FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "My vehicle hit an anti-tank mine, which detonated under the right front wheel. It pretty much blew off the whole right half of the vehicle," Fort Drum soldier Roy Mitchell said of his experience in Afghanistan. (USA)
Mitchell was less than 24 hours into his third tour of duty overseas. And in minutes it was all over. Mitchell lost his leg that day and he's been on the long road of rehab ever since.
"I really thought at one point I would never take and carry my kids," Mitchell said.
Thanks to his time at Walter Reed, Mitchell says he's been able to help test some of the new products for amputees. The most recent is called the Rheo knee and yet to hit the market, it's in essence a computer knee he's been testing at Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics in Watertown.
Amputee Fort Drum soldier testing computerized knee
Learning to live after war has been a struggle for soldiers all over the country. But it can get even harder when the mental damage is combined with physical. Our Brian Dwyer has the story of one man who turned the loss of a leg into hopefully helping thousands of others in his situation.
"This is kind of your hybrid, your Formula 1 of prosthetics right now because it's just the latest and greatest technology on the market," Mitchell said. "It actually learns how you walk and the way that you're walking. Actually, the computer will take over and as you change your speed of walking, it changes to match your speed."
"He's a great candidate to wear the different versions because he's so intelligent, strong and active. He's able to really put them through the process," Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics CPO Roger Howard added.
And if all that technology wasn't enough, you can control it all using a wireless PDA.
"You can control the rate that a person is able to sit," Howard said. "You can control the rate at which the knee will buckle going down and incline. You can also control the rate at which it moves forward. You can control the height."
"It really brings back a lot of the normal activities that I did when I had my leg," Mitchell added.
And thanks in part to Mitchell's testing, these new computer limbs are becoming something that insurance companies are beginning to recognize.
"The documentation and justification for the use of these computer knees is there. It's plain scientific data. It shows the facts that indeed they are necessitated," Howard added.
These knees aren't for everyone. Howard says elderly patients would be better off with the regular ones. But he does say it won't be long before they become the norm for most.
Mitchell and Howard say they'll find out much more about the knee and how much better it is than previous versions in the coming months.
Von: 14.05.2009, http://news10now.com/content/all_news/watertownnorth_country/369878/amputee-fort-drum-soldier-testing-computerized-knee/Default.aspx