Former elite swimmer to be fitted with special robotic prosthetic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

BOSTON (WHDH) — A patient at Brigham and Women’s Hospital has undergone an experimental amputation surgery that doctors and researchers hope will result in her being fitted with a special leg prosthetic that she will be able to control with her mind.

Morgan Stickney, 20, is a former elite high school swimmer. She was ranked in the top 10 in the country and was number one in New England for a time when she was younger. A bad injury to her foot ended her career.

“It never healed. We had a surgery, pain still stayed,” said Stickney.

Stickney said she was in constant pain and medication did not help. Many doctors told her that her only other option was amputation and Stickney went through with the surgery. She is now part of a research trial that involves a novel amputation procedure and a new prosthetic.

Dr. Matthew Carty is working with MIT’s Media Lab to create experimental robotic prosthetics. Stickney is the ninth patient to take part in the trial and the goal is for her to be able to operate the leg with her brain.

“As of right now, there’s no guarantee. You get to go to MIT and you put on a leg and you get to move your ankle like you have your own ankle,” said Stickney.

Stickney, a college sophomore studying pre-med, said she is also ready to swim again. She is scheduled to take part in a paralympic qualifying swim meet and hopes to one day run the Boston Marathon with her robotic prosthetic.

Funding for this research comes from several sources, including The Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center- in honor of the young woman who was injured during the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing.

For more information on Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, click here.

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