Function comes first for unique adaptive sport devices

LAS VEGAS — Prosthetists should consider function above all else in the creation of adaptive sport devices for patients, according to a presenter here at the American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association National Assembly.

“Think function first,” Jeffrey Erenstone, CPO, said as he detailed his method for creating unique adaptive sport devices for athletes with various types of amputations and degrees of disability.

Erenstone has created everything from sitting skis to a figure skating leg to a rock climbing foot, and is currently at work on a an exoskeleton for a bobsledder who also is paraplegic. Part of his creation for this athlete is a rig that he described as “a combination of a ramp and a slingshot.”

Creativity is an important part of the equation because the first prototype is never perfect. Erenstone recommended putting together a rough idea of the device with any materials on hand, and then moving on to a prototype from a 3-D printer. It will take several tries to get things right, he said.

“These things are too complex. You cannot think of everything in advance. You should not even try to think of everything in advance. You should expect to make it and have it not work, and make it again,” Erenstone said.

Similarly, he recommended designing devices in a way that they parts can easily be replaced, as they will break or athletes will want to try to upgrade their devices but it is important to create something that will last through the sports season so that athletes don’t need to make major adjustments while competing.

“During the season, those athletes should not be thinking about their equipment. They should be thinking about eating, sleeping, getting massages and exercising,” Erenstone said. — by Amanda Alexander

For more information:

Erenstone J. The process of developing unique adaptive sport devices; Sept. 4-7, 2014; Las Vegas. Disclosure: Erenstone has no relevant financial disclosures.

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