(WASHINGTON) -- A revolutionary new prosthetic leg system developed to help troops wounded in battle walk with ease again was showcased Thursday at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
The medical advancement, called the PowerFoot BiOM, is the first bionic lower-leg system to restore the lost function of the foot and ankle. Dr. Paul Pasquins, the chief of orthopedics and rehabilitation at Walter Reed, says unlike previous systems, the new prosthesis doesn't rely on muscles above the knee to help a person walk.
"The difference is all of those devices are passive devices, meaning the individual has to propel themselves, use more proximal muscles -- muscles above the knee, for example, to make that prothesis work," Pasquins explains. "What this prothesis does is substitute for the muscles that are lost for an amutation below the knee in terms of ankle and foot function."
"The actuators within the prosthesis actually help to propel the individual," he adds. "So the motors can carry a human body up to 260 pounds."
Army First Sgt. Mike Leonard, who was injured in Afghanistan, says the PowerFoot BiOM makes walking easier.
"It gives your body a forward momentum, so you can walk a little bit easier, with less muscle energy," Leonard says.
So far, only five PowerFoot BiOMs exist.
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