A world first. Jack Eyers, role model, walks on the Linx prosthetic leg, the first ever prosthetic limb with integrated computer control of knee and foot, a system in which the parts talk to each other like a human leg.
Jack Eyers’ story is about someone whose dream is something the fashion authorities often dismiss as irrelevant but which each of us can applaud and delight in seeing in action. Jack is a model. He was born with a disorder called proximal femoral focal deficiency (PFFD) that meant sections of his right leg didn’t form properly and eventually at 16 he needed an amputation to enable him to walk effectively. Prosthetic technology helped him achieve the level of fitness he strives for on a daily basis.
A year after his amputation Jack got involved in the Paralympic Association and did some trials and won a scholarship that resulted in his becoming a member of the GB Juniors Basketball Team. The training schedule and seemingly aggressive nature of Wheelchair Basketball required a fitness regime that turned his body from that of a normal fit teenager into that of a honed athlete with a physique that enabled him to spin a wheelchair round the maelstrom of court action with speed, agility and a certain level of fearlessness.
Jack grabbed a number of opportunities to work in the film industry with agencies that promote the use of people with disabilities. This led to a number of gory roles as an injured battle casualty in films like Gladiator and in real life on military training exercises. One highlighted role was being part of the trapeze team in the 2012 Paralympic opening ceremonies. This year he is booked to appear on the cat walk in fashion shows in Milan which start in February, success will mean that Jack is breaking new ground in introducing people with disabilities into an area of life that has always had stringent views on perfection. The fashion industry isn’t particularly forgiving of differences to the ‘body beautiful’ as defined within its own ranks so it is quite some achievement
The nature of Jack’s limb loss, PFFD, means that his right hip joint hasn’t formed properly and this has an impact on his balance and the way he walks. The prosthetic limb he has been using is designed for athletic activities and allows him to train and train others in his job as a personal trainer but it doesn’t give him the type of subtle control required to show fashion off on the catwalk.
The new Linx Limb system monitors his movement and activity constantly and adjusts to every nuance of his gait. When he stands still it locks so that he can relax and conserve energy, even when the knee is bent at a relaxed angle.
The Linx is different to all previous systems because it has a new software called Mi² (Motion integrated intelligence) which monitors software from the sensors throughout the system, this means that the foot and knee are effectively sharing information about the environment Jack is walking in and together they make subtle control adjustments so that he can confidently move around knowing that the limb will be at the right speed and support level at all times. Previous systems shared the power supply between the knee and foot but didn’t actually talk to each other. The Linx, therefore, is a whole new level in lower limb prosthetic technology.