Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates of Central Florida’s own Stan Patterson, CP speaks with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Tammy Duckworth, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot who lost both of her legs and her arm. Here’s an excerpt:
STAN PATTERSON, TAMMY’S PROSTHETIST: She’s a unique individual, being a helicopter pilot, being a female, in that role, you knew that she had the charisma and enough umph in her to, you know, do whatever obstacles that she’s faced.
GUPTA: How’s that feel, Tammy?
DUCKWORTH: It feels, you know, it just feels different. It feels – there’s a lot sort of strapped on here compared to my c-leg, which is very streamlined, but it’s doing more of the work. And I’m just mentally telling myself with each step how to walk, and hopefully that becomes second nature the more I walk on it.
GUPTA: So you’re getting used to it actually means doing less.
DUCKWORTH: Right, getting used to it. The first few times I was walking, I was doing way too much.
PATTERSON: Most amputees at that level, they don’t walk. It’s — they just basically succumb to being in a wheelchair. She knew that she wanted to push that envelope.
GUPTA: Now let me show you something here. This is one of the first real-life applications of this bionic leg. It costs about $100,000. The two legs are actually communicating with each other there, sending all the information to this computer screen as well. You can actually measure the gate, check all that, and make alterations so that her walking can be more normal.
PATTERSON: With this, it reads off a sensor on the left side. And so the Bluetooth sensor senses where the foot is on the opposite limb. And so therefore, it propels the leg forward as the amputee walks. So the engines in the knee actually do the workload.
GUPTA: What is the biggest advantage you think this is going to give you, this leg?
DUCKWORTH: Well, I would love to be able to walk without a cane. I mean, I can do, it but I’m not very stable.
GUPTA: What are you going to do to ensure that other veterans are going to get the same kind of care?
DUCKWORTH: I don’t want ten years from now, when the war’s over and people have forgotten about this war, for some veteran to walk in with this $100,000 leg and not be able to get it serviced.
GUPTA: People are going to forget, aren’t they?
DUCKWORTH: It’s what happens. It’s happened after every single war, which is why right now, I’m going to fight as hard as I can to make sure that we set it up so that when we start forgetting about war, and we should, I mean, who wants a country that’s at war all the time? But let’s remember the veterans.
For the full transcript, click here.
Aired May 26, 2007 – 08:30 ET