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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: February 15, 2006
No: 06-07

New partnership looks to improve physical capabilities of military amputees

NATICK, Mass. -- The Natick Soldier Center (NSRDEC), the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine (USARIEM), and the Walter Reed Army Medical Center’s Military Amputee Research Program (MARP) have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to improve physical performance of military amputees.

“The goal of the program is to sponsor and conduct research that provides military amputees with the best technology and treatment possible, including rehabilitation,” said Dr. John Obusek, Ergonomics Team Leader, NSRDEC. The objective is to help amputees achieve a level of physical capability that is compatible with continued service on active duty.”

Under the MOU, NSRDEC and USARIEM are collaboratively applying their knowledge in Soldier biomechanics and human performance to evaluate the capabilities of the amputee relative to the physical requirements demanded of all Soldiers, according to Obusek.

Scientists at the Biomechanics Lab will study the effect of various forces on human movement. Amputee Soldiers will be studied running, jumping, and using military packs.

NSRDEC and USARIEM scientists are specialists in the field of biomechanics. NSRDEC and USARIEM already work together in a joint program focusing on biomechanics studies and investigating ways to avoid injury and improve Soldier performance. NSRDEC is considered the leading expert on the biomechanics of Soldier tasks, including military load carriage.

NSRDEC’s Biomechanics Laboratory is a unique facility housing equipment capable of three-dimensional analysis of human movement, measurement of external forces on the body, monitoring of muscle activity, and real-time mapping of pressure patterns associated with wear of clothing and equipment.

According to Obusek, NSRDEC’s Biomechanics Laboratory has state-of-the-art motion capture systems and a patented dual force plate treadmill necessary for this type of study.

Walter Reed’s Military Amputee Training Center and its U.S. Army Amputee Patient Care Program opened a year ago in November. The center brings together all aspects of amputee patient care and addresses the medical and rehabilitation needs of Soldiers.

The work performed under the new MOU will benefit both Soldiers seeking to return to active duty as well as those who are not.

“All military amputees will benefit from the output of this program, whether it is their intent to remain on active duty or not,” said Obusek. “Advances in both prosthetic technology and treatment that arise from this program will certainly have direct application to civilian amputees as well, as has been the case historically following other major conflicts.”

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This page last updated on 15 February 2006.