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University of Utah students create 'most advanced prosthetic ever created'

Posted at 8:14 PM, Oct 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-06 16:35:10-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Students at the University of Utah have created a prosthetic so promising, that the world's largest prosthetic company will partner with them to get it into the market.

Called the "Utah Bionic Leg" by students at the University of Utah, it's considered a huge achievement by the university that's drawn interest from the world's largest prosthetic company.

One recipient of the prosthetic is Grantsville High School football coach Alec McMorris. He lost his leg nine years ago in an accident but hasn't let that stop him from teaching nor stop him from snowboarding every chance he can get.

“When the opportunity came up that they needed a study subject to come and work with them here,” he said. “I jumped right on it.”

According to McMorris, having this new prosthetic is worlds apart compared to the prosthetic he normally wears every day.

"It has a computer chip in it has a battery, everything else, but it's still passive. You just watch me go upstairs, step over step,” McMorris said. “I can't do that on my everyday leg. it's a really fun device to go push and see what my limits are again.”

Wednesday, the company Otto Bock, the largest prosthetics company in the world, in the hopes of bringing this new design to the rest of the world.

“10 years ago, we're thinking that this may or may not be possible, we didn't know. And now here we are," said Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Tommazo Lenzi. "So this is a new lab that was just open and was made possible by a donation received from the owner and chairman of Otto Bock."

"When [the students] come here, they do realize that the things they are building really are meaningful," he said. "They're not just toys or systems that are cool. There are technologies that can help people live more freely.”

While there's much left to be done to perfect the new prosthetic, Lenzi believes they can really make a difference for those in need when it's finished.

“This is a device that can really give them some normalcy back," he said.