June 04: Motion tracking sensors have made video game systems like the Wii incredibly interactive. Now, similar technology is allowing amputees to be fitted with more responsive prosthetic legs.
Thomas Bourgeois of San Antonio sports the latest in prosthetic legs, an amazing replacement limb called the V-Hold. “V” stands for vacuum. It’s a smart socket or sorts. The prosthetist uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with an imbedded microprocessor. He customizes how much pressure is keeping the limb in place with every move.
“The microprocessor will monitor where the level is. If it dips below or goes above, it automatically shuts on or it will bleed off the vacuum to the patient’s comfort level,” explained certified prosthetist Phillip Harrison of Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics.
In other words, the V-Hold identified what the wearer is doing jogging, walking, standing, sitting or jumping ? and then adjusts accordingly.
With improve fit and comfort, the makers say those who wear this new device will have superior stability and a consistent fit.
Bourgeois is the first person in San Antonio to try the new V-Hold. He said it’s more like a functioning tool than a false limb. “It’s not just a crutch,” he said. “I can actually pull the ground with my hamstring with my prosthetic side for the first time.”
“Almost every patient who’s a below knee patient is possibly a candidate for this system,” Harrison stated.
In his 42 years with a prosthesis, Bourgeois has seen a lot of changes. Technology has come a long way. “In today’s society, it’s okay to be an amputee,” he commented. “And so technology’s out there now and there’s really never been a better time to be an amputee.”
About 70% of people who have lost limbs are below the knee amputees. This new technology could help thousands of people function better and more comfortably.