Stewart was the first recipient of Herr's rather bionic lower leg, which uses a combination of subtle mechanics and delicate robotics to better recreate human muscles and bones. Stewart, who previously had a decent but limited prosthetic, is astounded at the difference. He had part of his lower left leg blown off when he stepped on a landmine. Now, he's excited about the future possibilities, which include reduced lower back pain, something many amputee wearers suffer. And Stewart should know about fatigue since this is a guy who still practices jujitsu. (Seriously.)
But Herr isn't satisfied. He doesn't see prosthetic limbs as a replacement. In fact,quite the opposite. He sees them as an opportunity to improve on the "imperfect" design of the human body. With wireless sensors and software, Herr pushes his prosthetics to adapt to irregular terrain or faster movement. Eventually leaping higher or running faster. Forget about being disadvantaged. He believes people (be them military or other) who wear prosthetics will one day have an advantage over those who don't wear them.
We'll introduce you to both Stewart and Herr on tonight's Evening New with Katie Couric, and I hope you'll watch. It's a special story of science meets human perseverance. As Herr says, it's just the first step. But, boy, is it a big one.