ND Man walking on one of the First Symbionic Legs in the World

Walking. It's a simple task most of us never think about. Except for the man you are about to meet. For nearly 3 years one Bismarck resident has had to think about every step, until now. Reporter Sarah Gustin shows you how advanced technology is giving a gift to a man who didn't know if he would ever walk again. 

(Steve Herman / Symbionic Leg Recipient) "It happened July 9th, 2009.  A memory like Pearl Harbor in my mind."  The day a motorcycle accident changed Steve Herman's life forever. Steve is the first in the state, and one of only 40 in the world to be fitted with a symbionic leg. Steve's old prosthesis had a bionic knee, but now he is walking on a bionic knee and bionic ankle.

(Steve Herman / Symbionic Leg Recipient) "So now my leg and my foot just act fairly close, to a normal leg and foot."

(Eric Lieux / Great Plains Prosthetics and Orthotist ) "One he got on to the prosthesis, felt comfortable, he took off."  Eric Lieux is Steve's doctor. Lieux says there's been bionic knees and bionic feet for years, but the two could never be used together. This is the first prosthetic in the world that is integrated with both.

(Eric Lieux / Great Plains Prosthetist and Orthotist ) "The sensors in the toes allow Steve to go into all terrain circumstances. so if he is walking in the grass, and there is resistance on the toes. The prosthesis senses that. Puts a little more energy into the knee to keep it from unlocking and raises the toes higher so you don't have that particular resistance or drag."

(Steve Herman / Symbionic Leg Recipient) "I travel a lot, I still do. I travel about 50-thosuand miles a year.All by air. I travel by myself. I golf three times a week."  Steve says he also now walks on the treadmill at least 4 miles a day.

(Steve Herman / Symbionic Leg Recipient) "I'm just grateful for where I am at. Every day is a good day. I don't have a bad day anymore."

Dr. Lieux says Steve's walking rate is between 1.8-2.5 mph. He says you and I normally walk at about 1.7 mph.

Sarah Gustin

Great Plains Rehabilitation Services, a division of St. Alexius Medical Center, is the first in the field of Prosthetics in North Dakota, and but for a few days would have been the first in the entire upper Midwest, to custom fit the SYMBIONIC® LEG. Today, there are only approximately 40 of these advanced-technology legs in the world. The SYMBIONIC® LEG is designed for an above-the-knee amputee and is integrated with both a bionic knee and bionic ankle. “For years there have been bionic knees and bionic feet, but they could never be used together on the same patient. This is the first in the world that is integrated with both,” says Eric Lieux, Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist at Great Plains.  

The knee and foot work together to sense in real-time where the amputee is and what environment they are walking on, allowing the leg to automatically make adjustments for ground forces and terrain changes. The leg is equipped with an advanced stumble recovery feature which provides instant stance support should the user trip. Additionally, the leg allows the user to switch shoes and even walk barefoot without compromising the settings of the leg. According to Great Plains Marketing Specialist Laura Henkelman, “For many, this is everyday life, but for an amputee this may be everything.”

For more information on products and services available at St. Alexius Great Plains Rehabilitation Services, call 701-530-4000 or 800-222-4989, or click here.