PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Millions of people lose limbs every year due to accidents or medical conditions like diabetes or cancer. Many can be fitted with prosthetic arms and legs that can be very advanced.
It’s sophisticated computer technology that allows specialists at Moss-Rehab to analyze movement. “Here are the muscles you see during running,” Dr. Alberto Esquenazi explains as he points to a graph on the computer screen.
Dr. Esquenazi is the Chief Medical Officer at Moss-Rehab, and he says this gait and motion analysis lets him monitor how patients are progressing though rehabilitation. “That allows us to figure out if the muscles are working correctly,” he explained further.
He is a pioneer in the world of amputee rehab and prosthetics, “so the little tips in my hooks give me a lot of precision. I could take one single hair and pull that out,” he said as he demonstrated with his own prosthetic hand. Dr. Esquenazi has a unique prospective. He is an amputee himself. He lost his hand to a burn that happened in medical school when chemicals had been mislabled. “At that point, I thought I was not going to continue in medicine,” He revealed. But he did and is now helping others who have lost limbs, with refined new prosthetics.
“Patients can now do many more things that they really were not able to do before.” He said as he displayed another more advanced prosthetic hand, “this gripper for example has about 6 times more strength than what I am wearing, so I could actually grab an object and crush it.”
From strength to aesthetics, real looking hands can be attached to the prosthetics, and the movements are controlled by muscles in your forearm. Back in the lab, once patients are fitted with either arms or legs, Dr. Esquenazi can help refine the movements so that patients can start feeling normal again. “They can really get the emotional support of now having a device that will help them do more things,” he said.
Dr. Esquenazi is also working with the re-walk technology at Moss-Rehab, which is allowing paralyzed patients to walk again.