New Tech for Wounded Warriors


I have a buddy who lost an arm to a mine in Vietnam and now heads the VA’s prosthetics programs. While hunting deer a couple of years ago in West Virginia he explained to me that although the new body armor has saved many lives in Iraq and Afghanistan it has also caused a greater percentage of amputations across the population of wounded than previous conflicts because of the way the shock of an explosion is transferred to the extremities.

Resultantly there is a great demand for prostheses, and from demand comes innovation. Modern technology has afforded wounded warriors devices that are increasingly capable of replicating the performance of human limbs – a huge quality of life issue for these heroes.

Otto Bock HealthCare, a company that started out providing devices for German World War I veterans in 1919, has developed a prosthetic knee system that is an upgrade to its already popular C-Leg. According to an Armed Forces Press Service release “the prosthesis is for above-the-knee amputees and uses a microprocessor to control the knee’s hydraulic functions and anticipate the wearer’s actions and make changes in real time.”

The new system has more sensors, a faster hard drive, and more memory. Engineers are also looking to improve battery life to 50 hours per charge. The release states the leg will “improve transitions between movements like level-ground walking, climbing stairs, and running.”

Barring any technical problems, the new prosthesis should be available to servicemembers in 2009.


  • leftyf

    Now if the VA will just teach me how to use the leg that I already have, I’d be grateful. I lost my leg over a year ago and still can’t use it. So much for the C-Leg

  • Adrian

    Touch Bionics just came out with a pretty cool new prosthetic hand. Individual motors for each digit, controlled by arm/wrist muscles.
    Next step – direct neural interface with the prosthetic limb. It’s not too far off, some guys at Brown University had success in getting direct neural interface working with a cursor on a computer – quadriplegics were able to move the cursor, click on things, etc.