Advancement of prosthetic technology in Paralympicst sport
Written by: Mohamad Aqeel Shamsul Anuar
Table of content
2. Advantage and disadvantage with the technology advancement
4. Ethical Issue
5. Experimental technique
1. Introduction The history of Paralympics sport dated back to 1948 where neurologist Professor Sir Ludwig Guttmann organised a sport event for the Stoke Mandeville’s patients (Lauren, 2012). This was part of his rehabilitation therapy to introduce confidence into the paraplegic, which primarily consist of war veterans. Since then Paralympics sport has grown into the second largest sporting event behind the Olympic games. With over 70 decades of progression, Paralympics greatly influenced the technology used by people with disability. Few examples can be shown with the application of specialised wheelchair and prosthetics blade in the recent London Paralympics 2012. Prosthetic is a significant piece of equipment for people with disability, it allows them to perform their daily tasks and interact with others. Advanced prosthetic technologies are currently being used by a large number of athletes. One of the most common artificial limbs is the carbon fibre prosthesis. The aim behind the development of carbon fibre prostheses is to increase movement efficiency by decreasing the drawback of a prosthetic foot (Nolan, 2008). Prosthetic limbs are generally built with two members of carbon fibre that are lightweight, strong and flexible (Nolan, 2008).
Breakthrough in prosthetic technology permitted athlete such as Oscar Pictorious to achieve higher performance level on the track. Oscar who is a double world record holder in amputee used the flex-foot Cheetah prosthetic leg designed by the Icelandic company, Össur to compete in the Paralympics 2008 (Eveleth, 2012). Figure 1. The flex foot (Össur, n.d. cited in Nolan, ibid) This specialised prosthetic leg consists of three major components, which are the pylon, the socket and a suspension system. Pylon is the core metal rode that provide support for the user. It is made from carbon fibre to provide strength whilst being lightweight. The socket is a different device that connects the prosthetic leg to the residual limb. It is important that the socket is precisely fit to the limb, as it would transmit reaction forces to the patient’s body and could cause harm. Another key component is the suspension system. It is particularly installed to keep the limb attached to the prosthesis. Several different methods are currently being used for the suspension system. It is seem that most patients opt for the suction method as it provides an airtight seal between the prosthetic and the residual limb (Clements, 2008).
Figure 2. Flex-foot cheetah (Dezeen, 2012)
2. Advantage and disadvantage with the technological advancement
One clear advantage with prosthetic limb is the ability to provide amputee with the freedom of movement. Without the advancement of prosthetic technology, amputee would struggle to carry out their daily activities such as going to work and simpler task for example going up the stairs. The most important benefit of mobility is it allows users to regain their confidence and interact with society especially for war veteran and patients who were involved in a calamity. This was also part of Professor Ludwig Guttmann’s vision that led to the creation of Paralympics games (Lauren, ibid). It is evident that sporting events benefits the most with the advance in prosthetic technology. Prostheses are design to imitate the human foot. For instance, the flex-foot cheetah has a carbon fibre limb that acts similarly