Monday, March 24, 2008

Iraq War Creating Advances in Prosthetics

Paula Francis, AnchorIraq War Creating Advances in Prosthetics
March 24, 2008 04:48 PM PDT

Wounded soldiers returning from Iraq are getting bionic replacement parts, and the new hi-tech artificial legs are available in Las Vegas.

Dan Ramsey can relate to soldiers who have lost a limb. His own leg was blown off by a land mine in Vietnam -- an explosion that killed two other soldiers.

He's now an expert on replacements as a designer with Prosthetic Center of Excellence in Las Vegas. He says military demands speed up research and development.

"It pushes technology and gains significant advancements in prosthetics. Particularly now with computers -- microprocessors and things like that," he said.

Ramsey wears an example of the latest technology, the C-Leg Prosthesis. A microprocessor is embedded where the calf would be. The computer sensors aid amputees in walking, turning and bending, by making automatic adjustments.

The U.S. Army has helped expedite progress in getting the C-Leg to market.
"The real world has stairs, irregular terrain, curbs, things like that that you have to negotiate. So all these architectural barriers are much easier to negotiate with the c-leg," he said.

Las Vegas orthopedic surgeon and retired Captain Anthony Serfustini has worked in makeshift operating rooms in Iraq. He's now part of the trauma team at UMC. He says the Iraq War is not the first time that a conflict has sparked new inventions.

"You can go back to World War II and Vietnam, in which these conflicts infused excitement, a lot of work and a lot of designs into newer and better prosthetics for our returning servicemen," said Serfustini.

These new designs ultimately benefit civilians. Some 140,000 amputation surgeries are performed in the U.S. each year. As you might imagine, C-Legs are expensive, costing more than $30,000.

Friday, March 21, 2008

What Are You Looking At?

Born without legs, Kevin Connolly snaps photos of people staring at him -- turning the watchers into the watched.


When Kevin Connolly was ten years old his family took him to Disney World, but for some theme park visitors that day, it was Connolly who quickly became the main attraction.
Born without legs but otherwise healthy, Connolly traveled the world, taking pictures of people as they stared at him.
"I remember distinctly being surrounded by Japanese tourists trying to take my photograph without talking to me or asking me," he says from his apartment in Bozeman, Montana. "My dad was right behind me, and I remember him getting pretty frustrated with the whole process, because it was something that was happening every single day."

Born without legs, Connolly was already used to the stares of strangers -- but that moment would help him start to understand that the lens could work in both directions.

On a solo trip to Europe, more than a decade later, he was riding his skateboard down a Vienna street when he felt a man staring at him.
Connolly lifted his camera to his hip, pointed it toward the man and without even looking through the viewfinder, clicked off five or six shots.

Connolly would repeat that action 32,000 more times during his travels, creating a diverse portfolio of individuals from a broad assortment of countries. He posted some of these images online, under the title "The Rolling Exhibition."

What he captured was a paradigm shift, turning the watchers into the watched. In the process he discovered something about them -- and himself.

"While these people have, on the surface, an expression of pity or sadness or curiosity, looking at the legless guy on a skateboard," he says, "at the same time, they're opening themselves up; they're incredibly vulnerable."

For a photographer that kind of image is the Holy Grail. Connolly, from his unique perspective (he's three feet seven inches tall), seems to have found a way to capture it over and over again using himself as his subjects' focal point.

He explains his technique as not baiting people, but inviting them to look.

"If you were someone on the street," he says, "and I was passing you, my eye line would either be straight ahead, down at the ground, or more often, off in the other way with my head turned so that it would give the viewer full permission to stare without the potential of getting caught."

"Patting a legless guy on the head and telling him that he's really inspirational... is probably the last thing you wanna hear when you're trying to seriously work on a photo project." — Kevin Connolly

While gratifying artistically, it's also an unsettling position for the 22-year-old Montana State photography student. Connolly has spent most of his life shrugging off the perhaps well-intentioned, but ultimately dismissive, stereotypical role of the "inspiring" physically-challenged individual.

"That's just people looking for the easy answers," says Connolly. "So patting a legless guy on the head and telling him that he's really inspirational, and it's so amazing how quick and fast he can get around is probably the last thing you wanna hear when you're trying to seriously work on a photo project."

But Connolly isn't normal. In fact, he lives much more adventurously than many of us. With the exception of his missing legs, due to a random birth defect, the rest of his body is fine, all organs intact and fully functional.

A prosthetics manufacturer created a custom body shoe for him that looks like a leather bowl covered on the outside with a rubber tread for traction. Connolly uses the device to protect and cushion his torso during most of his activities.

Growing up, Connolly says his parents didn't coddle him and raised him like any other outdoor-loving Montana family. They took him camping and hiking. Connolly became an avid rock climber and a champion skier who took a silver medal in the X-Games.

