Hit and run victim one of the first in Briton fitted with bionic foot

Bionic foot for leg amputee

21.11.2006

After having part of his left leg amputated, Scott Wall is one of the first people in Britain to be fitted with a new bionic foot.

Surgeons had to amputate part of the leg and put metal plates and rods into his right leg after Scott, 18, was hit by a speeding car which pinned him against a wall.

Scott had a prosthetic leg fitted, but found it impossible to walk properly without help and has now been fitted with a £12,500 hi-tech foot which uses artificial intelligence to mimic a human one.

The foot learns and imitates the way Scott walks by using a mini computer and sensors. It also learns how a particular movement may signal he is going to change pace, climb or run.

The foot will also compensate for the injuries in his right leg by helping him balance, it was fitted by experts at the Pace rehabilitation centre, in Cheadle, after a few days' trial, it has already affected his life and he has the confidence to walk to the shops alone.

Scott believes that with more physiotherapy, the Proprio Foot will give him the independence to go to university - and he even hopes to play basketball again.

Scott said: "The normal prosthetics are fixed in one position, which make them really hard to use outside.

"I was driven everywhere because I couldn't walk any distance without my mates or family, in case I needed help. Everyone has been great, but I don't want to rely on other people.

"The Proprio makes it a lot easier to walk and it evens out the complications caused by problems with the toes on my right foot, giving me better balance and making walking smoother.

"I'm working with physios at the Pace clinic to build up my muscles to control it better, as it's heavier than the prosthetic I'm used to, but with practice my movement should really improve.

"I've lost a year of my life through the accident and now I've a real chance to get back to where I was before.
"That's all I want to do - start university and maybe even take up basketball again."

Designed by Icelandic company Ossur, The Proprio Foot, is the first to use sensors to detect surfaces and slopes. Its software recognises such things as hills and stairs and then adjusts the angle of the "ankle", and replaces some muscle power lost during amputation.

The clinic's Dr Toby Carlsson said: "The foot thinks for itself, it responds to changing terrain, identifying slopes and stairs after the first step.

"Unlike other devices, it moves automatically, helping users to sit and stand up easily and walk more naturally.
"It is a very exciting development, a new generation prosthetic which gives users a more symmetric and confident gait with reduced wear and tear on the back, hips and knees."

Jonathan Betts, from Irwin Mitchell, acting for Scott in his personal injury case, said: "I am delighted that Scott has had the opportunity to benefit from this new technology, I hope his new foot will greatly help to increase the quality of his life and mobility.

"I hope that by working with the Pace rehabilitation centre, Scott's mobility will continue to improve and he will continue to become more independent."

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