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Orthopedics Channel
Reported February 6, 2013

Healing Heroes: Prosthetics for Wounded Vets

SAN ANTONIO, Tex.  (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- He made a big sacrifice for his country. Now he could be making an even bigger contribution to the medical community.  It’s a story of a young soldier who helped design something that’s allowing him to do what many said could not be done.

Making routes safe for soldiers and supplies, this was army specialist Eduard Lychik’s job in Afghanistan.

“We looked for IEDs, we cleared houses,” Eduard Lychik told Ivanhoe.

Then one day a rocket attack, “It was fired at the vehicle when I was in the gunner’s hatch,” Eduard said.

He lost his entire left leg.

“Two things I could do you know, accept it and make the best of it or go downhill. I chose the first route,” Lychik explained.

Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, more than 15-hundred US troops have become amputees.

Prosthetist Bob Kuenzi works at the Center for the Intrepid, one of the US military’s premier treatment facilities for amputees. He says the goal for most is to walk.

“In Ed’s case, he decided he wanted to run,” Robert Kuenzi, MS, Certified Prosthetist, told Ivanhoe.

“I’ve always loved running and I love hiking,” Lychik said.

Bob tells us soldiers running with a below the knee amputation is common, but it’s pretty rare for above the knee amputees and almost unheard of for hip amputees like Eduard.

“I would not put too much hope in that,” Kuenzi stated.

But Eduard would not give up hope. So he and Bob came up with this.

The hip prosthesis they designed, after a lot of trial and error, might not look that special.

“I think we’re on version number five right now,” Kuenzi explained.

It has no joints, just the hip fitting, a pylon, and a running blade.

“It all acts like kind of a series of springs that, that deflect and bounce,” Kuenzi said.

It works. Eduard uses his torso and pelvic muscles to move it step over step.

Just three weeks after the first functional version was ready Eduard ran the Tough Mudder, 12 mile course with dozens of obstacles.

“It was just the biggest challenge I’ve ever had,” Lychik explained.

Since then, he’s run two half marathons. He wore a gas mask during the last one to honor other wounded warriors and his mile time is better than what most people with two legs run.

“Last time I clocked was about eight, under eight minutes,” Lychik stated.

Bob, who as it turns out is an amputee himself, is glad the soldier never gave up his goal. He says other vets, even children with bone cancer who face an amputation like Eduard’s, might also be able to run with this prosthetic.

“You can do it if you, if you put the effort in,” Kuenzi concluded.

Right now, Eduard is focused on his next goal running a full marathon.

“I could have died in Afghanistan, but I lived. So I really have to take advantage of this opportunity and take advantage of life now. I really do have a lot of things that I want to accomplish and I think this is only just the beginning,” Lychik explained.

The hip prosthesis weighs about nine pounds. Bob and Eduard continue to tweak and improve it after every race. Bob says he has been contacted by other professionals interested in learning about the design.

More Information

Click here for additional research on Healing Heroes: Prosthetics for Wounded Vets

Click here for Ivanhoe's full-length interview with Robert Kuenzi

If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Andrew Mcintosh at amcintosh@ivanhoe.com

 

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