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SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- At Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), patients who once had to endure extreme lower leg pain and an inability to walk are now up, running and even returning to active duty status, thanks to the new Intrepid Dynamic Exoskeletal Orthosis, or IDEO™.

Originally invented by Ryan Blanck at Brooke Army Medical Center's Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, the IDEO™ has just recently made its way to the West Coast. The IDEO™ is a customizable, hand fabricated device that stores energy in carbon fiber rods to remove painful pressures and forces on a patient's ankle and foot.

Lt. Cmdr. (Dr.) Robert G. Sheu, assigned to NMCSD Pain Management Clinic, describes the IDEO™ as, simple in design, yet advanced in its capabilities. Sheu works with service members who experience severe pain from their combat injuries, training injuries or even from vehicular accidents. Some patients may be contemplating elective amputation, but Sheu says the brace may offer a better alternative.

"My first thought after my accident was that I might lose my leg," said Machinist's Mate First Class Ferdinand L. Macapagal, assigned to Naval Base Point Loma. "But my doctors gave me hope when they told me about the IDEO™."

Macapagal, who shattered his ankle in a car accident back in January of this year, has made it his goal to get back to 100 percent. To do that, his healing process has been similar to that of many IDEO™ patients.

First, a patient screening determines if they are a good candidate for the brace and for the subsequent rehabilitation program. If the patient passes the initial screening, the fabricators in the NMCSD Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care (C5) department fit and construct a personalized orthotic.

Next, tests like the gait lab analysis are conducted to study the patient's movements and mechanics. Additionally, the patient will be placed into a specialized rehabilitation program. At NMCSD, the Return to Run rehab and training program takes wounded warriors through a 4-6 week program designed to achieve exactly what the name implies.

"I went from not being able to walk to being able to jump, run and even hike," said Macapagal. "Now, I can't wait to get back to the fleet."

The addition of the IDEO™ to NMCSD has benefited the patient care experience. In the past patients would need to head to Brooke Army Medical Center Fort Sam Houston, Texas and the Center for the Intrepid to be fitted by Intrepid fabricators and attend their Return to Run program. However, NMCSD sent a team to Texas to learn and bring back their techniques, and is now capable of addressing and healing patients in San Diego, from start to finish.

To date, Sheu and the NMCSD team have equipped more than 40 active duty and recently retired Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines with the IDEO™. Some patients have even been found fit to return to active duty service. Currently the IDEO™ is only being offered for military personnel.

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