The number of amputations among soldiers in Afghanistan rose sharply in 2010 and 2011, but despite the seemingly grim statistics, prosthetic technology has advanced so that many servicemembers return to the activities they enjoyed before their injury. Some soldiers even return to active duty, Military Times reports.
Staff Sgt. Billy Costello is one wounded warrior who has benefited significantly from the latest in prosthetic technology. He lost part of his right leg to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, but thanks to the latest advancements in artificial legs, he is able to pursue everything from snowboarding to surfing to scuba diving.
"They say the technology's there to get you back to where you used to be," he told the publication. "It's very possible. You just have to make calls and see who's done what already."
Some of the most useful artificial limbs are the X2 and X3 microprocessor knees. These innovative devices make use of gyroscopes and hydraulics to offer greater mobility and flexibility. They are also able to anticipate when the user wants to walk up and down stairs.
Such devices have become especially important over the last several years. In 2010, there were 72 soldiers in Afghanistan who needed an amputation, and by September of 2011 there were already 77, The Associated Press reports.