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As 13-year-old Travis carries his 60-pound sousaphone in his school’s marching band, he reflects on the journey that has made it possible for him to participate alongside his friends. To Travis, lugging the heavy instrument is a source of pride. For a time, simply walking was difficult. Standing in formation for extended periods of time at band practice, an impossibility.

Travis was born with his right foot turned inward so severely that he was forced to walk on his ankle. Multiple attempts to correct his foot were made, including a full foot release which proved unsuccessful. When Travis was 1, a family friend’s recommendation brought Travis's family to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville.

There, Travis’s plan of care involved an extensive study in the hospital’s motion analysis center, a high-tech laboratory where a patient’s gait (walking pattern) is recorded using a number of motion capture cameras and reflective markers. Then, special software analyzes the data captured. Once the study is complete, orthopaedic surgeons, and others, meet to evaluate the data and the physician determines a course of action. Doctors knew Travis would have less pain and would be able to live a normal life full of sports and other activities if his right foot were amputated. 

In January 2004, his parents faced the difficult decision of allowing the amputation. John, Travis’s father, remembers the support and counsel he received and that, once the decision was made, the relief in knowing he had chosen the best course for his son. Soon after his surgery, Travis was fitted with his first prosthesis. Physical therapy at the hospital ensured he regained his full strength after surgery and that he optimized his movements using his new foot. As he outgrows each prosthesis, Travis returns to Shriners Hospitals for Children — Greenville to be fitted for a new one.

Today he is able to ride his bike for hours at a time through his hometown of Saltbille, Virginia. He also proudly marches in his high school’s band. Travis’s dad says, “To watch him you would never know he wears a prosthetic. He keeps up with the others so well.”

And the band sounds even sweeter when Travis’s sousaphone joins in.

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