Every step for Bruce Lapine is easier than the last. He's learning to walk again on his new prosthesis.
"It's independence," he said.
Lapine's left leg was amputated six years ago due to health complications from smoking. He's waited a year for this moment.
"This is a lifetime relationship," said Deborah Wilde of Bio-Medic Appliances. "The way the prosthesis fits over will change over time."
He rolled into Bio-Medic in a wheelchair, and will walk out of this facility that makes custom prosthetic devices.
"It's a little discouraging at first. You can't just put this on and walk, you have to build up the strength in your stump," Lapine said.
Getting a prosthetic limb is now a reality for some people injured in the Boston Marathon bombings.
"We rarely see these explosions with fragments. It's a common injury in the military environment," said Dr. John Fortune, the trauma medical director at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.
Fortune has gone to Germany to treat bomb injuries from wounded warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says severe tissue loss can lead to amputation, but doctors do everything possible to avoid amputation, including always getting a second opinion. Fletcher Allen does less than five emergency traumatic amputations a year.
"It's not a simple amputation through clean tissue, this is a devastating injury with lots of injuries near the amputation site," Fortune said.
Amputation surgery has not changed much over the years, but the use of tourniquets has. Once discouraged because slowing the blood flow was thought to worsen injuries, tourniquets are now favored to treat life-threatening wounds after the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Doctors say it buys time and does not do further damage.
Reporter Gina Bullard: Is it a difficult recovery process?
Eric Darling/Fletcher Allen physical therapist: It is, it's quite long. People will go through several weeks of preprosthetic training before they even consider getting a new prosthetic leg.
Balance, strength and conditioning are vital for people to get back to a productive lifestyle. Prosthetic technology has advanced significantly over the past decade, from a simple joint to computerized bionic knees and ankles.
"The technology has reached a level where we can restore function to a very high level," Wilde said.
And for people like Lapine, he says leaving this appointment on his own two feet is the best news he could ask for.
Doctors say that recovery can be quicker for people who have traumatic amputations rather than amputations due to vascular or diabetic complications, because patients usually have fewer medical issues.
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:49 PM EST2014-03-09 02:49:49 GMT
The Burlington Yoga Conference began Saturday at UVM's Davis Center. The event gives participants a chance to connect the mind body and soul through workshops they may not have access to on a daily basis.More >>
The Burlington Yoga Conference began 6 years ago and has become a staple in the community.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:29 PM EST2014-03-09 02:29:17 GMT
A warning for pet owners in our region. Coyotes are on the prowl. A biologist in New Hampshire says he has received more than 10 calls recently, in the Keene, New Hampshire area, for a deer that was takenMore >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 9:21 PM EST2014-03-09 02:21:44 GMT
As spring approaches, many Vermont homeowners prepare to work on their houses - so they head to the Burlington Home Show. And many Vermont small business owners - with their products and services on displayMore >>
Many business owners at the Burlington Home Show say the new health care system in Vermont is helpful, but some say it's causing a real headache.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 8:07 PM EST2014-03-09 01:07:08 GMT
A rally at the State House in Montpelier Saturday. A passionate group of dozens of women, and men, assembled in front of the State House Saturday for the Women's March for Dignity. They were demandingMore >>
Women's March for Dignity say they are demanding lawmakers support paid sick day policies for all workers.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:21 AM EST2014-03-08 15:21:27 GMT
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries. They were injured while fighting a at the Bennett Farm on Route 15 on the Johnson-Cambridge town line. The fire started in a shed around 7:30 FridayMore >>
Two firefighters are recovering from minor injuries.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:42 GMT
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury. They immediately took to Facebook after hearing about this fire and started planning to collectMore >>
Friends are rallying around families who lost everything in an apartment building fire in St. Johnsbury.More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:20 AM EST2014-03-08 15:20:05 GMT
Reporter: "What are some of the most common burn injuries that we see with kids coming into the hospital?" Jim Esdon, Dartmouth Hitchcock Injury Prevention Center: "This time of year, the glass frontedMore >>
We've had another cold week that's left homeowners cranking the heat. But what does that mean for kids' safety?More >>
Saturday, March 8 2014 10:19 AM EST2014-03-08 15:19:21 GMT
Armed with just two L rods, 87-year-old John Wayne Blassingame starts looking for water by asking yes or no questions. "Does it go past 20 feet, does it go past 30 feet, yah," he says. The rods crossingMore >>
A national organization based in Danville says it is providing resources to people in desperate need to find water.More >>