Artificial leg developed in Austria is first of its kind to be trialled
A prosthetic leg, that allows an amputee to feel lifelike sensations from their foot, has been developed by scientists in Austria, offering a breakthrough in prosthesis development.
The recipient, Wolfang Rangger who lost his leg in 2007, described the prosthetic limb as ‘a second lease of life’.
To enable Wolfang to feel sensations, foot nerve endings in his remaining leg were rewired to place them closer to the skin surface. Sensors were then fitted to the base of the foot which relay signals to stimulators in the shaft of the leg and transmit signals to the brain.
Wolfang has been testing the prosthesis for six months and says he can now identify whether he is walking on sand, concrete, gravel or grass. He is also able to run, cycle and go climbing. The prosthesis has also reduced his phantom limb pain, which was persistent for years following the amputation.
Bionic hands, which provide lifelike sensations, have previously been developed and tested on a number of amputees, however it is the first time a leg amputee has been fitted with a sensory-enhanced prosthesis.
Imogen Wetton, a serious injury solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Manchester office, said: “This latest development in advanced prosthetics is very exciting news for amputees.
“The bionic leg could dramatically enhance the lives of amputees, allowing better movement and sense of touch while enabling them to lead an active lifestyle. Crucially, it can also help to reduce phantom limb pain, for which there is currently no cure.
“Patients often face a long and intensive rehabilitation period post injury and we will monitor the development of this particular type of prosthesis closely, as something that could potentially improve the lives and independence of our clients who have undergone an amputation.”
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