LeTourneau University is challenging one of
“Best Inventions of 2009” entries in its Nov. 23 issue.
“Top 50 Inventions of 2009”
has given credit to Stanford University for developing a knee that is strikingly similar to
the design of LeTourneau University undergraduate students that has been in production and field
testing for five years.
LeTourneau University’s undergraduate engineering students
have been providing these low-cost prosthetics to amputees in developing countries including Kenya,
Sierra Leone, Bangladesh and Senegal since the project started in 2004.
The program known as
, LeTourneau Engineering Global Solutions, was featured in a Nov. 17, 2006 story by Katie
Mangan in the
Chronicle of Higher Education
and was featured in a front-page story in the
Dallas Morning News
on July 6, 2008, by Pulitzer-prize winning international
correspondent Jim Landers, who traveled to Sierra Leone with videographer Kye R. Lee to cover the
story. In June 2009,
(Orthotics and Prosthetics) Magazine came out with a story on page 11 about Stanford
and LETU stating that both universities had this program.
“Numerous peer-reviewed publications on LEGS at regional academic
conferences, as early as 2005, would make this research hard to miss, either for the Stanford
graduate students or for
TIME magazine,” Gonzalez said.
presented the LEGS research at the 5th WORLD Congress of Biomechanics in Munich, Germany in August
2006, which led to publication in
Journal of Biomechanics, which is the leading biomechanics journal with the highest impact
factor in the field. The LEGS research story was titled: "Development of a low cost, easily
manufactured, prosthetic knee technology with improved functionality outcomes for trans-femoral
amputees in developing nations."
· Also in August
2006, LEGS was presented at the State of the Science Conference for Improved Technology Access for
Landmine Survivors, in Chicago, Ill.
presented the LEGS research at the 12
th World Congress of the International Society for Prosthetics and Orthotics in
Vancouver, Canada, in July 2007.
· Also in 2007,
Gonzalez was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for the LEGS project.
· He has been
the invited keynote speaker at regional and national conferences, including the Accreditation Board
for Engineering and Technology (2007) Annual Meeting in Lake Tahoe, Nev., and at the National
Science Foundation (2008) in Washington, D.C.
When an Internet video surfaced several months ago about
Stanford's knee project
, Dr. Gonzalez e-mailed the faculty member in charge at Stanford to apprise students working
on the project.
“I wanted to make sure they knew about LEGS innovative work and
history,” Gonzalez said. He forwarded the
Dallas Morning News
from July 6, 2008, along with a significant list of academic citations about the
“The Stanford knee is the same height, length, width, thickness
and orientation,” Gonzalez said. “It requires the same number and placement of screws, as well as
the depth of the opening for the pylon to the LEGS knee.”
“We would be remiss if we did not question this recognition
TIME has awarded to Stanford,” said Robert W. Hudson, LETU Executive Vice President for
Academic Affairs. “Our students and faculty have worked too hard for too long to let this go
without a response.”
When asked whether LeTourneau University had patented its design,
Hudson responded, “We are pursuing a patent, now that our design, research and testing has been
accomplished internationally in several countries. Our plan has always been to ease human
suffering around the globe with this prosthetic, not to make money.”
TIME magazine recognizes the global significance of this invention but I’m disappointed
the magazine failed to recognize the prosthetic knee developed at LeTourneau years ago,” said LETU
President Dale A. Lunsford. “I pray all of this attention will educate our world that we can
transform the lives of thousands of amputees in developing countries with this affordable