Many of the 25.8 million Americans who suffer from diabetes experience severe health problems that prevent them from working. New technologies may signal changes for those diabetics who receive Social Security Disability payments. Recent scientific advances could help people get back on their feet and back to work.

The inspiring story of one Carrollton, Georgia, man provides a great example of personal tenacity and determination in the face of diabetes and its associated illnesses. The man lost his sight, his fingertips and both legs from the knee down. He was on dialysis because of kidney failure, but he never gave up on completing his life goals. He recently earned a degree in communications, and he looks forward to getting a job and getting off disability payments.

The man recently was fitted with a new generation of prosthetic feet, one of the first double amputees to benefit from this advance. The new feet are a vast improvement over his old prosthetics, the man said, which often caused him to stumble and lose his balance. A crack in the sidewalk could have proved harmful for the man when he was using his old prosthetics, he said.

This new generation of prosthetic legs contains a microprocessor in the ankle joint, which allows the legs to adjust to terrain changes. The processors send signals to the carbon feet, which adjusts them based on the surface, preventing the man from falling. His new feet are faster, lighter and more responsive than the others, he says.

New feet have given the man new determination and desire to enjoy life, he says. He goes to the movies now, walks in the grass and climbs hills with more ease. The man says that he has been strong enough to overcome his physical losses so far, and he is excited to see where his new feet — and positive attitude — will take him in the future.

Source: 11Alive, “Georgia man standing tall on the newest bionic feet,” Jerry Carnes, March 14, 2012.