my goals.