A few decades ago, going up and down the stairs was an ordeal for lower-limb amputees, even dangerous. These five short videos show how bionic knees and ankles have made this important task so much easier!
Unilateral Bionic Ankle Without Power
Very smooth descent using the bionic Freedom Kinnex foot/ankle from Proteor USA. Going up the stairs isn’t quite as smooth, but don’t worry, nothing a little electric propulsion won’t fix…
Unilateral Bionic Ankle With Power
This powered bionic ankle makes going up and down the stairs so smooth, it’s difficult to tell it apart from a natural gait. Originally the brainchild of MIT professor Hugh Herr, it is now the Empower Ankle from Ottobock.
Bilateral Bionic Ankles With Power
This is frankly incredible. Using two Empower Ankles, this bilateral amputee can run up and down stairs faster than the so-called able-bodied author of this article. Actually, he could probably whup me in many things!
Unilateral Bionic Knee
This video features the Genium X3 demonstrating still more of its extraordinary capabilities. To walk up these steep stairs with no hands requires a very high level of confidence — something that we see quite often with experienced Genium X3 users.
Bilateral Bionic Knees
To us, this is the most incredible video of all. For a bilateral above-the-knee amputee, going up and down the stairs without bionic assistance can be quite difficult. Here, a pair of Genium bionic knees from Ottobock greatly simplifies the task.
We would like to give a tip of the hat to all the scientists, engineers, and fearless amputee testers who made these technologies possible. Bionics has indeed conquered the stairs. But we have to make these devices more affordable. They are currently beyond the financial means of almost everyone who can benefit from them, and that’s a real tragedy!
For a complete description of all current lower-limb technologies, devices, and research, see our comprehensive guide.