The C-Leg 3 by Ottobock

In 2013 I was approved by the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) on Guam for a pair of microprocessor controlled knees (MPC), the C-leg 3 by German company Ottobock. They are a major player in the world of prosthetics and are mostly known for their microprocessor controlled knees, the C-legs. I think the many iterations (and improvements) of the C-leg came about due to our soldiers losing limbs due to IEDs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thanks to those servicemen for their sacrifices which made the improvement of prosthetics necessary.

I had started the process with DVR to get the C-legs about a year prior. It was a long battle and DVR fought to give me basic prosthetics the whole time. At first, DVR thought the C-legs would be fairly affordable, but when they saw the initial estimate they had sticker shock. They tried to send me to the Philippines for prosthetic care, but the doctors there were the ones that told my parents I would never walk again. In the meantime, a clinic in Oklahoma, Progressive, gave me a set of basic knees, sockets, and feet after they heard about my story. I will always remember their generosity.

I tried to get DVR to fund my C-legs through Progressive, but DVR came back and said I had to choose a provider in their service areas of California, Hawaii, or the Philippines. I wished they had told me that at the beginning!

I found Southern California Prosthetics in sunny Irvine and they provided a reasonable estimate. Again, DVR said it was too expensive! These MPC knees are not cheap. Luckily, I was also receiving the local insurance for prosthetic care. It only covered the cost of basic prosthetics, though. I proposed that the local insurance cover the cost of the prosthetic sockets and DVR cover the cost of the MPC knees and feet. DVR agreed. Finally! How’s that for problem solving?

The C-leg 3 knee is a microprocessor controlled knee that bends based on “toe load”. There is a sensor going from the knee to the foot that senses the amount of weight that is put on the toe, known as toe load. If the toe load is greater than 70% of your body weight, the knee will bend. That was tricky to learn. Here’s a video of my prosthetist, Rick, in the gray, teaching me how to use the C-leg 3. Stan, another prosthetist, in the blue is also coaching me. (Forgive my rude gum chewing behavior in this video!) At the beginning of this video, I was using basic 4-bar knees. Those 4-bar knees are not microprocessor controlled and required an almost goose-step to walk safely. Going from the basic knees to the MPC knees was a bit of challenge as you can see.

In this second video you can see my improvement after a couple days of walking in the C-leg 3’s.

And this was me walking in 2014. Major improvement. =)