Advances in prosthetics offer hope to Boston amputees

WASHINGTON – Life changed in an instant for victims of the Boston bombings.

Exactly one week ago, some were completing the most famous marathon in the world. Dozens of others were watching near the finish line.

Now, a number of them are amputees.

Both psychological and physical recovery will be challenges.

But amputees will begin therapy with greater chances of restored mobility than would have been possible just a decade ago.

Combat veterans have returned from two wars with similar injuries. Their needs have pushed the development of prostheses at a remarkable rate.

“That offers great encouragement for all individuals with limb loss,” says Paul Pasquina, medical director of the amputee program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“We have advances in socket technology, advances in computer-based prosthetic components, as well as motorized lower limb prosthetics that were not available 10 years ago,” he says.

It may be too soon for victims of the Boston bombings to embrace the path ahead as amputees. But their capabilities after recovery are far reaching.

“We have prosthetic components that are available today that will allow one to return to running a marathon or even potentially an ultra marathon,” Pasquina says.

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