The future of high-tech bodies - FOX 13 News

The future of high-tech bodies

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The photos offer a glimpse of life as Fred Langdale once knew it – a high school athlete spending most of his time outdoors.

But four short months ago a near fatal encounter with an eight foot alligator changed that life.  Fred's right forearm was lost inside the gator.

"By the time they got the arm out of the gator, it was too far gone to reattach," he said.

Before his wounds were healed, Langdale vowed he'd return to activities he loved.

To do that, he'd need the help of this team at Hanger Prosthetics.

"I have the best job in the world and the coolest thing - somebody wheels in and they walk," said Dan Strzempka of Hanger's Prosthetics.

Strzempka's first experience with a prosthetic was at age four.  He lost his leg in an accident. 

"I never took no for an answer," he said. "It took me a year to learn how to ride a bike, but I wasn't going to give up, and it's the same thing I do with my patients."

At Hanger's Sarasota facility, Dan shows us how prosthetics are formed, molded, sanded and fitted to make them as comfortable as possible.

"I like the hard stuff, which is my thing ... love doing it ...easy stuff is boring," he said. 

Those challenges include making a tail for Winter the Dolphin.

If you remember, Morgan Freeman played a character based on the role Strzempka played in Winter's journey.

Today, he continues to make her tail even better.

"This is the potion her body goes into. This is her propeller - the fluke - and this is the actual  joint the part that translates into the energy from here to here," he shows us the tail Winter recently outgrew. 

Computers will soon track her muscle use, strain and weaknesses.  Similar technology helps humans like Peter Goldblatt

"I had polio when I was 2 years old," he said.

Two years ago post-polio syndrome set in.   He couldn't stand without support. 

"They fitted me with a brace, which had two modes," he said. "If I misstep, this leg would collapse and I would go down."

That increased the risk for problems like hip fractures. Peter was one of a handful of patients and the first in the United States to try out a new device called C-Brace by Ottobock.

The brains of this German-made prosthetic are housed on the side an electronic - Nano-tech nervous system sensing and reacting to Peter's every step.  

"I'm just so grateful I don't have to worry about falling," he said.

Similar types of sensors control Fred's new version 3, Be-Bionic arm.

"It's similar to what a normal hand can do," Fred demonstrates for us at his home in Moorehaven, Fla.

Muscle twitches transduced and translated into signals his hand can understand. 

"I still got two muscles left in my arm: One here and one there - and one to open and one to close," as he moves his arm.

This allows him to take on the world with two hands -- not one.

More information at:


Hanger Prosthetics

Dan Strzempka

Sarasota, FL

Be-bionic Arm V3



Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Winter the Dolphin

Dolphin Tale

Warner Brothers

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