Given Limb Works with the Center for the Intrepid

On the plaque in front of the Intrepid mosaic there is a quote:

“To be resolutely fearless, bold, unafraid.”

This six-word sentence is emblematic of the courageous military personnel at the Center for the Intrepid at the Brooke Army Medical Center, a state of the art rehab facility in San Antonio.



Center for the Intrepid Gait Assessment Lab:

20% of injured military return to their units. To be eligible, they must prove they can handle uneven surfaces (gravel, sand) and steep slopes.




Intrepid Driving Lab:

In the Intrepid Driving Lab, patients are given the chance to to try different vehicle adaptations and are exposed to various driving scenarios on the screen. Many of the injured are not amputees, but have brain injuries and/or PTSD. This lab is a safe setting for driving assessment before road training.



Center for the Intrepid Pool:

The Given Limb helped USA Paratriathlon run their first training program here.





Center for the Intrepid Pool:

Paratriathlon training, started here by the Given Limb, is not just about competition, but about developing lifelong healthy exercise habits, which are proven to help with depression, PTSD, and other post-war issues.



Center for the Intrepid Occupational Therapy:

The OT lab area (left) is much the same as any other facility, but there is also a mockup of an apartment (right) where patients can practice cooking, cleaning, reaching items on shelves, etc.


Given Limb Fundraiser a Smashing Success

On November 8, 2017, the Given Limb Foundation held a fundraiser in New York City in honor of Veterans Day. The event gave an overview of the Given Limb Foundation to the hundred people in attendance.The night was filled with good food and great company but, by far the highlight of the evening was an inspirational speech given by Paralympian and veteran Melissa Stockwell. Ms. Stockwell gave an incredibly moving speech on her own story- from losing her leg in Iraq, to becoming a 3x world champion and Paralympic bronze medalist in paratriathlon, to co-founding Dare2Tri paratriathlon club. Every person in that room was deeply inspired.


Thank you to Melissa Stockwell and to all the veterans that have served our country!

New Prosthetic Changes Swimming

SWIMBased on the reporting of Catherine Saint Louis of the New York Times:

In 2004, former Marine Dan Lasko tragically lost his left leg in an explosion in Afghanistan. But that hasn’t stopped Lasko; he’s been a dedicated triathlete ever since. But he’s never had a durable leg that could match the strength of his right leg until now. The new leg Lasko would be testing, “had a jet-black foot with a nonslip tread on its sole, which he described as “awesome” even before entering the water.”  His excitement was, “palpable from the first whiff of chlorine.”.

Waterproof prosthetics have existed for decades but none have been as functional or effective as this new prosthetic. The designer, Todd Goldstein, “was enlisted for the project in part because of his experience with 3-D printing. On a Friday night before the swim test, he programmed a 3-D printer to make a crucial part of the prosthesis: a downward-pointing triangle of nylon and plastic located at calf height that provides some propulsion but, with cone-shaped holes that lets some water through, is not overly forceful.”

The cost of the prosthetic will eventually range from 2,000 to 5,000 dollars. However, amputees will most likely have to pay out of pocket, “Most insurance companies don’t provide coverage for recreational prostheses, Dr. Crandell (the medical director of the amputee program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston) said, ‘even though ultimately getting back to sports is best physically and for psychological recovery.’ ”


This new breakthrough in the field of recreational prosthetics could be revolutionary for thousands of amputees for years to come.

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World’s First Thought Controlled Prosthetic

mind controlled prosthetic

Bionic arms controlled by a patient’s thoughts are a radical improvement on existing artificial arms, according to researchers. Existing prosthetic arms rely on a patient twitching the muscles in the stump of their damaged arms. But because the muscle is damaged, an amputee may only be able to carry out limited movements, such as one or two grasping actions.The limited range of movements is a reason why up to 50 per cent of amputees abandon their electronic arms at present.

But by linking the nerves from the spine into an intact piece of muscle, either in the patient’s chest or biceps, patients were able to carry out a much wider repertoire of movements.These included opening and closing the hand, rotating the wrist and moving the arms up and down. To control the new prosthetic, the patient simply has to think like they are controlling a phantom arm. By imagining the desired action, such as pinching two fingers together, the signal is carried by the nerves to the muscle. Electronic sensors on the skin surface pick up the signals, which then control the robotic arm. Ultimately it is hoped that more commands could be programmed into the robotic prosthetic, allowing more actions.

Dr Dario Farina, now based at Imperial College London, and colleagues in Europe, Canada and US led the research. He said yesterday: ‘When an arm is amputated the nerve fibres and muscles are also severed, which means that it is very difficult to get meaningful signals from them to operate a prosthetic. ‘We’ve tried a new approach, moving the focus from muscles to the nervous system. ‘This means that our technology can detect and decode signals more clearly, opening up the possibility of robotic prosthetics that could be far more intuitive and useful for patients. It is a very exciting time to be in this field of research.’

The researchers carried out lab-based experiments with six volunteers at the University of Vienna, who were either amputees from the shoulder down or just above the elbow. After physiotherapy training, the amputees were able to make a more extensive range of movements than would be possible using a classic muscle-controlled robotic prosthetic. They came to this conclusion by comparing their research to previous studies on muscle-controlled robotic prosthetics.

While improvements are expected, the authors hope to have the prosthesis on the market in the next three years. A variety of ‘bionic arms’ are being tested by researchers. While an alternative approach is using brain implants, the advantage of using a nerve from the spine is that the approach is compatible with existing prosthetic arms – and no wires need to be inserted into the brain to control the device.

