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New procedure provides people with amputations restored mobility, less pain

Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
Broc Potts works with physical therapist Amy Compston at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute to learn how to snap on his new prosthetic leg that attaches to a bar surgically implanted into his femur.

Known as osseointegration, the surgery involves implanting a metal bar that extends outside of the body and connects to a snap-on prosthesis. It's part of a new program with/involving Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center, James Cancer Hospital, Solove Research Institute, and Wexner Medical Center.

"It's outside the skin to the patient's body allowing it to function better," Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Joel Mayerson said. "Patients won't have to wear a socket outside their body that can get sweaty, cause skin problems, can pinch, be painful and wear defects into the skin, and cause blisters."

Osseointegration provides more natural movement when combined with targeted muscle reinnervation, a technique that involves attaching severed nerves to remaining muscle. The procedure prepares the residual limb to interact with electrodes that allow patients to control their artificial limb with their brain,

“We’re creating sort of the Luke Skywalker effect in Star Wars of the brain trying to move a body part the way it normally would," Mayerson continued. "And it actually does move the prosthesis because the nerve is firing in this similar way."

Broc Potts has struggled with blistering while using a traditional socket prosthetic leg. But he's been able to move more comfortably since having the procedure..

"I can actually enjoy going to the zoo with my family and places that require longer walking and not have to worry about being in pain," Potts said.

The Comprehensive Cancer Center hopes to make osseointegration more widely accessible and eventually a solution that's implemented at the time of an amputation.