WORLD’S FIRST NEURAL-CONTROLLED BIONIC LEG
In a historic climb, Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) research subject, Zac Vawter, will climb 103 floors of the Willis Tower using the first “Bionic Leg”, a neural-controlled prosthetic leg driven by his own thoughts, in the world’s tallest indoor stair climb event, SkyRise Chicago, held at Willis Tower on November 4, 2012. Read this Associated Press article on Yahoo.com to learn more and see images on this unique trial
RIC’s Center for Bionic Medicine pioneered the Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) technique which allows amputees to have more natural control of prosthetic devices. Vawter, 31, from outside Seattle, lost his leg in a motorcycle accident three years ago. He received the TMR procedure when his leg was amputated and became part of RIC’s unique research trial about a year ago. He travels to Chicago to work every few months to test this one-of-a-kind prosthetic leg that has a powered knee and ankle. What makes it “bionic” is that it interacts with him. When Vawter pushes on the device to stand-up, the device reads his intent and pushes back on him propelling him up.
“One of the biggest difference for me is being able to take stairs step-over-step like everyone else,” said Vawter. “With my standard prosthesis, I have to take every step with my good foot first and sort of lift or drag the prosthetic leg up. With the bionic leg, it’s simple, I take stairs like I used to, and can even take two at a time.”
SkyRise Chicago is a climb and fundraising event that raises funds for RIC’s world-class clinical care and innovative research. Nearly 3,000 participants will climb 103 flights of stairs of Willis Tower, or hand cycle the equivalent with specially calibrated hand-cycles, or “virtually” participate through fundraising alone to raise funds for RIC.
“There are approximately 600,000 individuals with lower limb amputation in the United States, and we are hopeful that this neural-controlled technology will allow for more ability and more long-term independence,“ said Levi Hargrove, PhD, Director of the Neural Engineering for Prosthetics & Orthotics Lab within RIC’s Center for Bionic Medicine. “Our integrated team of clinicians, prosthetists and engineers are very excited to climb with Zac on Sunday.”
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