Read more here

New Option for Female Amputees

Nearly 2 million Americans have had an arm or leg amputated, and those numbers continue to grow as wounded servicemen and women return home. It takes time to adjust to a prosthetic limb. But a team of engineers and medical experts is widening the options for women.Twenty-one-year-old Alexandra Capellini is an active college senior. She’s in flats on the sloping campus walkways, but loves the look of high heels. As she sees it, “most of what women like to wear when you’re going out or even adjusting to seasons.” Alexandra lost her leg above the right knee to bone cancer at age seven. Adjusting her prosthetic limb is second nature.
Now mechanical engineers and medical experts are designing a new foot for female amputees. “The highest prosthetics go is zero to two inches. We wanted to make one that goes zero to four. One of the biggest challenges we faced was having to mimic the ball of the foot. Whenever you stand in a high heel condition it’s different than standing in a flat foot condition, so a lot of weight is shifted. The big toe is what keeps you from falling forward,” explained Joey Tilson a mechanical engineering student at John Hopkins University
The foot holds position with an ankle lever. The goal: a quick adjustment, so a woman could wear heels to a party and kick them off to dance. “You don’t get out a screwdriver to adjust your feet usually when you adjust your shoes,” said  Nathan Scott, Ph.D.,  also a mechanical engineering student at Johns Hopkins University. Alexandra loves the concept, but also the attention it brings to those living without limbs. “I think the bigger picture is emphasizing options for female amputees,” she said.
The prosthetic foot is made from a carbon fiber, and weighs about a pound and a half. The mechanical engineering students designed it as part of their final senior project. It’s in the early stages, but it may be able to adapt up to four inches in height.
Read more here

High School Team Supports Given Limb

ryehighschoolvolleyballIn 2016, the Rye High School Volleyball Team raised money for the Given Limb by setting up a donations table at their home games.  Team member Kaitlyn Rentala was instrumental in organizing the donations table and has gone on to help the foundation in other ways, such as helping to keep this website up to date!

Second Paratriathlon Training Program a Success

For the second year, Given Limb funded a paratriathlon training camp program for veterans at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC). The 12 camp participants were supported by a number of individuals, including those from USATri and a local group, Britton’s TriForce. The Given Limb also supported a number of participants to travel from BAMC to Chicago for an additional program focused on race training.


Desmond Jackson Makes US Team for Parapan Am Games

Desmond Jackson, a young para-athlete whose training has been supported by a grant from GLF, has been selected to represent the US at the Parapan American Games, which will be held in Toronto in August.  The US team was announced on July 6 by US Paralympics, a division of the US Olympic Committee.  Congratulations Desmond!  For more on Desmond, see the article in Our Initiatives.

Desmond competing in the long jump at the Paralympic Nationals.
Desmond competing in the long jump at the Paralympic Nationals.

Improved Casting Method for Leg Prosthetics

A team led by Dr Arjan Buis, from the Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, has developed the innovative system, known as Majicast, to manufacture lower limb prosthetic sockets that fit prostheses securely to patients’ residual limbs.

To cast for a new prosthesis, the residual limbs of the amputee are immersed in a tank of water one at a time, with a membrane material wrapped around them. The person’s body weight is then used to load this – similar to loading a prosthesis during gait. This pressure casting deforms the soft tissue, under a uniform load. When a limb is subject to uniform external pressure, there will be an internal equilibrium pressure at which the soft tissue has maximum load-bearing function, and where internal shear stresses are minimized.

Using this casting method, the soft tissue is ideally positioned in its stiffest form for load transfer. This means vertical movement of the limb in the socket – or pistoning – is limited, reducing deep shear stresses and so shear and friction related problems that can cause soft tissue damage and discomfort.

“The method gives uniform loading to the soft tissue,” said Dr Buis. “Normally, taking moulds is done by hand and its success depends on the skill of the person making them. There are also no current socket fit criteria other than that the resulting socket must be comfortable and functional. For an engineer that isn’t very specific, and as a result, we developed a method of both surface and volume matching.”

“The Majicast is a straightforward, fully automated, easy-to-use device that will produce high quality prosthetic sockets,” he added. “The device has been scientifically tested and clinically validated; this method has also been shown to be more repeatable and consistent than traditional methods.”

As the technique does not require a great deal of skill from technicians, it will be easy to train local people to fit prosthetics  – something that is important in low income countries where demand is high and money for this is scarce.

The academics are now working with members of Dutch-based social enterprise organization ProPortion to help people in Colombia, offering high-quality artificial legs to people who have lost limbs, often through injuries from landmines.

Read more:

Google providing funding for prosthetic innovation

Google has promised to pour $20 million in funding in its non-profit to support nonprofits and charities using innovative technology to improve the lives of those with disabilities.

In a blog post written by Jacquelline Fuller, the Director of on Tuesday, the tech giant announced the launch of the Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities project. Google says the scheme is designed to support those living with disabilities, and in order to propel the development of technology which assists the disabled in their daily lives — such as high-tech prosthetics — the company plans to pour $20 million in funding research.

The Google Impact Challenge will seek out nonprofits and help them find new solutions to some serious “what ifs” for the disabled community, according to the blog post. The best of submitted ideas will be supported by the tech giant and given the chance to develop and scale up using the firm’s resources.

To kick off the open call for ideas, Google has awarded funding to two companies which focus on reducing the cost of prosthetic limbs and auditory therapy, which could eventually improve access to these technologies worldwide.

One of those, the Enable community, has been awarded $600,000 to further the cause of open-source, 3D printed limbs. While traditional prosthetics can cost thousands of dollars to fit, assemble and purchase, R&D in 3D printing has the potential to revolutionize the industry. As an example, last year 3D printed limbs were used to replace limbs lost by children caught in the Sudanese war for as little as $100. Google’s funding will be used by the community — which uses 3D printers to design, assemble and fit 3D prosthetics for free — to advance the development of open-source 3D-printed upper-limb prosthetics.

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