Matt Riniker, who, despite an ATV accident that ended up taking one of his legs, continues to stay active and has big plans for the future.
Early on Sept. 9, 2009, Matt woke up to complete his early morning farm chores. He was helping out his dad, Randy, who had hurt his back the night before. Matt rode a four-wheeler the three miles to the farm, completed his chores and was on his way back when disaster struck.
“I must have hit a bump and my leg must have been under the foot rest,” Matt said. “When I came out of the daze, I was on the ground and the four-wheeler on its side about 50 feet away. I thought to myself, ‘Brush it off’ and I tried to stand up. I instantly knew I had broken my right leg below the knee.”
Matt called his mom, Judy, on his cell phone, and soon she and Randy got to Matt. Judy, a nurse, knew Matt’s leg was broken when she saw it. With the help of Randy and the family’s hired hand, Mike, they splinted Matt’s leg up and took him to the hospital.
Matt had surgery, during which plates and screws were inserted into his tibia and fibula to help them mend together. However, the skin on Matt’s leg began turning black and he had to have the screws and plates removed due to infection. After 12 months with an external fixation and many infections, X-rays and antibiotics, an MRI showed that the bone in Matt’s leg had died. It was then he and his family had a decision to make: continue with the external fixation for another year, or amputate Matt’s leg. Matt decided on the amputation, with the operation occurring just over a year after his accident.
The first year after his amputation provided Matt with many challenges. As he was still active on the farm and in sports, he had to go through a number of sleeves and liners. He also developed painful sores that forced him to sit out his junior year of football. Working with CPO Travis Carlson at the Dubuque office, it was determined Matt needed two prosthetics: one for home use and the other for school and sports.
Since then, Matt has gone back to doing a lot of the things he enjoys: playing football, baseball, basketball, farming, hunting and more. While there are still difficulties, Matt said he’s gotten used to them, and the Clark & Associates staff at the Dubuque office has been a tremendous support system for him.
“There were many times it was a weekend or after hours that something happened and I needed his assistance with the prosthetic or needed advice,” Matt said. “Travis and the staff in Dubuque are always there for me and very responsive to my needs.”
Matt will graduate this coming May from Western Dubuque High School and plans to go to Kirkwood College for a two-year degree in Agricultural Management with an emphasis in Beef Science. He plans on raising crops and beef cattle with his dad after that, eventually looking to take over the business.