Press for iWalk

More than 1,000 US service members have lost a limb in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But many are actually returning to combat thanks to bionic legs and arms.  The latest weapon on the battlefield is not a robot, but a bionic leg.  In one case, attached to Sgt. Jourdan Smith of the US army. “It's kind of like I have my leg back when I got this one, 'we're gonna start giving you power now' wow, that's awesome!

A bionic foot with a battery pack could put the spring back in the step of people who wear leg prostheses.  Prosthetics company iWalk and an MIT team have designed a bionic ankle that uses energy from a battery to push the foot forward as the person wearing it takes a step.

As a teenager, MIT professor Hugh Herr was caught in a blizzard while climbing Mount Washington. He lost both legs below the knee to frostbite. His Cambridge start-up, iWalk, has spent the last five years developing the world’s most advanced prosthetic foot. iWalk’s PowerFoot BiOM device requires less effort to walk on than a traditional prosthetic, by storing energy as you walk and releasing it at the right point in your stride. The first devices were shipped to Walter Reed Army Medical Center earlier this year, and a wide release is planned for 2012.

Nearly 2 million Americans are living without limbs. But it’s the age of the bionic breakthrough, and now man is meshing with machine and allowing people with no legs or arms the power to do anything they want.