On December 10, reporters flocked to the Military Advanced Training Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC), Washington DC, to watch a demonstration of a new microprocessor-controlled prosthetic knee.
Currently being fitted on 30 wounded warriors at WRAMC and Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the X2 knee by Otto Bock Healthcare, Duderstadt, Germany, is the result of a project funded in 2005 to support the Military Amputee Research Program (MARP).
Administered by the Advanced Technology Research Center (TATRC), the project had the goal of developing “an electronically controlled prosthetic knee joint that meets the specific demands of military staff in real-world activity,” said Troy Turner, Advanced Technology Research program manager at TATRC.
“Otto Bock had the C-Leg-it was the best that was available, but not the best needed,” Turner said.
The X2, which Otto Bock plans to release to the general market in 2011, has a variety of new features, including more durability and functionality, extended battery life, and wireless field diagnostics and serviceability. It can also handle higher weight limits. According to Turner, the leg allows users to traverse stairs foot over foot and to walk and run backward and forward. Adele Levine, PT, a physical therapist at the training center, said that some patients who had been experiencing joint pain while using the C-Leg saw relief almost immediately when they began using the X2.
Marine Gunnery Sgt. Marcus Wilson, one of patients at WRAMC testing out the microprocessor knee, said, “Once I got the confidence to trust the leg, that it would do what it was supposed to do, I almost got immediate relief. No knee pain, hip pain, everything evened out.” Wilson shared that the leg has given him the ability to stand in any position and rest on the amputated side, relieving pressure on his intact leg. He also confirmed that he can run on the X2 without having to switch to another leg.
Staff Sgt. Alfredo De Los Santos has been using the new X2 microprocessor for a little more than two weeks.
“Ever since I got this leg, it’s been heaven. I went to Busch gardens. I walked all day long. I only take it off when I go to sleep at night,” he said. De Los Santos, who works out two or three times a day and recently participated in the Army Ten-Miler and the Marine Corps Marathon using a handcycle, said that before using the X2, he would occasionally use canes to alleviate some of the back pain he was having because he enjoys being so active.
“Now I can jump and mostly do everything,” he said.
Levine said that with the X2, De Los Santos has alleviated a lot of his previous concerns about the pressure he was putting on his intact side and his concerns with quality of living.
“He is so much happier-he tells us this at least 20 times a day,” she said. “He’s always concerned about the future and his condition in 20 years; this gives him a lot of hope.”
When Fox news asked Wilson if he believes he can return to combat, he answered, “Yes, absolutely.”