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Advances in rehab tech helps patients get back on their feet

5:25 PM, Oct 31, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) --For victims of serious trauma the path to rehabilitation begins. It is not an easy road, but advances in rehab tech is helping those with disabilities get back to their normal lives.

Adrian Haslett-Davis and her husband Adam were near the marathon finsh line when tragedy struck.

Haslett-Davis says, "It was a beautiful day in Boston and we were able to walk the marathon route. And the next thing we knew we were lying on the sidewalk and begging for our lives to be saved, it was horrible."

She lost her left foot in the blast, and now she is walking again. She got a Gala Victory Award last night for showing resilience in the face of adversity. Advances in artificial limbs, makes it possible for her to walk in just a few months.

Prosthetist Erin King of MedStar NRH/Nascott says, "Now they incorporate more computer driven assistance."

We are talking computerized knees, computerized ankles, micro-processors, incorporating software that is programmed directly inside the device.

"We actually have to connect the person to the computer to program everything so we will program the resistance for the swing," adds King.

CSI actor Robert David Hall uses this technology. He has 2 computer aided artificial legs. He lost his limbs in an accident 35 years ago.

Hall says, "I have a computer chip in this one, I just plug it in and charge it up."

And the progress is still evolving, check out the latest generation of exoskeletal technology. It is designed to help overcome paralysis. This patient was bound to a wheelchair for several years.

Dr. Pam Ballard of MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital says, "It has a variable assist function. They can use that strong muscle to be activated and then the machine will actually help the muscle that is paralyzed at the same time."

Adrian Haslett-Davis says, "I'm diving with sharks in January and designing a fin for that"

As for Adrian, she is designing many different types of prosthetics. She just picked up this prosthetic foot with a 2 and a half inch heel, and she is delighted.

Haslett-Davis says, "Nothing is gonna stop me from getting back into heels, not at all! I've been 6 and a half months in flats, that's a long time in flats!"

Adrian is a ballroom dancer and her goal is to design a prosthetic foot that will allow her to get back on the dance floor.