Walking tall with advanced prosthetics

RALEIGH, N.C. – Robert Wright has kept his sense of humor despite losing his left leg to melanoma in 2018, but it wasn't always this way.

"Lying in the hospital bed, getting ready for amputation, I was like, 'This is going to be my life,'" Wright said.

The former police officer wasn't sure how to move forward until he walked into the Hanger Clinic in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he was introduced to the latest technology in prosthetic legs: the microprocessor-controlled knee.

"They have multiple sensors and it monitors the position of the knee in space. As the knee begins to bend, it's reading those sensors very rapidly," said Steven Few, a certified prosthetist and orthotist at Hanger Clinic.

Hydraulic pressure inside the knee allows more movement than previous prosthetics.

Adjustments can be made by computer or through an app, improving mobility and reducing the risk of falls.

Qinghua Li lost her leg in China at the age of two. She said her new knee allows her to keep up with her 3-year-old son.

"I notice that this is more stable than the old leg, and I can also go uphill and downhill," Li said.

Jeremy Sanders, a certified prosthetic assistant at Hanger Clinic, knows firsthand what patients face since losing his leg in a factory accident at age 19.

"I didn't know how life would progress at that point," Sanders said.

Sanders has dedicated his life to working with other amputees and even made Wright a special patriotic cover for his prosthetic.

"The microprocessor knee far exceeds my expectation of what I was going to be able to do in life," Wright said.

Wright dedicates his patriotic prosthetic to his son, who is in the Navy, and all of the U.S. servicemen and women who risk their lives every day.

Few said not every amputee is a candidate for a microprocessor knee and should be evaluated first.

The new technology along with the fittings can cost up to $50,000 but most insurance companies cover the cost.

Hanger Clinic has more than 750 locations across the country.

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