Boston Bombing Survivors Spur Advances in Prosthetics: Page 2

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"My first dance happening to be so near the anniversary of the marathon bombing stands as a reminder that I'm a survivor, not a victim," Haslet-Davis said in a statement.

Because the bombing occurred at a time when the field of prosthetics was on the verge of new developments, success stories like Haslet-Davis's were able to quickly come to fruition. Previous research and development was primarily funded through the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and focused on veterans who had lost limbs in combat, but"a lot more individuals have had amputations for a variety of reasons, including young people in motor vehicle accidents, people in farming accidents, etc.," Hargrove said.

"The Boston bombing kind of broadened the horizon," Hargrove said.

How to Give Prosthetic Hands Touch Sense

Since most of the survivors were runners or otherwise very active, most will need multiple prostheses designed for different activities. Herr, a double amputee himself, says his closet is filled with different types of prostheses the way most people's closets are filled with shoes. As for a device that would go from ballroom dancing to grocery shopping to rock climbing to running…"No one's working on it yet," Hargrove said.

Still, mind-controlled prosthetics should soon make daily living much easier. Hargrove's team built a prototype of an above-the-knee prosthetic for daily living that should be "ready to send home with someone" in a couple of years.

"We're trying to allow people to perform functions like walking and then seamlessly going up and down stairs, that help you get around for daily living," he said.

This year, survivors may watch the marathon from the sidelines. But Herr predicts that at least one or two of the survivors will return to Boston one day to run the marathon again; the technology already exists to enable runners to do distances even beyond the marathon.

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