Skip to Content

Published on December 18, 2012

Dr. Oz Show Chooses RIC Bionics as One of the Most Innovative and Influential Health Headlines of 2012  

Health Headline #9: RIC's Bionic Leg Becomes Reality

CHICAGO – From the Dr. Oz Show Blog:

"When Zac Vawter used a newly developed, neurally-controlled bionic leg to scale 103 floors in a Chicago skyscraper, he not only accomplished what many people can’t do with a pair of natural legs, he also brought national attention to the growing field of medical technology and bionic medicine.

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) worked with Vawter to develop this new form of technology after he tragically lost his leg in a 2009 motorcycle accident. The leg uses the Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) technique, which allows for a more natural-feeling prosthetic limb. Though similar technologies have been developed for prosthetic arms and fingers, this is the first time such technology was developed for a leg.

This bionic leg differs from a traditional prosthetic leg in that it is triggered by its user’s movements and neural signals. 'One of the biggest differences for me is being able to take stairs step-over-step like everyone else,' said Vawter. 'With my standard prosthesis, I have to take every step with my good foot first and sort of lift or drag the prosthetic leg up. With the bionic leg, it’s simple. I take stairs like I used to, and can even take two at a time.'

With his new leg and lease on life, he conquered 103 floors in the SkyRise Chicago, the tallest indoor stair-climb event. The proceeds from this event benefits RIC’s research."

Read more from the Dr. Oz Show Blog: http://blog.doctoroz.com/in-the-news/top-health-stories-of-2012-worlds-first-neurally-controlled-bionic-leg-installed

About the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago

The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) is the nation’s #1-ranked provider of comprehensive physical medicine and rehabilitation care to patients from around the world. Ranked #1 by both U.S. News and World Report and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, RIC holds an unparalleled market distinction.

With a record six multi-year, multi-million dollar federal research designations awarded and funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Education’s National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research in the areas of spinal cord injury, brain injury, stroke, neurological rehabilitation, outcomes research, bionic medicine/rehabilitation engineering research, and pediatric orthopedics, RIC operates the largest rehabilitation research enterprise in the world.

RIC also operates its 182-bed, flagship hospital in downtown Chicago, as well as a network of more than 40 sites of care distributed throughout the Midwest, through which it delivers inpatient, day rehabilitation, and outpatient services.

Founded in 1954, RIC has been designated the “#1 Rehabilitation Hospital in America” by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1991. RIC sets the standard of care in the post-acute market through its innovative applied research and discovery programs, particularly in the areas of neuroscience, bionic medicine, musculoskeletal medicine and technology transfer. For more information, go to www.ric.org.

Journalists contact: mediarelations@ric.org, 312-238-4571.

All others contact: webmaster@ric.org.