Tags: bionic | leg | vawter | climb

Bionic Leg: Amputee Zac Vawter Climbs Willis Tower's 103 Stories

Monday, 05 Nov 2012 01:51 PM

By Dale Eisinger

Zac Vawter made history Sunday when he climbed the 103-story Willis Tower in Chicago using a mind-controlled prosthetic leg.

Vawter, who lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident, became the first person to use a bionic limb to climb such heights.

"When people would ask me if I was  nervous about the climb, I would tell them I'm more nervous about the  media," Vawter told the Chicago Sun-Times.

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Vawter's feat was part of an annual charity event called Skyrise Chicago,  put on by the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where Vawter is  receiving treatment. Researchers spent months tweaking the leg to  respond properly to Vawter's impulses. When he thinks about climbing the  stairs, muscles in his hamstring actuate the two motors in the  prosthesis.

Vawter, a resident of Washington state, will leave the leg in  Chicago to undergo further research. The leg was developed as part of an  $8 million project funded by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Bionic  arms have been available for years, but never have lower limbs of this ilk been made to accommodate amputees. However, this particular leg is  still years away from seeing a place in the marketplace.

"Everything went great," Vawter told reporters gathered at the event's end. "The prosthetic leg did its part, and I did my part."

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