Assistive Technology Gives Wounded Warriors a Second Chance

The USA Paralympic Games hosts an annual event, The Warrior Games, for wounded, ill and injured service people. The 2011 Warrior Games will be in Colorado Springs, Colorado from May 16 – May 21. The Games serve as an introduction to Paralympic sports for injured service members. The event aims to empower people and inspire recovery.

An Ohio University student, 19-year-old Matthew Pirrello, will compete in his first Warrior Games this year with the assistance of a prosthetic leg designed specifically for him. After surviving injuries from a free fall jump, his prosthetic leg gives him the ability to overcome obstacles that many take for granted. During the 2011 Warrior Games, Pirrello will compete in swimming,  volleyball and basketball.

Before this prosthetic development, above-the-knee amputees had to take one step at a time when walking down stairs. Advanced technology including a special cylinder inside the prosthetic leg compresses to adjust for weight distribution so people can take one step right after another in one fluid motion. The prosthetic leg will bend and move with the person’s own movement.

Pirrello said, “When you’re walking and it’s bent, if you put pressure on it, it will sense you’re putting all this weight on it and will stiffen up, it’s not just going to give out on you. It’s the most secure leg; I’ve never fallen with it.”

This customized technology also has the capability to change modes. For example, if a person bounces on the toe three times it will adjust to “free swing mode” and there is no compression on the cylinder. This means a person can ride a bicycle and it won’t stiffen up, making it more comfortable for the rider. Other modes include rowing and recumbent bicycling.

The 2011 Warrior Games includes other events such as archery, shooting and track and field races. Select events for will be streamed beginning with the opening ceremony on May 16 at 5:00 p.m. MT.

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