At the 2004 Paralympics this week, Wojtek Czyz, the world record holder for long jump, will be trusting in space technology and expertise to help him win his first Olympic medal. For the competition, parts of the prosthesis he will be using are made from material designed for space to make it both stronger and lighter.
Czyz lost part of his left leg in a sports accident three years ago and in order to continue his passion for “everything that has to do with sport”, this meant that he had to use a prosthesis. “I had a big problem with my old prosthesis as the connecting angle between the knee and the lower-leg spring often broke when I was doing long jump," he explains. Not only was this a practical problem, even more important it created a psychological barrier. “When I exercised I was always worried that my artificial leg wouldn’t hold, and I never knew how far I could push myself and the prosthesis when jumping."
Most disabled people have to rely on ‘standard’ prostheses for everyday use and there is a very limited market for custom-made components for sports activities. The standard prostheses used by athletes could be better optimised for weight reduction and designed for the load conditions encountered in competitive sports.
Fritz Gampe | EurekAlert!
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