Amputation: Sgt. Glen Lehman's Story - Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

Skip to Content

Sgt. Glen Lehman's Story

US Army, Age 35, Jersey Shore, PA

RIC patient Glen LehmanUS Army Sergeant Glen Lehman was on a routine patrol just outside of Baghdad in 2009 when his tank was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) that seared a hole into the side of the tank. The blast ripped through Glen himself, causing several flesh wounds and burns and, worse, ripping his right arm off. His medic attended to him to stabilize him and he was transferred back to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, DC.

Walter Reed doctors had just been trained by RIC’s research physician, Dr Todd Kuiken, on a new procedure called Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) that rewires a patient’s nerves from the amputated limb to new muscle and skin. This procedure, pioneered by Kuiken and his team, allows neural signals to be picked up and read by computerized “bionic limbs” so that the wearer thinks, “move hand” and the hand moves. That innovative procedure has now been done on approximately 100 people worldwide.

Once Glen was ready, he headed to RIC’s Center for Bionic Medicine to get fit for a neural-controlled bionic arm and begin his work in state-of-the-art
clinical trials of thought-controlled bionic arms.

RIC researchers meet with Glen several times a year to refine and enhance the electrical components and signal processing speed and performance of these high-tech arm systems that allow Glen to control multiple joints simultaneously.

“If I had to compare what it is like to use this new arm versus my standard
prosthetic, I’d describe it as driving a souped-up Mustang versus a beat-up Yugo. It’s that much better,” said Glen.

Glen is active in the outdoors and with his family, and he uses the arm to help make his kid’s lunches, play sports, play catch with the dog, and work around the house.