There's no slowing down Christopher Melendez. A gunner when his Humvee was hit in Sadr City, East Baghdad, "I never lost consciousness. I knew what had happened," he recalls. Now, almost five years after losing his leg in Iraq, he'd still like to go back, but, "I’m not good at riding desks," he says. So, thanks to his own courage and perseverance and the prosthetic technologies VA has made available to him with the guidance of Prosthetics Lab experts, the 23-year old is engaged in the very physical challenges of a grip in the film and video industry.
Grips are technicians who work with the camera department to provide camera support and movement on the set of films, videos and television shows. They work with the director of photography to implement specific lighting specifications on a shoot. On a daily basis focused, Melendez is focused on lighting and rigging, making sure the right shot is captured.
"It’s the blood, sweat and tears of production," he says. "I’d like to get into production." All this means a lot of physical movement. And, Melendez's new prosthetic knee, known as the X2, offers him even more benefits than his previous one, the C-Leg that was already considered an advanced type of microprocessor-controlled prosthetic.
Physical Therapist and Prosthetics Clinical Coordinator Leif Nelson, DPT said the key advantages of the X2 is that it contains an accelerometer and a gyroscope that greatly improve the user's range of motion, allowing its wearer to climb stairs step over step, rather that clumsily maneuvering the entire leg. A second feature is that the X2 allows the Veteran to walk backward. A third benefit is that it can also be programmed with automatic sitting and standing settings.
In addition, the Veteran can choose five additional settings for activities such as playing golf and riding a bike, compared with the older prosthetic that only allowed for one additional automatic setting.
“You can walk with less thinking,” says Dr. Nelson. At this point, Melendez wears the X2 and also uses the more familiar C-Leg as a backup. “Soon he’ll be using the X2 all the time,” says Dr. Nelson.