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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Do you know whom to thank for this marvelous technology, kiddies?

From the Lancaster Sunday Snooze:

E-town firm fits Carlisle man with bionic knee

Meet the man with the $100,000 bionic knee.

  • Jake Schrom sits down to get an adjustment to his bionic knee prosthetic let at Hanger Prosthetics in Elizabethtown.

Meet the man with the $100,000 bionic knee.

With a mechanical hum, Jake Schrom stands and then begins to step deliberately across the lobby of an Elizabethtown business.

He extends a muscular leg and then a leg made from aluminum and composite materials, carefully alternating the size 11 1/2 sneakers he wears on his natural foot and his artificial foot.

With a mechanical hum, Jake Schrom stands and then begins to step deliberately across the lobby of an Elizabethtown business.

He extends a muscular leg and then a leg made from aluminum and composite materials, carefully alternating the size 11 1/2 sneakers he wears on his natural foot and his artificial foot.

Three years ago, the 23-year-old was recovering from having his right leg amputated 7 inches above the knee, after a dump truck rolled on top of him and crushed his leg.

Today, Schrom, who just graduated from Penn State University, works at a tree and landscaping service in Carlisle, goes to the mall with his girlfriend, drives a car and shops at Walmart.

"I don't consider myself disabled, for the most part. I do what I want to do," said Schrom, a muscular guy who can bench-press 385 pounds in the powerlifting contest of the Paralympics, a competition for disabled athletes.

Schrom recently got a Power Knee, a high-tech device contained in a sleek-looking artificial leg. He was fitted for the device at Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, which is on the west side of Elizabethtown.

Schrom was just the 10th civilian to receive the high-tech knee, said Jerry Max, a certified prosthetist at Hanger.

There's a hint.

Known as an "intelligent knee," it has a rechargeable battery that powers or propels the user, helping him to stand up from a sitting position, go up stairs foot over foot, step over curbs and do other activities. It even provides a small amount of resistance for walking downhill.

About 30 soldiers also have received the same high-tech knee, at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Bingo!

The limb is the second artificial leg that Schrom has received since his May 2008 accident.

It is a definite step up.

"It's a huge development," Max said. "It's like a bicycle versus a motorcycle, and he has the motorcycle."

Schrom lost his leg the summer after his sophomore year at Penn State, where he was studying forestry at the Mont Alto campus.

Working for his grandfather's tree service company, he was driving a dump truck when its brakes failed.

Schrom steered the truck into a drainage ditch and it rolled, throwing him out of a window and trapping him underneath for 45 minutes.

He was taken into surgery. When he came to four days later, he didn't realize that his right leg had been amputated until his brother sat down on his hospital bed right where his leg should have been.

In the months after his accident, Schrom worked through the pain of his recovery and, with the encouragement of other amputees, quickly decided he wanted an artificial leg.

"I never doubted that I would be able to do what I wanted to do," he said.


Five months after his accident, he got his first prosthetic device, called a C-Leg, eventually returning to Penn State.

That leg was more passive. To use it, Schrom had to learn to "throw" the artificial leg in front of him as he walked. It took effort to stand and to go up steps. The process was very tiring, he said.

His new leg, which weighs about seven pounds, has multiple sensors that monitor the position and the movement of the knee. A computer helps to figure out what the user is doing and then predicts the next movement he will make.

Schrom said he qualified for the expensive knee through workers' compensation insurance. Most private insurance companies will not pay for the knee, Max said.

He's getting adjustments and help at Hanger's Elizabethtown office. That is the national company's main branch in this region, and it also has satellite offices in Lancaster, York, Harrisburg and other cities.

Since his graduation, Schrom, who lives in Carlisle, has worked full time in the family tree and landscaping service. His job takes him from an office out into clients' backyards. With practice, he anticipates being able to navigate over steppingstones and up and down hills with ease.

Self-conscious at first about his artificial leg, he no longer is. Schrom said people see or hear his Power Knee, and it turns heads.

"It's a lot more advanced than people have ever seen," he said. "It's a cool robotic deal."

And it's improved his life.

"Before, I walked because I had to," he said. "Now, I walk more for fun."



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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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