Reporting Nancy Harty
CHICAGO (CBS) – As more veterans return from combat without an arm or leg, there’s a push to boost research and care in the field of prosthetics.
Senator Dick Durbin is introducing two bills that aim to get more people working on robotic arms or legs for the roughly the 1,700 American military men and women who’ve lost a limb in Iraq or Afghanistan.
“Wounded warriors deserve the best medical care that our grateful nation has to offer,” said Durbin
One proposal would set aside $50 million dollars in grants over several years for universities and colleges to develop master’s programs in orthotics and prosthetics.
In turn, the schools would be required to rotate students through VA-affiliated facilities, like the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
The other measure would centralize research on artificial limbs, helping in the care of roughly 600,000 veterans and civilians who’ve lost an arm or leg.
At the Rehab Institute, doctors and engineers are working on robotic legs that would last longer than the current 3-5 year lifespan.
Dr. Todd Kuiken, director of the Center for Bionic Medicine at RIC, says some of the young veterans that come back from conflict without a leg need a replacement prosthesis after three years because of how active they are.
He estimates a robotic leg costs between $20,000 to $80,000, which is covered by the VA.