In August of 2003, Tristan Wyatt was forced to rethink every aspect of his life. While serving in Fallujah, Iraq, he sustained an above-the-knee amputation in his right leg after his armored personnel carrier was pierced by an enemy anti-tank rocket. While he had planned for a career in the Army, the injury led Tristan to take a drastically different route. In addition to impacts to his career, the injury also prompted a change in his hobbies and his perception of happiness. Tristan described himself as a deeply physical person prior to the amputation, stating, “I experienced the world with my body.” He says he now experiences the world in different ways: “I’ve explored subjects, states of consciousness, the experiences of others, and parts of the world that would have likely never occurred to me had the amputation not occurred.”
Tristan currently works in the engineering department at the US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition, he has volunteered with the Range of Motion Project (ROMP), which aims to provide underserved populations with high quality prosthetic care. Most recently, Tristan participated in Climbing for ROMP. As an avid outdoorsman who enjoys hiking and camping, this fundraiser fit nicely into his interests. He and a group of amputees climbed Mount Cotopaxi, a 19,347ft peak in the Andes Mountains, to provide artificial limbs for 50 Ecuadorians.
Several years ago, while working for the VA with prosthetics in San Diego, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP) contacted Tristan. He has since participated in the Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes Research Program (OPORP) Programmatic Review panel as a consumer reviewer, and also has served as a consumer peer reviewer for other CDMRP programs. Tristan states that in his 15 years in the prosthetics industry, his commitment to the OPORP Programmatic Review panel is one of his most meaningful roles. He describes having a hand in shaping the future of treatment as a great honor.
Tristan feels that from a patient perspective, the importance of the Department of Defense OPORP to the prosthetics field and community cannot be overstated. He appreciates having the scientific community on the side of consumers and loves seeing them work hard and selflessly toward a goal that will give his friends and himself happier lives. He describes the opportunity to witness the work being done for his community as breathtaking. “Knowing what this team sets out to achieve, and the caliber of minds that are collected to solve such important problems, fills me with hope for the future.”
Last updated Monday, January 3, 2022