Ever since he was a child, Bryan Green had a knack and love for driving racecars.
“Bryan started racing at 5 years old,” Ron Green, Bryan’s dad and spokesperson, told O&P Business News. “Most kids at that age start in Go Karts, but Bryan started drag racing. He had such an eye for it, such a reaction time with drag racing. He was beating adults who had been doing it for 15 to 20 years. He found a niche in there and that was something he loved to do.”
Bryan moved from drag racing to racing modified stock cars and finally moved up into a sportsman modified car. He is a four-time national United States champion, a two-time Canadian champion, has 14 track championships and a number of regional championships. But his speed and natural talent are not the only things that set him apart from other racers. Bryan is also a transtibial amputee.
On June 20, 2013, Bryan was involved in a jet ski accident on the Oswegatchie River in New York. Rushed to the hospital, Bryan and his parents soon had to make a tough decision.
“We had to make the decision to [amputate his leg] because of massive infections that were spreading and basically killing him,” Green said. “We [amputated the leg] and the whole time Bryan was in the hospital he was trying to figure out different ways to make the prosthetic leg work. Whatever it was going to take to get him back in the car and to be able to run the controls.”
Getting back to racing
After 43 days, Bryan was released from the hospital and immediately started working on cars again.
“When he came out of the hospital, he was ready to get right back in the car,” Green said. “He didn’t even have his prosthetic leg, yet. He was in the race shop in his wheelchair looking in the car and trying to figure out what to do with it.”
But Bryan did not have long to wait on his prosthetic leg. Only a few days after being released from the hospital, he and his dad met with Roger Howard, CPO, of Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics, to discuss what they were looking for in a prosthesis.
“I didn’t realize how much racing meant to Bryan until after I got talking to him and his father,” Howard said. “Racing is one of those things that defines this young man.”
To make sure Bryan would be able to control his racecar easily and comfortably, Howard and one of his technicians drove to the Greens’ garage in Heuvelton, N.Y., to perform a dynamic alignment with Bryan sitting in the car frame.
“If you look at his sound side when he is in this roll cage, his sound limb is flexed at the knee and a tight fit,” Howard said. “As the amputee being in a confined area where you really have to flex your knee or bend your knee it is uncomfortable. So we were able to set this leg and set the angles where his knee is in a more comfortable, relaxed position on his left side than on his right.”
As Bryan climbs through the car window to get into the vehicle, he removes his everyday prosthesis on his left leg and secures the residual limb into the racing prosthesis, which is bolted on the brake pedal. With some extra work, the Greens were able to relieve the pressure the weight of his left leg would apply to the brakes so Bryan would not be riding the brakes while driving.
“Roger built what we needed and we brought it home and did some adjustments and modifications to get it to fit in the car perfectly. We have never had to adjust it again,” Green said. “It performs well, it is comfortable for Bryan to wear and it doesn’t feel any different to him than having an actual foot.”
With one of Bryan’s legs bolted into the racecar, safety became a main concern.
“Of course safety is always number one in racing or any kind of motor sport,” Green said. “We had to develop a way to release Bryan’s leg in case there was an accident where Bryan was unconscious in the car.”
To prevent Bryan becoming stuck in the car in the event that he was unconscious, Howard built a safety release on the top of his racing leg big enough for anyone to be able to see and push in case of an emergency. One push of the button and Bryan’s leg would be released from the prosthesis, allowing him to be removed from the car.
Bryan also had to acquire a new fire suit to accommodate his new leg.
“The fire suit is missing the left leg, so when Bryan gets in the car and snaps his leg in, the fire suit does not cover the leg to impede any kind of safety,” Green said. “The leg is in full view, but he is still well protected from any kind of fire emergencies.”
Although the Green family has been through a lot during the past year, they are thankful for all the help Howard and his colleagues have given them.
“We are fortunate that we have Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics behind us to take care of Bryan’s legs and to take care of him personally and to make sure he is able to do whatever it is he wants to do,” Green said. “We are confident in their abilities and they are confident by his abilities. We make a good team together and have a lot of fun and that is the major thing is to go and have fun with it… You have to have fun in what you are doing, and you got to love what you are doing.” — by Casey Tingle
Disclosures: Green and Howard have no relevant financial disclosures.