Can an Ankle-Foot Orthosis Change Hearts and Minds?


The current military conflicts of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom have been characterized by high-energy explosive wounding patterns, with the majority affecting the extremities.  While many injuries have resulted in amputation, surgical advances have allowed the orthopaedic surgeon to pursue limb salvage in the face of injuries once considered unsalvageable. The military limb salvage patient is frequently highly active and motivated and expresses significant frustration with the slow nature of limb salvage rehabilitation and continued functional deficits. Inspired by these patients, efforts at this institution began to provide them with a more dynamic orthosis. Utilizing techniques and technology resulting from cerebral palsy, stroke, and amputation research, the Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis was created. To date, this device has significantly improved the functional capabilities of the limb salvage wounded warrior population when combined with a high-intensity rehabilitation program. Clinical and biomechanical research is currently underway at this institution in order to fully characterize the device, its effect on patients, and what can be done to modify future generations of the device to best serve the combat-wounded limb salvage population. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 20(1):8–18, 2011)

Jeanne C. Patzkowski, MD, Ryan V. Blanck, CPO, Johnny G. Owens, MPT,
JasonM. Wilken, PhD, MPT, James A. Blair, MD, and Joseph R. Hsu, MD