MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Researchers have developed a first-of-its kind prosthetic swim leg. They say it could dramatically change the lives of the nearly two million Americans who have lost a limb, including Kevin Vaughan.
Kevin is back in the water, swimming in a way he has not been able to since he lost his leg seven years ago.
“It was huge. I’m not just kicking with one leg anymore.”
The 28-year-old is wearing the Fin: A first of its kind prosthetic leg, which gives people like Kevin the ability to get in and out of the water, and move through it with ease.
“Water comes off the angles here, through holes and when it kicks it allows you to move forward.”
It is the first amphibious prosthetic made with a 3D printer and is the creation of Northwell Health’s Dr. Todd Goldstein.
“This is 3D printed and this is custom to their limb,” Goldstein says.
Kevin is part of a group testing the Fin in a research study aimed at getting FDA clearance.
Kevin’s leg was amputated in 2011 after a roadside bomb severely injured him during his second tour in Afghanistan. The marine spent 15 months recovering at Walter Reed.
“Prior to the service I played lacrosse, football, wrestling. Always swam at the beach, pool. After I got hurt the first thing I wanted to do was just get back to that status again.”
Kevin is active again with the help of various prosthetics. But when it comes to swimming, current waterproof legs have limitations
“It’s just basically attaching a small anchor to your leg. And that’s not gonna be something that is beneficial,” says Todd Goldstein, PhD, Director of 3D Design and Innovation at Northwell Health
The Fin is designed to give swimmers a more natural sensation while swimming and they do not have to switch out prosthetics when getting in and out of water.
Kevin said he is excited about the leg and the fact that it was made with a 3D printer.
“Yeah that just blows my mind. I am mostly excited about being able to swim balanced again, having that feeling of feeling like I have a real leg again.”
Researchers hope to bring the Fin to the market in three to five months.