Prosthetics supplier Ottobock has had some of its specialist equipment, due to be used in the 2018 Winter Paralympics, showcased in a BBC technology programme.
Joining forces with prosthetics experts at Dorset Orthopaedic, the company featured on BBC Click where reporter and double below-knee amputee Kathleen Hawkins had the chance to try out the ski and snowboarding prosthesis, the Ottobock ProCarve.
The programme follows Hawkins during a fitting with Dorset Orthopaedic Clinic prosthetist Kevin Shaw, who explained the features of the ProCarve for snowboarders.
Hawkins was then joined by Ottobock head of prosthetics, Emma Gillespie, to use the ProCarves on the slopes.
The ProCarve can fit into a snowboarding boot, and has a pneumatic spring and a large, air-filled cylinder at the ankle joint that act as a shock absorber. This increases the rider’s comfort and also contributes to a better body position whilst boarding. The air pressure inside the cylinder can be tailored to suit the individual’s riding style and type of terrain.
Hawkins said of the experience: “Getting to try out the ProCarve feet for BBC Click was such a fun and interesting experience. I’ve snowboarded (badly) in the past and it was great to feel a different sensation on the snow and think about the independence these feet could give to amputees wanting to get on the slopes with confidence. It’s the best aspect of technology for me. Now I just need to save my pennies.”
Meanwhile, Shaw said that he hopes the programme will give people some insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes to help para-athletes perform.
Gillespie added: “This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the kind of product that can help someone achieve their dreams, whether that’s to be a Paralympian or just get out on the slopes for a few hours. This is exactly why Ottobock are constantly investing in research and development, to be at the cutting edge of prosthetic technology used for sports and everyday life.”
In addition to creating specialist winter sports prostheses such as the ProCarve, Ottobock is the Official Prosthetic, Orthotic and Wheelchair Technical Service Provider for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
These Paralympic Winter Games will be the biggest to date, with 80 medal events in six sports: Para alpine skiing, Para biathlon, Para cross-country skiing, Ice sledge hockey, Para snowboard and Wheelchair curling. With 670 athletes from 42 nations expected to compete, Ottobock technicians will be busy repairing wheelchairs, sit-skis, and any other equipment.