2017 Winner: Matthew J. Carty, MD
Director, Strategy and Innovation, Stepping Strong Center
Director, Lower Limb Extremity Transplant Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School
Hugh Herr, PhD
Director, Center for Extreme Bionics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Ewing Amputation
In 2014, Matthew J. Carty, MD, won the inaugural Stepping Strong Innovator Award for revolutionizing lower extremity amputations. Just two years later, he performed a first-of-its-kind experimental amputation procedure that represented the first clinical translation of his work, leading to a $3 million grant from the Department of Defense. In what has been coined the Ewing Amputation, Carty and his team connect the leg’s front and back muscles to each other in a loop, allowing them to continue working together and communicate with the brain despite the amputation. Hugh Herr, PhD, from the Center for Extreme Bionics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who himself lost both legs below the knee in 1982, collaborated with Carty to develop this procedure and designed a robotic prosthesis capable of acting like a natural limb. Carty and his team have performed the procedure on six patients, including Army veteran Brandon Korona, whose leg was severely damaged by an improvised explosive device. With his additional Stepping Strong funding, Carty and his team will continue to enroll additional patients. Through modifications of the technique, they hope to improve the Ewing Amputation and eventually offer a similar procedure retroactively to patients who have already undergone standard amputations, greatly increasing the number of people who can benefit from this innovation.
Matthew J. Carty, MD, is focused on reinventing how lower extremity amputations are performed in order to provide amputees with greater control of prosthetics and restore their limb responsiveness. In collaboration with Hugh Herr, PhD, and with funding from Stepping Strong, Carty’s team has completed multiple studies in animal models and human simulations. In 2016, Carty and colleagues filed for a patent for a series of designs developed to enable the construction of muscle pairings in limb amputations. These designs formed the basis for ongoing work to reinvent the surgical approach used for lower limb amputation at BWH and are informing efforts to develop the next generation of lower extremity prostheses at MIT. Carty and his team have performed a modified amputation procedure in six patients. The pioneering surgery makes it possible for an amputee to use a bionic prosthetic that acts like a natural limb.