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U.S soldiers in Afghanistan develop simple prosthetic leg using local resources


July 17, 2011

Maj. Brian Egloff puts a sock on an 8-year-old Afghan boy to aid the fitting of the prototype prosthetic leg (Image: Pfc. Justin Young)

Maj. Brian Egloff puts a sock on an 8-year-old Afghan boy to aid the fitting of the prototype prosthetic leg (Image: Pfc. Justin Young)

While we've covered many developments in the field of prosthetics, such high-tech advances are beyond the reach of those in the developing world where the rates of amputation due to war are highest. Now U.S. Army soldiers stationed in Afghanistan have developed a simple prototype prosthetic leg that can be constructed using local resources to allow the victims of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and land mines to get back on their feet quickly and cheaply.

Although he says he could have contacted a charity in the U.S. to get high-quality prosthetic limbs for a handful of victims near Forward Operating Base Pasab, Afghanistan, Dr. (Maj.) Brian Egloff, brigade surgeon, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, said it would only have been a temporary solution and so he and his colleagues set about finding an enduring design for a prosthetic leg.

The result was a prototype consisting of a simple cast attached to a metal rod with a flat hooked foot. The cast can be fitted in as little as a day and can be recast to accommodate the growth of the wearer. The metal rod and flat hook can be easily reproduced and allow the patient to walk more naturally.

An eight-year-old boy who lost both legs after stepping on a land mine and needed to be carried around on his father's back received the first prototype leg on June 26, 2011.

"It helped knowing that the leg was for a small 8-year-old boy who was happy all the time - despite his situation," said Warrant Officer Brian Terry, 710th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd BCT, who constructed the prototype.

"This patient and people like him have no mobility whatsoever," added Egloff. "It's all about increasing mobility and allowing them to live a more productive lives."

Terry said the next step is for the Afghan doctors in this region to make their own prosthetics and to train them how to instruct victims on the use of the leg.

Source: U.S. Army

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

Incredible! Well its good to see that these fine people stick a bit of plastic to the kids legs after they just blew them off. Seems fair


Actually \"winning\" in Afghanistan means empowering the people most touched by the horror of terrorism and failed government. This is excelent.

Charles Bosse


"Incredible! Well its good to see that these fine people stick a bit of plastic to the kids legs after they just blew them off"

The cowards who lay the IEDs and mines are NOT the Americans.

Ian Colley.


@singularity Meh - it is morons like you who denigrate the good work done by people (in and out of the military) to aid those who are less fortunate. IED\'s are placed by insurgent forces (Taliban in Afganistan) around the world, and not just in combat hot zones. If you must make a comment, get the facts right and apportion blame accordingly. Afghani\'s blew off this kids leg, ther US military medical team came up with an affordable and achievable solution to a growing problem (everywhere).

Kudos to Dr. B. Egloff (Maj. US Army) and his colleagues.

Darth Stig

Sadly, they won\'t actually \"get back on their feet\".

Michael Schmitt

To bad there is no a cheap prosthetic positive mind to replace the ones with negative comments. There should be none! This is just one step in the cog showing love and compassion in a country that doesn\'t have much of either. Who would if their country was war torn?

Will, the tink

It\'s true that the insurgents are the ones planting the IED\'s. It\'s arguable, however, that these children would not have been injured if allied forces had not invaded Afghanistan in the first place.

Whether you agree or disagree with the decision to invade, it was always virtually guaranteed that some civilians would be injured or killed as a result of the occupation. The decision makers surely knew this, and so they share in the responsibility.

That said, the soldiers who designed this prosthesis are true humanitarians.

James Stouffer
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