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Lt Dan Berschinski
WRAMC
PO Box 4180
6900 Georgia Ave NW
Washington DC 20307

1/17/10

Update 1-17-10

Many folks have asked about updates on the timeline for Dan's rehab.  The bottom line is that it's going to take quite a while--probably on the order of a year or so more.  As you might expect, each soldier going through the rehab process is unique in terms of both the severity of his/her injury and his/her ability to acclimate to the challenges of using prosthetics.  With that in mind, each individual moves through the rehab process at a personalized rate, and so it's difficult to generalize a timeframe.

Dan, it seems, is progressing fairly quickly.  Here's a video from a walking session this week:



Those of you who have been following Dan's progress closely may sense that this video looks similar to those I posted in December, and you wouldn't be wrong.  Dan is still working on creating muscle memory and practicing his technique, and is still placing a fair amount of weight on the parallel bars at his sides as he works on his balance.  The differences, however, are twofold:  first, Dan now walks on his legs for about an hour a day, versus just a few minutes back in December; and second, the legs themselves (more accurately, the sockets that connect the legs to Dan's body) are constantly being tweaked by Walter Reed's technicians to better accommodate Dan's unique body shape and gait.

In fact, even in the week since I shot the movie above, the prosthetic technicians have made a fairly significant change to the socket on Dan's left leg that we're hopeful will be a major step in the right direction.

A good socket needs to be made of a rigid enough material--usually hard plastic--that it can hold Dan upright as he swings his C-leg while walking, and also hold him steady when standing.  The tradeoff for this rigidity is that it's pretty uncomfortable for Dan to sit down when he has his legs on, because he has the socket's layer of hard plastic between his body and the chair.

In response to this issue, Walter Reed's prosthetic technicians are developing sockets that use carbon fiber instead of plastic.  The carbon fiber runs along the inseam and outseam of the socket, and is so rigid and light that it allows for a soft plastic on the top and bottom of Dan's thigh.  The result is that the socket is rigid enough to support Dan when he's walking, and much more comfortable when he's sitting.  Here's a side shot of the carbon fiber socket:



Given that it's much easier for Dan to have his legs on now, we had a little fun last night.  Here's Dan showing me his range of motion:



And Dan and Sabrina comparing their relative flexibility:


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