Mitch Valize recently graduated from Maastricht University and is an intern at a research laboratory in Amsterdam. During his mother's pregnancy his left leg did not develop properly which resulted in a shorter upper and lower leg in addition to a missing fibula in his lower leg. A few years ago Mitch made the decision to have his leg amputated so that a better prosthesis could be made for him.
He became increasingly curious about the world of prostheses. How does the foot work? What are the advantages, and would this be an option for him? In the time before the amputation and during the rehabilitation process, he researched a lot of information on the internet about different kinds of prostheses and parts.
"As a young kid, you want to be limitless. The prosthesis must be functional at your level, but of course it can also look a bit cool. That is why I always discuss all my ideas, questions and remarks with my prosthetist and physiotherapist. They know me the best and know exactly what is good for me and what is not.
Lots of people ask about my opinion and experience and I do like to give them advice, but I still think you must experience it for yourself. Everyone is different and what one person finds pleasant, another may find terrible."
"Since the foot amputation in 2015, all barriers have really disappeared. The most important thing for me is that the pain symptoms are now gone, allowing me to function even better than before, because there are more prosthetic options for me now. The kind of prosthesis I use since the last surgery is much lighter, better and more beautiful than the previous versions. Technology is also advancing so quickly. Prosthetic feet are becoming more functional, so the gait pattern is also beginning to look more like that of a "normal" person. This makes functioning easier and gives me more self-confidence. Also, the possibility of a sports prosthesis with a blade, for example, makes it possible for me to run just like people with two healthy legs.
A big advantage in my opinion is that I learned to function with a prosthesis from an early age. I just don't know any better. For me, the prosthesis is very normal, it is part of who I am. I don't feel comfortable without it. I've always done everything with my prosthetics, from walking to running and from cycling to playing soccer. If you ask me, the big advantage of having a prosthesis is the fact that you always have a topic of conversation. You may get looked at a lot when you walk around town in shorts, for example, but people are curious about the story behind the guy with such a high-tech leg.
In my free time, I do a lot of sports. I like to go for a run, but most of my time is spent handbiking. Handbiking is a discipline of paralympic cycling where the bike is driven with the arms. I'm pretty good at it and I'm also on the Dutch talent team. My goal is to participate in the Paralympic Games in Tokyo."
“What I would like to advise you is not to look at what you can't do, but to look at what you can do! Believe me, you can do so much more than you think. Don't be afraid, just do it! With the right will and a good portion of motivation everyone can reach his or her goal!”