Despite the seemingly endless hours standing on my feet and, to my chagrin the addition this year of a treadmill to our exhibition booth, I thoroughly enjoy working at prosthetic conferences. I love meeting participants from all over the world whose common goal is restoring mobility and creating a high quality of life to amputees. The field of prosthetics is going through a metamorphosis as new technologies are making possible what was once conceived as science fiction.
Yesterday while I was standing in the booth, I witnessed a sight that I will never forget. I saw a paraplegic woman rise out of her wheelchair and walk around the exhibition hall. She was wearing an exoskeleton system on her legs and utilized crutches for stability. Seeing her begin to walk was like witnessing a miracle, and I began to cry.
In many ways, advances in computer and bionic technology is miraculous, especially for those who will benefit from these devices. I saw prototype prosthetic hands that restored the sense of touch for the upper extremity amputee. Imagine being able to feel your child's hand for the first time. Surely that would be a miracle for the amputee who has not dared to dream of that possibility.
Sockets are being designed that will accommodate for volume fluctuations utilizing a smart phone app. The inconvenience of constantly donning and removing socks to achieve a comfortable prosthetic will enhance the quality of life for lower extremity amputees. This technology is being developed and will hopefully be brought to market within a few years.
The engineers, researchers and prosthetists that are pushing the boundaries of technology are creating miracle devices. I am honored and impressed that many of these individuals have taken the time to talk to me during the past three days as they have seemed sincerely interested in the real struggles and barriers that amputees encounter everyday. I am leaving Las Vegas with sore feet, an achy back and an excitement about the future for amputees.