Published by KPBS
In the 17 years since military operations began in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 1,700 service members have had combat related amputations. The majority of them lost one or both legs.
For many of them, the long, involved process of getting comfortable with prosthetic legs prevents them from getting back to their lives. It’s a problem that inspired University of Miami professor Bob Gailey to develop a new app called ReLoad.
“It’s kind of like taking back a physical therapist in your pocket,” Gailey said.
Veterans are testing ReLoad at the VA in Miami and at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Study participants put sensors on their legs, their prosthetics, and their lower backs whenever they walk or exercise. The sensors sync up with the app and give audio feedback to the user in real time.
In particular, it warns them when they are walking with an uneven gait — a problem that’s common in amputees and can lead to back pain, arthritis, and other muscle and joint problems.