With the prize money he won in that contest, he decided to travel alone throughout Europe and Asia. It was on that journey he began shooting the photos that would become the Rolling Exhibition.

Connolly is a champion skier and avid rock climber.
But Connolly learned something else during his photographic odyssey -- something that raised the issue of identity.

Many of the people he met, it seemed, did not wait for him to explain the reason for the absence of his legs. Instead, they automatically supplied their own narrative, one uniquely suited to their own environment or personal sensibilities.

For example, while traveling in New Zealand a woman asked Connolly if he was the victim of a shark attack. In Romania some thought he was a beggar; at a bar in Montana a man bought him a beer and thanked him for his service, believing Connolly was a wounded veteran of the Iraq War.

Connolly says he learns more from people by not correcting their assumptions.

"On the one hand, it's surreal to have that happen to you and to have that projection put upon you," he says. "But on the other hand, it's a great clue as to what's going on inside someone's head."

He's happy, he says, to be their blank slate, if that's what they need from him -- a point he makes in a striking Internet video he made to promote the Rolling Exhibition.

In it, he walks on his hands onto the middle of a stark white backdrop, his face blurred by the glare of a powerful light, which slowly drops in intensity until his face is revealed.

What it also seems to reveal is that he is a man willing, for a moment at least, to be the object of your gaze, to let you look at what he's missing -- as long as you are willing to let him do the same to you.

Kevin Connolly graduates from college in May and says his next photographic journey could include exploring some of the world's conflict zones.


-Producers: Didrik Johnck, Robert Padavick
-Video editors: Didrik Johnck, Krysten Peek
-Camera: Didrik Johnck
-Additional video and photographs courtesy Kevin Connolly and Fritz Statler

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Future of Prosthetics

Here is an interesting video on Future Prosthetics! We have come a long way!!!

Monday, March 3, 2008

Wrestling notebook: Amputee's efforts earn crowd's hearty support

Saturday, March 1, 2008 2:56 AM
By Jeremy McLaughlin


NEAL C. LAURON dispatch
Chris Canty, left, of DeSales reacts to losing a 145-pound match to Dustin Fraley of Miami Trace in Division II.

Carter, a quadruple amputee, won his opening match Thursday but lost twice yesterday and was eliminated from the 103-pound Division II tournament. After a 5-3 loss signaled Carter's exit, fans stood and applauded for a full two minutes.

Later, before the evening session, the senior was honored with a video tribute on the scoreboard and got a second, even longer ovation.

"It's been a trip," Carter said. "I'll never forget it. I'll probably brag about it my whole life. I'll probably wake up every morning and remember these last two days and what an adventure it was, all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get to this tournament."

Pleasant came into the Division III tournament looking to avenge a narrow loss to Troy Christian last year (154-151.5). Through the quarterfinal round, the Spartans were in good shape. Pleasant led Troy Christian 75-70 and both had six semifinalists.

But the evening session was a disaster for the Spartans. They lost five of their semifinal matches, two of them to Troy Christian, and are left with no chance of making up a 46-point deficit. They dropped to third behind Monroeville.

"It was a tough round," coach Doug Short said.

Defending champion Jedd Moore at 152 is Pleasant's only finalist.

Ready for No. 1
West Jefferson senior Jim Householder focused on two goals all season: get to the Division III 119-pound final and wrestle the top-ranked wrestler in the nation.

He'll do both today. Householder won 10-3 in a semifinal against Mike Kovach of Bedford Chanel. He goes against Logan Stieber of Monroeville tonight.

"(Stieber) is the one I've worked for," Householder said. "The last two years I've worked to get to his level, and it's what I've trained for. Win or lose, I know I earned my way to that final."

Get the party started
Central District wrestlers will kick off the first three Division III finals. Spencer Pierce of North Union faces Stieber's younger brother, Hunter, at 103. Tyler Heminger of Northmor goes against another Monroeville wrestler, Cam Tessari, at 112, followed by Householder.

Zach Nelson of Madison Plains will be in the 145 final. Nelson, a 2006 champion, will face Zach Toal of Troy Christian, a 2007 champion.

DeSales heavyweight John Hiles, a projected champion in Division II, lost a quarterfinal match 2-1 to Adam Walls of St. Paris Graham. A stalling call late in the first period that gave Walls a point was the difference.

Hiles rebounded with two consolation wins, including a pin. Two wins today and he would place third.

State of the state
St. Paris Graham has six finalists in Division II and all must win for it to tie the record for individual champions. Cleveland West set the mark more than 50 years ago. St. Paris Graham leads second-place Oak Harbor by 100 points.

Lakewood St. Edward leads in Division I with 119 points. Massillon Perry is second, trailing by 40. Westerville North is fourth with 51.

Individually, Tony Jameson of Austintown-Fitch advanced to the Division I 145 final. He is looking to become Ohio's 16th four-time champion.