The New York City marathon might have been cancelled last weekend, but a more vertical endurance race went on inside Chicago’s Sears Tower (we’ll call it Willis Tower when the Big Ben is renamed after its next owner). The world’s highest indoor stair climbing event normally draws people with healthy knees and powerful legs, but this time one climber was missing a lower appendage entirely.
Instead he was using a newly unveiled power prosthetic developed at Vanderbilt University and that’s being tested at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) that activates its motors in response to forces applied to it by the wearer. The new leg allows for a more natural gait thanks to both the ankle and the knee being powered.
Vawter, 31, from outside Seattle, lost his leg in a motorcycle accident three years ago. He received the TMR procedure when his leg was amputated and became part of RIC’s unique research trial about a year ago. He travels to Chicago to work every few months to test this one-of-a-kind prosthetic leg that has a powered knee and ankle. When Vawter pushes on the device to stand-up, the device reads his intent and pushes back on him propelling him up.
More with additional pics from Associated Press…