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Prosthetic Foot Acts Like the Real Thing

Prosthetic Foot Acts Like the Real Thing

Estimated read time: 1-2 minutes

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Ed Yeates ReportingAn artificial foot that thinks for itself, so much so, it moves like the real McKoy. A Utah amputee tried one out today at a Salt Lake Prosthetic Center while reporters watched on the sidelines.

When we walk, our feet pretty much do what we want them to do. They twist. They bend. They go up and down. Well, this foot does the same thing, but it's not real.

At Fitwell Prosthetics in Salt Lake, amputee Keith Budge tried this new computerized bionic foot that automatically adapts to his motion. After only 20 minutes he was confident enough to pull a reporter from the sidelines and dance with her.

Fitwell's Scott Allen said, "The software is a learning software. We don't program it. It learns for itself to adapt to the patient. So it like has it's own little brain."

It replicates what the foot really does. This is the next generation prosthetic and with each one, they're getting more and more human-like. The Department of Defense is already using the Proprio foot, as it's called, on disabled soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Within three to 15 steps, the device evaluates and memorizes the patient's individual gait and motion patterns.

Flat ground, inclines, stairs? For Keith Budge, the foot feels good. "It seems to allow me to flow with each stair as I go up and down," he said. Hiking in the mountains, golf, everyday work, the foot adapts. Users can even take the shoe off and still walk comfortably around the house.

Budge says it will take a while to get use to, but he likes where this foot is taking him.

Incidentally, the name of the foot comes from its ability to always detect where it is in space -- "proprioception."

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