The Invictus Games were held in Toronto in 2017. They are a celebration of injured veterans and sport. The participants all suffered life-altering injuries in service to their countries and have returned to battle it out on the sports fields this time. Prince Harry established the games to honour the men and women who have given so much to their countries. They have quickly become very popular and the Toronto games were a huge success.
Almost as interesting as the athletes and their stories, were the prosthetic devices being worn. The military has always been on the cutting edge of prosthetic development and the devices now being used are nothing short of incredible allowing the athletes not only to compete at high level, but to move forward in their every day lives.
Featured were everything from ‘intelligent’ lower limb prosthetic devices using high tech sensors that not only anticipate movements but execute them as well. Other athletes had motorized dermoskeletons that strap on allow the person to engage in everyday activities like walking and climbing stairs. For Liz Steeves, 32 this has been allowed her to regain her independence and live a normal life.
Some veterans benefit from free or subsidized prosthetic devices, while others have spent well over $100,000 to buy their own.
All of the veterans maintain that technical advances in prosthetic construction and advances in rehab therapy have allowed the veterans to recover faster and better, and has given them the chance to really re-integrate into mainstream society. Some of the prosthetics work so well that veterans have been able to return to military service.
In Canada 80% of amputations are due to diabetes and vascular disease, the rest is due to trauma like war injuries and car accidents, and some to illness like cancer. The civilian prosthetic market has always followed the military innovations in the field. There is hope that as the technology now in use in the military improves the devices will become more affordable for civilian use.
You can read more about the Invictus games, and see the highlighted stories here.