Sven Zarling demonstrates running - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

Sven Zarling demonstrates running

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On Tuesday, the U.S. Army showed off a redesigned lower-limb prosthesis that's meant to improve mobility for its wearers. The updated C-Leg, still in prototype, aids amputees in turning around while walking and in moving backward, while also adapting automatically between walking speeds and gaits, according to staff from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where the demonstration took place. Expected to be available to military service members in 2009, the revamped C-Leg will feature more sensors, more memory and a faster hard drive.

In this photo, Sven Zarling of Germany-based C-Leg maker Otto Bock International, shows how the prosthetic limb handles a running tempo. The current version of the prosthesishas two operating modes--one for walking, and one for bicycling or other activities. Switching between modes requires the amputee to jerk the leg forward, a movement that may not be feasible for users with limited movement. Redesign requirements call for development of a small remote control that would handle as many as 10 modes.

In May, Otto Bock introduced a new version of its 10-year-old 3R80 rotary hydraulic knee joint designed to enhance the swing phase of the prosthesis. It also handles patients weighing up to 275 pounds, up from the original version's 220 pounds.

Caption text by Jonathan Skillings



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Charles Parker and Sven Zarling - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

Charles Parker and Sven Zarling

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Zarling talks up the features of the microprocessor-powered C-Leg as Army Specialist Charles Parker looks on. Otto Bock HealthCare began working on the upgrade last year when it won a three-year, $1 million contract from the Army. One of the goals of the project is to provide amputee-soldiers with technology that will let them stay on active duty if they choose.

The redesign work is also geared toward stretching the system's battery life to 50 hours on a single charge--long enough to let soldiers handle long road marches in between rechargings--and toward making the high-tech prosthesis salt-water resistant, according to the American Forces Press Service.



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Andrew Lourake with C-Leg - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

Andrew Lourake with C-Leg

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In 2004, the C-Leg allowed Lt. Col. Andrew Lourake, a U.S. Air Force pilot, to return to active flying status--in October of that year, he made his first flight in six years. In this photo from around that time, he's sitting in the cockpit of a C-20B aircraft at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Lourake, the first member of the military to be fitted with a C-Leg, was on hand for Tuesday's demonstration of the updated version.

Photo by: Bobby Jones



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Angel Barcenas demonstrating agility drill - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

Angel Barcenas demonstrating agility drill

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U.S. Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Angel Barcenas clears the hurdles in an agility drill in early June at Walter Reed during a workshop for military amputees and for medical professionals from the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Barcenas lost both legs below the knee after being wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq in July 2006, according to the Army News Service. He's using Cheetah feet, designed for track and field events, from Iceland-based manufacturer Ossur.

Photo by: Sgt. Sara Wood



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High-tech stick figure - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

High-tech stick figure

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The gait lab at Walter Reed captures movement data on amputee patients to help determine how to improve their prostheses and speed their recoveries. LED-equipped cameras flash 120 times a second to generate 3D volume reflections of the patient's joints during walking, which therapists view as stick-figure representations. Two force plates in the floor record how hard the patient's feet land and how much power is generated, while oxygen and heart rate monitors gather other data.

A new lab being built at the hospital's Amputee Care Center is expected to offer more space, which would allow for assessment of activities such as running. It will also incorporate a virtual reality system.



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Jared Scott McClure with test socket - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

Jared Scott McClure with test socket

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Walter Reed prosthetics technician Jared Scott McClure removes the test socket from the plaster cast of a patient's residual limb.



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Walter Reed Army Medical Center lab - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

Walter Reed Army Medical Center lab

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Some of the equipment used in the Walter Reed lab where test sockets are made.



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David Rozelle works with prosthesis - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

David Rozelle works with prosthesis

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Maj. David Rozelle, an amputee himself, is heading up the construction of Walter Reed's new Amputee Care Center. Next to his desk is an extra prosthesis--he swaps them according to his activity.



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Learning to shoot - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

Learning to shoot

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In a firearms training center at Walter Reed, Army Sgt. Dennis Cline learns to shoot while using a prosthesis.



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John Ferguson with digital scanner - Photos: A new C-Leg for military amputees - CNET News

John Ferguson with digital scanner

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In January, the Army opened a new rehab facility at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. Resources at the Center for the Intrepid include clinical and research offices, a virtual-reality simulator (a 21-foot dome with a 300-degree screen), a firearms training simulator and a prosthetics fabrication laboratory. In this photo, lead prostheticist John Ferguson uses a digital scanner to create a 3D image as part of the process of creating a prosthesis for Army Specialist David Lawsen.

Photo by: Elaine Wilson



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