Lt. Col. Bryan Forney and IDEO Braces

Lt. Col. Bryan Forney spent almost a year in a wheelchair due to severe burns and damage to his legs. Because of IDEO braces, Forney is given added support and is able to use his own momentum to walk independently.

AIRED: 11/09/2016 | 00:03:02
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This all looks great. Nothing here? That's never an issue? No, that's old. That used to be an issue all the time, but it hasn't been a problem. Because his burns damaged muscles in his legs and feet, Forney spent almost a year in a wheelchair. So for a while there was some question as to whether or not I was going to be able to walk. I can push down with my right foot, but other than that my ankles pretty much don't work at all.

What gives Forney the strength to stand and walk are these braces invented here called the IDEO, which stands for Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis.

How longs does it take you to get rolling in the morning? Depends on when you start the clock. When the alarm goes off, it takes me like half an hour, but if you start when I actually start moving it's about 10 to 15 minutes. Because I've got the IDEO there to give me some rigidity, I can basically lean into it. I can put my force of my weight into this upper cuff and the strength of the struts on the back keep me upright and then when i step I can load it and it flexes and it allows me to push off. The devices work by storing energy and supporting injured legs and ankles. Certainly, by and large, most of our cases are going to be traumatic war-related kinds of injuries. If your ankle hurts so bad you can barely function for most folks, either I have to stop everything I'm doing or I might be considering amputation. And we've had a lot of people who have considered amputation until they got into this andthey just said, 'no, okay, I can work with that. My pain level now is manageable, and I can go on with life again.' Chief prosthetists John Ferguson is in charge of fitting wounded service members with the IDEO and with custom-made artificial limbs. The biggest thing you'll notice different is that there's no heel cushion, so it just kind of hits and then bounces you forward. We have an obligation to provide whatever we can to enable someone to get back to a productive life again, and that's not going to change. These are people in their twenties. They're gonna live till whenever - 70, 80, 90 - god-willing a hundred years old, right, if we want to go that far? So we have a lot that has to be continually invested to keep folks at the level of activity that they've now been rehabilitated to. A little more than three years after his injury, Lieutenant-Colonel Forney returned to duty as the operations officer for a Marine Corps brigade in San Antonio. Looks like you've had some OT practice.

An IDEO's a pretty expensive piece of gear but, because of the IDEO I'm going to retire from the Marine Corps. I'm going to be a functioning member of society. I'm going to be able to go get a job. I'm not going to be collecting disability insurance my entire life because I'm stuck in a chair and can't go anywhere and can't do anything. So it's a big investment, but I think the return on the investment for IDEO is pretty massive.