Oklahoma Veteran Tests New Bionic Leg

Friday, June 17th 2011, 7:03 pm
By: News 9

Darren Brown, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma veteran that might have been slowed down by injury is at the front of the pack these days thanks to a bionic leg.

IN 1989, Bill Dunham's Army Ranger Squad received friendly fire during a mission in Panama.  The attack took the lives of some of his squad, but Dunham survived with massive injuries.

Doctors initially wanted to fuse his right leg and ankle back together, but they weren't optimistic about the long-term use of them.  Dunham made the tough decision to amputate his leg just above the knee.

"So I said 'Let's go ahead and amputate,'" said Dunham.  "Why not dispense with it and move on?"

Dunham is one of a select group chosen to test the new Genium Bionic Prosthetic System, a technology developed in collaboration with the U.S. military.  The system was developed specifically for wounded service members who wished to return to active duty.

"It basically has its own brain,' said Chad Simpson.  Simpson has been Dunham's prosthetist since he's been comiing to Hanger Prosthetics.  "It has two microprocessors on board, so all the time it's gathering and collecting data."

"We can actually program (it) with a computer," Dunham said.  "And I have the option to put in snow skiing mode."

The system is even water-resistant, a luxury that Dunham has never had with any other prosthetic.  Simpson demonstrated by pouring an entire bottle of water over the appliance as Dunham moved it around. 

The system carries a ninety-five thousand dollar price tag, but Dunham's working on that.

"You just feel like you're out there just tryin' to live your life as normal as possible, and you don't have to worry about, y'know what's goin' on in your life."