Specialized Prosthetics Being Developed for Active Duty SEALs

SAN LUIS OBISPO, CA The Naval Special Warfare (NSW) Foundation and Quality of Life Plus (QL+) teamed-up to create prosthetic limbs for active duty SEALs.

The QL+ team is made up of two three-man teams of graduate level students who build the specialized prosthetics. The California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo based project began January 2010 and the first prototypes are scheduled to be delivered to the SEALs in December.

An East Coast based SEAL is receiving a prosthetic leg and a West Coast SEAL is receiving a prosthetic hand. The project combines biomedical engineering with mechanical engineering, creating state of the art multi-purpose biomechanical prosthetic limbs.

“The principle behind this project is to improve the quality of life for the wounded in the line of duty,” said Mark Donald, NSW foundation. “What we are doing here is taking a SEAL who has to deploy with two prosthetic legs, one for swimming and one for running, and creating one leg for him.”

The East Coast based SEAL was conducting a July 2007 mission in Iraq, when he lost part of his leg to an improvised explosive device (IED). He refused to succumb to his injuries and did not want his career as a Navy SEAL to end.

“After two years of battling with the doctors, they told me that I would have to amputate part of my leg, and that would be the end of my naval career,” said the SEAL. “I have wanted to be a SEAL ever since I can remember and I refused to let this end my career, so I battled to stay active. I was also told by the doctors that I would not be able to walk for a year and a half; in nine months, not only was I walking, I was also running.

“I have been working with these guys [NSW foundation and QL+] since January of this year, and I am scheduled to receive the first prototype prosthetic leg in December of this year,” said the SEAL.

NSW is a maritime component of U.S. Special Operations Command and the Navy’s special operations force. The community is composed of more than 6,700 personnel, including 2,300 SEALs, 600 special warfare combatant-craft crewmen (SWCC), along with military support personnel, Reserve components, and civilian staff.

SEALs and SWCC focus on missions involving unconventional warfare, direct action, combating terrorism, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, personnel recovery and hydrographic reconnaissance.

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