LeTourneau questions Time's Top 50 list

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - In Time magazine's list of best inventions of 2009, Stanford University is given credit for a design that LeTourneau University researchers said they have been using for years.  They said a prosthetic called the Jaipur knee looks familiar.

"We thought that was our knee. That looks exactly like our M-1 knee. It raised a question. Number one: It's not a new invention. It's not even a new design. So, in a way, we saw this as affirmation of what we'd been doing for over 5 years at LeTourneau University," said Doctor Robert Hudson, vice president of academic affairs.

LeTourneau researchers have been refining and producing the m-1 prosthetic knee, KLTV even traveled with them to Africa in 2005 when they went to fit patients.

We contacted Stanford University, who said the design is absolutely theirs.

"Here's really all I can tell you and it's the following: That we're confident that our design is distinct, but we can't comment in further detail until we know what's being claimed," said David Orenstien of Stanford university's school of engineering.

Both designs have the same height, width, orientation of bolts and both cost around $20.

"How can they identify this as the best invention in the year 2009 when LeTourneau University launched their knee 5 years ago" Hudson said.

LeTorneau has tried to contact Time about the article.

"I sent several e-mails to Time magazine, called Lev Grossman, the one who's been putting this together.  As of this point, I've not heard back from anyone," said LeTourneau University public information officer Janet Ragland.

LeTourneau researchers are upset, because they said Time didn't do better research.

"I think if Time magazine would do a little investigation, they would come to conclude the same thing: That LeTourneau University has been doing this and recognize the value and the credit that they should give LeTourneau University," Hudson said.

For those who have worked on the prosthetic, its frustrating.

"They're hurt because they have put a lot of effort, hundreds of hours in testing and research and development" Hudson said.

Though we made several attempts to talk with representatives of Time, no one was available to comment on the prosthetic knee. According to LeTourneau's web site, the M-1 knee is currently the only locally-produced prosthetic knee available in the developing world that meets ISO standards.

It should not be forgotten that both universities have done outstanding work in the field of prosthetics, providing affordable artificial limbs for those who need them.

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