As a veteran of the Marine Corps, Kenneth Cook is not a quitter. But several years of relying on a wheelchair, and medication that sapped his energy made the Chicago man feel like giving up on having a happy, active life.
In 2008, he got a walker, then knee braces and crutches. “I was still stuck with the wheelchair, because the crutches were good for just getting around in the house and walking up to the corner and right back,” he said.
But one day Kenneth met Alonzo Hogan, an orthotist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital in suburban Chicago. The chance encounter changed the course of Kenneth’s life. With Alonzo’s recommendation, Kenneth was fitted with the Sensor Walk stance control orthoses from Ottobock in 2009, enabling him to walk more independently.
In 2012, Kenneth became one of the first veterans in the country to receive the high-tech C-Brace orthotronic mobility system from Ottobock. Rather than simply locking and unlocking the knee in response to signals like the Sensor Walk does, the C-Brace controls each phase of the user’s gait and automatically adjusts to prepare for the next movement.
“With the C-Brace, I can do pretty much what I want to do. I can go places, I can stay longer, I can hang out, I can walk with the crowd…and I’m not making a whole lot of noise walking with them.” Kenneth says his mobility is 100 percent better. “And as far as my attitude—I’d say that’s at least 126 percent better. I like having my personality back and not being mean and snapping at people,” he said.