New Bionic Technology Improves Life for Double Amputee
NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A man who became a double amputee after being crushed by 20,000 pounds of steel said he feels like he’s getting his life back thanks to new, bionic technology in his prosthetic legs.
Think about how many steps you take in a day. That simple motion of curving your foot from heel to toe doesn’t exist for most prosthetic patients. That makes certain things like ramps or hills nearly impossible to navigate. But now that’s changing.
As Ed Spangler walked up and down a hill on Wednesday near the Hanger Clinic, he couldn’t believe how easy it was. It was something he couldn’t dream of doing just a few months ago.
“For seven years I couldn’t do that, now I can,” he said. “If I want to go for a walk in the park, I can.”
He’s one of the first double amputee patients in the metro to get fitted with the new micro-processor-controlled bionic feet.
“It’s smart, it says, ‘Hey this guy is walking up hill,’ it holds that position and essentially makes the change in incline feel more like level ground to him,” said John Comey with the Hanger Clinic.
Spangler couldn’t be more happy.
“Closest thing to having a foot without having a foot,” he said.
Spangler lost both his legs seven years ago while working at a steel supply company. A crane above him was moving 20,000 pounds of steel when it fell and pinned him between two stacks of metal.
“I was pinned for 35 minutes until the fire department could get me out,” he said.
He lost both legs below the knee and had a heart attack during his recovery, requiring a quadruple by-pass.
“All you can do is be glad you’re alive and try to make the most of it,” he said. “I wanted to live, I wanted to spend more time with my wife.”
Now with his new feet, Spangler said life won’t be such an up-hill battle.
“It’s motivating for me to be able to do this, to enjoy life again,” he said.
Élan bionic feet have only been on the market since the beginning of the year. Comey said since the materials and the technology are becoming more affordable, more and more patients will have access to these better prosthetics.