First computer-controlled artifical leg tested

February 15, 2008 8:09:47 PM PST
Many people who rely on a prosthetic limb have to really concentrate when they walk to prevent stumbling or falling. However, now there's a new computer-controlled artificial limb on the market, and it's one some South Bay amputees tried out Tuesday.

Dell Lee of San Jose was three years old when his leg was amputated in a car accident. In nearly five decades of wearing a prosthetic, Lee has seen it all.

"It's gone from just simple pin type devices that were very hard to walk on, to something that almost approximates a real leg now. It's been truly amazing to walk on this leg today," says Lee.

For the first time, Lee is walking using a high-tech C-Leg. It's a completely computer-controlled artificial leg.

The microprocessor in the C-Leg allows for real-time assessment and adjustment for each step.

The C-Leg is programmed for each individual using a remote sensor. There's 250 data points the software follows to help control everything from knee resistance to speed. This is the technology that is automatically given to amputees returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"All of the war vets that are coming back are being fitted with C-Legs if they are above-knee amputee. It's fantastic that they are doing this for them," says

Otto Bock is now taking its high-tech prosthetic around the country, showing it to amputees and selling its benefits to insurance companies. The cost is around $44,000, but it lasts several years longer than a mechanical prosthetic.

Rob Van Horn of Boulder Creek is amazed with the technology.

"Going up and down stairs, one foot after the other, is not something I've done in 25 years. I haven't done that in 25 years," says Van Horn.

"This glides... that's really the feeling I'm getting," says Lee.

Lee says for him the timing is perfect. He was scheduled to see his doctor tomorrow and hopes to be approved for a C-Leg in the next couple of months.

LINK: C-Leg Web site