Shark Attack Victim Has World's Most Advanced Robotic Leg
by Nick Beres
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A teenager who barely survived a shark attack is now a key player in the development of what may well be the world's most advance robotic leg.
"Oh, it's really cool. I don't think there's that many other people in the country doing it," said Craig Hutto, now 23-years old and attending MTSU.
Six years ago Hutto was fishing with his brother near Panama City, Florida when he was attacked by a large bull shark. He lost more than half the blood in his body. Paramedics stopped the bleeding, but could not save his leg.
Now,years later,Hutto is working with the Vanderbilt robotics lab to develop a high-tech new robotic leg.
"He can go about 14,000 steps with the leg without needing a recharge," said Brian Lawson, a doctoral student working on the project. He said Hutto is the perfect guinea pig to test the robotic leg.
"He's a very young amputee and very active," said Lawson.
Hutto said the new device is far better than his old prosthesis leg. When he walks on a treadmill the high tech leg responds more like a natural human leg. Hutto said a mini-computer brain helps the leg react to changes in stride and pavement making for a smoother and safer stride.
"This leg intuits when he wants power from it so the knee and the ankle push him forward when he's trying to walk," said Lawson.
The leg still needs work and Hutto said he'll do whatever he's asked to help perfect it. The new leg could improve the lives of thousands of amputees.
While working on the leg Hutto is now pursuing a degree in nursing. He said his experience with the shark attack changed his plans from computer science to a field where he can help people the way his nurses helped him.