Polio had prevented him from bending his left knee for more than fifty years, but in Rochester on Thursday German Bermudez was getting reacquainted with a staircase.
Bermudez is the first patient in Minnesota to use a new orthotic device called a C-Brace, KTTC reports.
The first-of-its-kind brace uses hydraulics and a computer system to monitor the user's stability and gait, the station says. Bermudez is learning to use one at Prosthetic Laboratories in Rochester.
ABC 6 News reports the C-Brace has only recently been made available outside of clinical trials in the U.S. and national experts in orthotics are on hand to watch Bermudez use it.
One of them is Eric Weber, a specialist in Seattle, who tells the station the brace has a microprocessor that reads and responds to the users movements.
"We're measuring the amount of load or pressure the patient puts on his step," said Weber. "If you reach a certain angle, it means the patient is taking this type of step."
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The Post Bulletin notes the device looks at a glance like a standard leg brace, but a tiny blue light in front provides a hint to the breakthrough technology it contains.
Weber tells the newspaper the C-Brace is a game-changer in the fields of orthotics and prosthetics. Experts are training more clinicians in Rochester to help fit patients with the brace and teach them how to use it.
Bermudez, a 61-year-old native of Colombia who came to the U.S. for graduate school and has been a research scientist at Yale University, tells the Post Bulletin he expects to use crutches less and less as he gets more comfortable with his new brace.