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New device helps wounded warriors deal with pain

Intrepid Dynamic Exos­keletal Orthosis supports legs, ankles

SAN ANTONIO - When the wounded return from the battlefield, they are faced with another battle: recovering from their injuries.  Now, there is a new device that is helping them achieve that goal.

The Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO, is a brace designed to help support injured ankles and legs.

The purpose is to lessen pain and give back some normalcy and help avoid amputation.

"We take simply that pain we are dealing with and pull it out of the equation," said Ryan Blanck, who started developing the brace back in 2009.

Army First Lt. Kyle Stoy spent Tuesday morning trying on his new IDEO. After strapping it on, he stood up and ran in place for the first time nine months.

“I have to kind of contain myself in terms of the emotional response," he said.

Stoy was hit by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, suffering a severely damaged ankle and detached heel. 

At first, he said he thought there was only one way to get back to something that resembled a normal life.

“'Just cut it off cut off and give me one of those prosthetics so I can have the quality of life that guy his having,'" Stoy told his doctors.

But then he heard about the brace.

“This is actually the best of both worlds. Not only do I get to keep my foot, I can also return to the active life I was used too,” said Stoy.

He said is really looking forward to a time when he will, “not feel pain and just (walk) around the mall with my family.”

Specialist Hank Loutzenhiser said he was told he would never walk again on his injured ankle.

"You put the brace on and start running, cutting, moving. It's like a breath of fresh air," said Loutzenhiser.

Fresh air is what Army Captain Victor Munoz was experiencing in early July. Wearing two IDEOs, he climbed to the summit of Mt. Rainier.

"Without the braces, it really wouldn't have been close to being possible," said Munoz.

With his recent medical clearance, Munoz will be climbing back into the cockpit of a Chinook helicopter.

The device is being used by nearly 300 patients. Some 200 have avoided amputation. 

“The IDEO (is a) miracle brace ," Loutzenhiser said.


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