September 5, 2002
by Ed yeates
Undated- A new artificial leg is making life "normal" for some amputees. That's because the leg moves and reacts almost like a real leg. In fact, this amazing "C-leg" actually saved a seaport worker's life when the world trade center towers collapsed last year.
Lyle Early and Aaron Murray are walking on a new artificial leg, beyond anything above the knee amputees have had so far. The new generation C-leg is a far cry from older artificial limbs, some of which weigh as much as 17 pounds.
Just two weeks ago, Lyle took his new c-leg on a hiking trip. "And I was walking over tree branches. "I was stepping on big trunks and stepping down off and walking down hills and jumping across streams, just like it was a normal leg, just like it was a real leg."
The knee joint is what makes the limb perform so well. It has a computer inside that continually samples what the user needs, 200 times a second. "It’s really awesome because like I say, I go skiing,” said C-leg patient Aaron Murray. “I can have it in regular mode until I get up to where I want to go skiing, then I switch into stance two for the skiing. And when I get back down, I switch it back in just by clicking my toes three times."
Tapping the toes or the heels is about all it takes to change from play to work. The leg has two force sensors in the ankle that tell the computer in the knee whether the user is standing on the heel or the toe.
Thomas Andrew, President, Ability Prosthetic Systems says "It knows that, plus it has a position sensor in the knee that tells the computer where the knee is in inflection and how fast it's going, the velocity."
On sidewalks, through weeds and rocks and down a hill, down stairs or even riding a bike, this limb is as close to the real leg Aaron lost three years ago, and Lyle lost 20-years ago. "When I have long pants on, you really can't tell,” said Murray. “You walk smoothly. That’s what the leg, the leg allows you to live life, to live life and love it."
Aaron and Lyle say it's also sobering knowing this new piece of technology saved a port authority worker's life in last year's terrorist attack in New York. He rapidly walked down stairs, traversing more than 72 floors exiting the building safely just before the collapse.
For more information on the C-leg, you can call 801-328-9728.
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