Eastern Iowan is first in state to test futuristic prosthetic - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Eastern Iowan is first in state to test futuristic prosthetic

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A rising number of American service members are returning from Afghanistan and Iraq missing one or more of their limbs. Just recently, Cedar Falls sailor Taylor Morris lost his legs, left arm, and right hand in a bomb explosion.

The growing need from the U.S. military has led to great advancements in prosthetic limb technology.

"When there is a war and there is a new group of young active amputees, it begs the question -- what can we do better, what can we do to make this prosthetic more life-like? Or give it more function, more like the human hand?" explained clinical specialist Julian Wells of "Advanced Arm Dynamics."

Wednesday, the first civilian from Iowa was able to use a robotic hand which will eventually change the way he's able to live his life.

"No question about it, this is definitely cutting edge!" said 26-year-old Ryan Rezin.

After just one hour of practice with the "Michelangelo Hand" and the "Bebionic 3", Rezin was able to grab a CD, which is just 5/100 of an inch thick and hold it securely between his thumb and forefinger. The prosthetic hands are a groundbreaking new product -- the result of years of research from "Advanced Arm Dynamics."

"It is a little bit daunting when you first put it on!" said Rezin.

The hands look robotic and are light years beyond the prosthetics most amputees, like Rezin, currently use.

"The other one is a little more passive and looked a little bit like a mannequin hand. This one looks like it's ready to do business!" said Rezin.

The technology is complicated, but its operation comes down to just two sensors placed on specific muscle groups. Using the hand properly takes hours of training and fine-tuning of its sensors, and the "Bebionic 3", the one Rezin prefers, is still only available on a trial basis.

"The challenge with the increased technology is increased cost. But who's to say that, just because it costs more money, the patient doesn't deserve to have it, or doesn't need it... it's not going to be an improvement to their quality of life?" said Wells.

When it is available, Rezin is eager to wear the hand full time. After just a few hours of practice, he can only imagine how life, as he's come to know it, will change.

Walter Reed National Military Medical Center works exclusively with "Advanced Arm Dynamics" for service members who have lost arms or hands. The national company opened it's Cedar Valley location after working closely with Waterloo-based "Clark and Associates Prosthetics and Orthodics" at Walter Reed.

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