Approximately 1,600 members of the military who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are now amputees. The ones we’ve met have an inspiring view of life and consider themselves lucky to be alive. It’s humbling to be around, and keeps everything in perspective. They ask for little to nothing in return for their sacrifice, but we as a nation owe them our best efforts to develop functional bionic limbs.
This is the third consecutive year that teams of West Point engineers have been working on a bionic foot. Their focus is to make the foot functional, light, and combat ready for returning war veterans so that they might have a higher quality of life and continue their service in the United States Armed Forces if they so desire.
Harp is a 2008 West Point grad who volunteered to test the bionic. Never short an opinion, he provided a wealth of feedback to supplement the computer-generated reports. He was also the life of the party, as you might expect.
Harp’s running shorts didn’t have any pockets to hold his phone.
Amputees expend 30% more energy to stabilize their asymmetrical gait. The purpose of the bionic foot is to normalize the amputee’s energy expenditure by powering movement as a calf muscle would, and to do this while walking or running. Click on the image above to watch a video of Harp running.
We designed this year’s version of the GR1 Bionic to house the components necessary to power the bionic foot. The challenge for us in the coming years is to work with future technology: a smaller generator, batteries, and a different cable configuration to design a ruck that will allow the wearer to power a bionic foot while also housing a combat ready load.
Each year, the construction and functionality of the bionic foot improves. Witnessing the progress is inspiring, though there is still a long ways to go. In addition to computer generated reports that showed that the motor was ill-timed and delaying its push, Harp criticized the overall weight and awkwardness of the power cords. Harp, though, left with a sense of optimism he did not possess on the ride up to West Point. The West Pointers earned the praise they received from Harp and others, and have a functional bionic foot that will serve as the foundation for additional progress.
We at GORUCK are humbled and honored to play a part in the West Point Bionic Foot project, and we’re looking forward to doing everything we can to help with its success. Our deepest thanks to the West Pointers, Harp, and all who are working tirelessly to make a difference.