BIONIC FEET: First Iowan Gets New Prosthetic

Ten years ago, a bone dissolving disease, called Charcot, took Don King`s left leg. And although doctors told him only “one in ten million people” get the disease in both legs, 5 years later, he lost his right leg.

“I said to myself, I didn’t want to just sit and wait to die,” said Don King. He immediately threw himself into rehab, pushing each and every day. Eventually he was fitted for prosthetic feet. But even though they allowed him to walk, they came with a lot of limitations. Still he never gave up.

“One of the biggest things that`s helped him through it too, is his attitude, and his sheer determination that I am going to get this done, no matter what,” said Carolyn King, Don’s wife.

But Don`s determined to do more than just make it day to day, he plans to succeed in his everyday life, chores, and work around his family farm, just as much as before.

And now thanks to new bionic feet, he can.

“He can walk to the mailbox now on the gravel driveway,” said Carolyn, “He’s able to drive the truck again, and we go camping.”

When he first tried on the Élan feet, Don says, they didn’t feel that much different than his old prosthetic legs, but then once the computer started up, he said the change was like night and day. The feet are microprocessor-controlled.

“They either pick up your heel, or they bend down in front, or they move this way, just at any little twitch in the movement of your leg,” said Don.

“So when don walks with it, it makes real time adjustments according to what kind of ground he`s walking on, what the angle of the ground is, and the forces acting on the foot,” said Mike Brown, a prosthetist with Hanger Clinic.

The difference is huge for Don- “I don`t know how I done without them.”

King was the first in the state, but he’s no longer the only one using the Élan feet. In the past several months, five other Iowans have been fitted for these new prostheses.

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