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Seattle firefighter who lost toes in accident back on job thanks to an amazing technology

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GIG HARBOR, Wash. — In July 2013, Seattle firefighter Matt Runte was riding his motorcycle when a car ran a red light and T-boned him.

The accident severely injured his foot, to the point he had to have two toes amputated.

“My motorcycle boot was blown out at the forefoot because it had been crushed,” Runte said Wednesday.

Matt is an avid runner and, with this injury, he faced the prospect of never being able to run again or fight fires.  However, Matt never gave up hope and while in the hospital, he learned of a technology that might solve a lot of his problems.

His wife researched a device called an intrepid dynamic exoskeletal orthosis or IDEO.

It’s a device that is essentially a brace that is custom fit to Matt.  It simply acts as a support for damaged muscles and tendons, allowing the patient to use their leg as if it weren’t injured.

The groundbreaking technology was invented by Ryan Blanck, the IDEO program director at Hanger Clinic.  He developed it about five years ago to help wounded veterans.

"People who are going back to combat and kicking down doors again with a device, where they would normally have an amputation, and they're back jumping out of helicopters, climbing mountains in Afghanistan," Blanck said.

He has now brought the technology to the civilian world and over the past five years, he has helped around 700 people get back on their feet, including Runte.

He can now walk normally and is even back to running and firefighting.

"I hope that awareness is increased and people know that this high function is there and you can do everything you want to do," Runte said.

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