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Double amputee from COVID-19 complications relearns skills with a Power Knee

Ben Cromwell was hospitalized with COVID when blood clots forced his legs to be amputated. As he learns life on prosthetics, he's getting a help with a power knee.

FORT WORTH, Texas — The last two years have been the most challenging years of Ben Cromwell's life. In July 2020, he was hospitalized with COVID-19.

"I had severe clotting from COVID," said Cromwell. "It was resistant to medicine, and it took them 11 surgeries to try to save my legs, and they ended up having to amputate both legs in order to save me."

He was amputated below the knee on his right leg and above the knee on his left leg. He remembers the pain. 

"At a certain point, I was in so much pain that I was asking them to take my legs."

With two prosthetics after surgery, Cromwell knew he needed to learn how to move again. He set goals for himself. 

Basic movements like standing up, walking or climbing stairs were no longer simple for him.

Cromwell's physical therapist, Shannon O'Neal with Fort Worth Physical Therapy, has watched him struggle and grow. She said the last few months, he's accomplished a lot with the help of a new Power Knee.

"This is a total game changer," said O'Neal. "The Power Knee gives some energy back to him."

Cromwell received Ossur's new motor-powered bionic prosthetic knee, which recently launched in the United States. It's designed for above-the-knee limb loss patients, and has advanced algorithms to detect movement and patterns. The Power Knee can adjust to the patient's speed and cadence.

"I've never gotten up the stairs with the other knee," said Cromwell, referring to his previous microprocessor knee. 

He's excited for this new technology. "There's been several times that I've stumbled and it stopped me from falling." Cromwell hopes the Power Knee will take pressure off his right knee and prevent future knee replacement surgeries.

Cromwell was introduced to Ossur's Power Knee by Cody Longenbaugh, a Certified Orthotics and Prosthetics Assistant at Baker Orthotics and Prosthetics in Fort Worth.

Longenbaugh, also an amputee, was the first non-military person in the United States to be fitted with a Power Knee. 

"Once I wore this, I knew I had something that needed to be shared with the world," said Longenbaugh.

Even though their stories of limb loss are different, they both have the drive to keep moving, and are seeing major benefits from the Power Knee.

"I want to be able to be that person that's helping, and the only way I'm able to do that is to get on my feet and get going," Cromwell said. 

With the Power Knee, there's still a learning curve, and it will continue to take practice and daily physical therapy. But it gives Cromwell a new sense of hope. 

"When you see something that gives you hope to be able to resume your regular life, that's pretty exciting."