Click here to close now.


News Feed Item

First Neurally Controlled, Powered Prosthetic Limb Is 2,109 Steps Closer To Realization

IRVINE, Calif., Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Freedom Innovations, LLC, a leading developer of high technology prosthetic medical devices, announced today that research participant Zac Vawter utilized the world's first neurally controlled, powered prosthetic limb to climb 103 floors (2,109 steps) of Chicago's Willis Tower at the SkyRise Chicago fundraiser. In this most grueling test of the technology to date, Vawter demonstrated that this advanced research is quickly on its way to becoming available to lower-limb amputees worldwide.

(Photo: )

Originally developed at Vanderbilt University, the Powered Knee & Ankle System's neural controls are the result of research from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). Prosthetic developer Freedom Innovations is on track to commercialize the first phase of the technology, the Powered Knee & Ankle System in early 2015. Further development of the neural-controlled system is underway, as it represents the next step required to fully restore lower-limb amputees' complete biological function.

The computerized prosthetic limb Vawter used in the climb incorporates two significant advancements in prosthetic technology. First, as the only system to feature fully-powered knee and ankle prosthetic joints, the prosthetic limb is no longer passive. Motors in the system replace muscle function lost from an amputation. This facilitates power-driven ambulation that also allows an amputee to actively climb stairs and slopes. Second, Vawter benefited from neural control of this powered system where his thoughts helped to direct the software and action of the prosthetic limb via targeted muscle reinnervation (TMR).  

TMR is a surgical procedure pioneered at RIC. Brain signals from nerves severed during amputation are rerouted to intact muscles, allowing patients to control their robotic prosthetic devices by merely thinking about the action that they want to perform.

Vawter, 31, who lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident three years ago, put the technology on public display for the first time during the annual stair-climbing charity event hosted by RIC. He completed the 103-story climb in just over 52 minutes.

"One of the biggest differences for me is being able to take stairs step-over-step like everyone else," said Vawter. "With my standard prosthesis, I have to take every step with my good foot first and sort of lift or drag the prosthetic leg up. With the bionic leg, it's simple, I take stairs like I used to, and can even take two at a time." 

As has been illustrated by this historical climb, it is a convergence of technologies and research collaboration between multiple organizations that is driving this groundbreaking technology forward. Freedom Innovations is working aggressively towards commercialization, so amputees worldwide can benefit from increased prosthetic functionality including improved agility, balance, and fall prevention. This improved level of safety will not only reduce the potential for injury and costly hospital admissions, it is expected to greatly improve the quality of life for those living with limb loss.

About Freedom Innovations
Freedom Innovations, LLC designs, manufactures, and markets advanced technology lower extremity prosthetic devices that provide people with physical challenges the ability to reach their full potential. Based in Irvine, CA, Freedom's lower extremity prosthetics are distributed around the world. For more information, visit

About The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
Founded in 1954, RIC has been designated the "#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America" by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. RIC sets the standard of care in the post-acute market through its innovative applied research and discovery programs, particularly in the areas of neuroscience, bionic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine and technology transfer. For more information, go to

About the Center for Intelligent Mechatronics, Vanderbilt University
The Center focuses on the design and control of electromechanical devices, with particular emphasis on the intersection of design and control. Much of its work is human-centered, including current research in anthropomorphic robotic upper and lower extremity prostheses; dynamic approaches to the control of robot biped locomotion; and the use of biologically derived coordination for the control of legged locomotion in multi-legged robots. Founded in 1873, Vanderbilt University comprises 10 schools, a distinguished medical center and The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center. Ranked as one of the nation's top universities, Vanderbilt offers undergraduate programs in the liberal arts and sciences, engineering, music, education and human development, and a full range of graduate and professional degrees.

SOURCE Freedom Innovations

More Stories By PR Newswire

Copyright © 2007 PR Newswire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PRNewswire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of PRNewswire. PRNewswire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, will discuss the impact of technology on identity....
The APN DevOps Competency highlights APN Partners who demonstrate deep capabilities delivering continuous integration, continuous delivery, and configuration management. They help customers transform their business to be more efficient and agile by leveraging the AWS platform and DevOps principles.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/...
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting will feature upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special IoT documentary which will be filmed on the expo floor November 3 to 5, 2015 in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to BBC in UK and the largest in Asia with many award winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley. The program will be aired during the highest viewership season of ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Key Information Systems, Inc. (KeyInfo), a leading cloud and infrastructure provider offering integrated solutions to enterprises, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Key Information Systems is a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced softwa...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, will look at di...
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Luxoft Holding, Inc., a leading provider of software development services and innovative IT solutions, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Luxoft’s software development services consist of core and mission-critical custom software development and support, product engineering and testing, and technology consulting.
In today's digital world, change is the one constant. Disruptive innovations like cloud, mobility, social media, and the Internet of Things have reshaped the market and set new standards in customer expectations. To remain competitive, businesses must tap the potential of emerging technologies and markets through the rapid release of new products and services. However, the rigid and siloed structures of traditional IT platforms and processes are slowing them down – resulting in lengthy delivery ...
According to Forrester, public cloud platforms are evolving, blurring the lines between Software as a Service (SaaS), Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), and Platform as a Service (PaaS) in order to satisfy the needs of enterprises and widen their appeal to developers. In The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms, Q4 2014, Forrester evaluates the 16 most significant Enterprise Public Cloud Platforms and details how each vendor fulfills the 19 evaluation criteria points.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, foc...
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.
SYS-CON Events announced today that G2G3 will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit Silicon Valley, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Based on a collective appreciation for user experience, design, and technology, G2G3 is uniquely qualified and motivated to redefine how organizations and people engage in an increasingly digital world.