Kaysville woman runs for first time thanks to computerized leg

Published: Monday, Nov. 26 2012 11:49 p.m. MST

Kristie Christensen, left, learns how to run with her new high-tech computerized leg with Tyler Hyatt earlier this month.

Mike Anderson, Mike Anderson, Deseret News

LOGAN — Running is something some people do for fun and others avoid. For Kristie Christensen, it's a new and exciting experience.

Christensen had her first running lesson after being fitted for a high-tech computerized leg called the Plié 2.0.

She was born with a right femur that was too short, and she was missing the tibia in her lower leg, which led doctors to amputate it.

Before Christensen could run, she had to learn to walk correctly.

"To be able to walk and not fall is really a big deal," she said.

Christensen used to fall daily with her old prosthesis, but since getting the $20,000 Plié 2.0 two months ago, she hasn't fallen. After she mastered walking, she was ready for the next lesson: running.

"To be honest, I was a little bit scared," she said. "I was like, 'I don't really want to run, but I might as well try it.' "

Christensen's instructor was Tyler Hyatt, who knows what it's like to be an amputee.

"When I was 4, I was run over by a garbage truck, so (I've) pretty much been an amputee since then," Hyatt said. "Growing up, I didn't consider myself much of an amputee. I was very active, played basketball, soccer, ice hockey."

He started working with Freedom Innovations, which created the computerized leg. He was involved in the testing process to make sure it worked and didn't break down. He's had the Plié leg for about three years.

"I'm able to run, and then just after I'm done running three miles, go play basketball, and I'm not tired at the end of the day," Hyatt said. "It just changes the way you live."

He travels the country, teaching amputees how to use their new legs.

"Being able to walk up and down stairs is something that, as an amputee, you always fear about falling," Hyatt said. "And to be able to do that and show them how to do that with confidence, it changes their life."

Christensen was thrilled after running for the first time.

"It was kind of crazy," she said. "But it was good. I did a skip-hop kind of thing before, but now it's getting it to be equal. It's kind of a cool experience to get to run instead of skip-hop."

The change is dramatic, Christensen said, and has opened her future wide open with possibilities.

"Going to play basketball or go for a run with friends, that would be pretty fun," she said.

Christensen is a Utah State University student. With the help of the community, she was able to get the new leg. Meanwhile, she and her friends are still working to create a charity that would help more amputees get advanced legs like the Plié.

Email: manderson@desnews.com

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