'Bionic' prosthetic leg helps farmer amputee keep up with work

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New technology is helping a farmer in Iowa - not with his fields, but with getting around. (WPVI)

New technology is helping a farmer in Iowa - not with his fields, but with getting around.

"The leg is actually controlled by my cell phone. I get a text message when my battery is low, or if I need the quiet mode, or I can add more power to it if I am doing something that I need a boost to," says Jason Schroeder.

Schroeder says life has been different for the last six months since he began testing the bionic ankle, which has a powered step.

"He's extremely active so he's wonderful to get to test out things on because I know he'll give me his honest opinion on it," says Theresa Bonnema of the Hanger Prosthetic Clinic in Iowa City.

Schroeder lost his own leg below the knee in an industrial accident, 10 years ago.

He's had other prosthetics, but they didn't have the power and adaptability this one does.

Schroeder uses his phone to amp up the leg when he needs more help doing things like lifting sheets of drywall, working on the farm, or carrying in groceries.

"The motor and the foot basically replaces the calf-muscle," he says. "You go home less tired, you go home less frumpy or grumpy because your limb hurts."

Bonnema says after the recent wars, there's a big demand for sleeker, more functional prosthetics.

"More and more devices are getting computer control added to them, and as all of our computers now-a-days, they're getting smaller, faster, lighter."

The bionic ankle is being tested, in hopes that Medicare, Medicaid and insurance companies will see their value and pay for them.

Right now, the $70,000 cost is largely considered experimental, and not covered.

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