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April 17, 2009

Where No Man Has Gone Before

Lt. Colonel Greg Gadson, testing the power knee:

He's Walter Reed's bionic man, a wounded warrior who walks on a pair of new battery-powered prosthetic legs outfitted with some of the most high-tech gizmos around.

No, Army Lt. Col. Greg Gadson can't move like he did when he was a linebacker on West Point's football team or a battalion commander in Iraq. But even after just a few days on his new legs, which have embedded sensors that gauge his weight and speed and can help correct missteps, he's been able to walk a mile under his own power.

He is quicker with his new legs, more nimble. When he stumbles, the legs have helped right him. And at a demonstration yesterday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he proclaimed that they are the closest yet to "the feeling of a normal leg" since he lost both of his in Iraq almost two years ago.

"It was like you were driving a school bus and someone put you in a sports car," he said. "I can definitely see myself doing things I wouldn't do -- like shopping."

It's radically different from any prosthetic available today," said Mike Corcoran, a certified prosthetist who has worked with Gadson through his rehabilitation.

Corcoran can wirelessly "log in" to Gadson's knees and tell, in real time, whether his gait is symmetrical, how long his strides are and whether he's walking up or down hill. With that information, Corcoran can adjust settings, giving Gadson a better fit and smoother ride. The legs even have an odometer in them, "so I know what he's done over the weekend. If I tell him to walk four miles and then see that he hasn't, he's busted," Corcoran said.

Somehow, I doubt that's going to be an issue with Colonel Gadson. Just a feeling.

Posted by Cassandra at April 17, 2009 01:35 PM

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Comments

How far we have come from wooden legs and padding!

Posted by: Cricket at April 17, 2009 03:38 PM

It's amazing, isn't it?

Posted by: Cassandra at April 19, 2009 02:32 AM

I was totally amazed and blown away by that video.
We have come light-years from where we were, even ten years ago.

Robotics and prosthetics and ergonomics, with microchip technology have enhanced our quality of life, even when it seems dark, there are lights like this.

What that video says about us as a people, a society and a nation!

WOW.

Posted by: Cricket at April 19, 2009 01:00 PM

The "state of the art" is pretty flippin' good nowadays...

Posted by: camojack at April 21, 2009 03:55 AM

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