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Breakthrough innovations for improving health

Engineering hope for America's disabled vets

We’ve seen the faces of agony and despair. Images of soldiers who have returned from war with missing limbs and are now facing another grueling battle: learning to regain their mobility — and their lives — through the use of prosthetic devices.

Did you know that cutting-edge technology developed at The University of Texas at Austin is paving the way for more customized prosthetics and orthotic devices? And that Professor Rick Neptune and a group of mechanical engineering students at the university are making the challenging paths for these soldiers that much easier to navigate?

Neptune and his students are using UT Austin’s own technique called selective laser sintering — a process that begins with a computer design and ends with a sturdy yet flexible prosthetic device that is tailored to the wearer. 

Commercial prosthetic feet come in fixed sizes, Neptune says, but “we realized that each amputee is different, and we had this great technology to generate subject-specific, custom prosthetic devices and help improve the lives of lower-limb amputees.”

That means everything to a soldier eager to get back to normal living and, if desired, return to active duty.

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