Prosthetic technology gives soldiers a new outlook on life
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WATERTOWN, N.Y.--It happened to Shaun Tichenor in Afghanistan.
"I was on a dismounted patrol in Afghanistan. Stepped on a pressure plate IED," said Shaun Tichenor, 3-85 Wounded Warrior Battalion.
It also happened to David Taylor.
"Two pieces of wood collapsed together and set off the explosive charge," said David Taylor, 1-32 Infantry.
Two young men, forever changed by war. Both eventually falling to the inevitable.
"The main low point was when they told me they couldn't salvage my foot. I had to make the decision to amputate," said Tichenor.
"It was a little bit mind boggling at first because I wasn't sure how much of my life I'd get back," said Taylor.
But both men realized they couldn't and wouldn't give up.
"It's an example that I'm setting for my kids. As they grow up I don't want to be the example of once he got hurt he gave up,” Tichenor explained.
"I'm fairly young. I'm 25. I don't want to spend the rest of my years just kind of laying around," said Taylor.
It wasn't long before they were on the path, starting rehab, seeing others succeed.
"I had no idea about prosthetics until I had one…You kind of see the end state when you start and that's kind of motivating to see where you'll be in a few months,” said Tichenor.
The man helping them get there is Roger Howard of Howard Orthotics and Prosthetics in Watertown. There, the soldiers are progressing one step at a time.
"I like to call it the new normal. It's normal for me now," said Tichenor.
Roger Howard says technology is giving these guys something never before dreamed of. They both wear the bionic foot. Howard says it's second to none.
"Every time this country's been to war, the government funds an extreme amount of research and development across all fields in health care," said Roger Howard, Howard Orthotics & Prosthetics.
Howard says the foot allows the user to live a more normal life. It functions like a normal foot, with ankle movements and all, taking pressure off of the good leg. It's also a huge boost when going up or down inclines or over rougher ground. All things that help a person not have to use every ounce of energy they have to just get around.
"If you're able to come home and see your children and your family and you still feel like I've got some energy to go, the quality of life improves for your family," said Howard.
And if that technology wasn't enough, it can all be controlled from a smart phone using Bluetooth.
Prosthetic technology is also helping do more. This foot is specifically designed for running. The technology is helping soldiers do just about everything.
"You can run. You can swim. If you want to play basketball they have sports activity legs. Skydiving. I went hiking on Mount Washington when I was home on 30 days of leave. I had no problem with it," said Taylor.
And now these guys are back at work, in the Army, doing what they can to continue serving their country.
"It's something I want to do. I want to make a career out of it. I want to do 20 plus years. That's my chosen profession," said Tichenor.
"A lot of the stuff I do is at my own pace and my own setting so I don't over exert myself or cause any pain to myself. Other than that I can do everything I used to," said Taylor.
And Howard says that's what this is all about.
"I have two grandfathers that both served in World War II. Every time I manage an individual that's from the military I think of them. I have an ingrained spirit that they're fighting for our way of life, it's my responsibility that I do what I can do to maintain their way of life… That's the difference between new technology and old technology,” said Howard.