It’s often hard to image life any different or more difficult than it already is. However, those who have lost a limb are facing challenges every day. With the loss of just one leg, the once simple task of walking across the street is now strenuous and much slower. Some think the possibility of riding a bike with out a leg , just isn’t in their future. But if we know one thing about humans, we are likely to overcome any obstacle that is in our way. If determined enough, and with the help of new prosthetic engineering; people who have lost limbs are now able to walk, ride a bicycle, and even compete in cycling races around the world.
Riding with Prosthetics
Riding with a prosthetic leg may be a challenging task, but without this great invention one might not be able to ride at all. The story of competitive cyclist, and amputee Gerard Cushan, allows some insight to just how difficult it can be for cyclists who still want to ride. Gerard’s right leg was amputated just below the knee as a child so he has been able to learn how to function using different types of prosthetics from a very young age. Unfortunately, the only cycling prosthesis available on the market that allowed him to ride and compete were flawed in consideration to cyclists, causing him discomfort and pain while he rode.
He decided a better solution was required. Fusion Peak was able to rise to the task and create a custom prosthesis that was ergonomic and individually tailored to the cyclists needs and stature. This allowed Gerard to cycle more naturally, improving his comfort and performance. The designer’s skills, the understanding of bio-mechanics and cycling position, plus the ability to develop and build a working prototype; soon led to a completely new and totally custom prosthesis for Gerard. Gerard’s cycling prosthesis at the time was a simple carbon fiber post with a Shimano SPD-SL cleat attached to the bottom. This previous prosthetic caused stress on his body while riding due to the fore and aft cleat positions being different from foot to prosthesis, subsequently causing a rotation in his pelvis. Gerard’s left leg worked well but the right leg and the prosthesis equated to instability in his position and an inability to stand and sprint fluently. With this new prosthetic, Gerard was able to ride more comfortably than he had ever imagined.
Another option for those who may be missing limbs is a custom bike that allows the rider to do what they cycle in comfort. The amazing story of Michael Trimble, a 27-year-old from Pittsburgh who was born without arms created national interest after he did not let his disability slow him down. Over they years, Trimble was able to develop dexterity with his feet and legs but the thought of riding a bike seemed impossible. With the help of his high school’s gym teacher, Michael was able to create a custom bike with modified handlebars that allow him to ride and steer comfortably. Unfortunately, this bike didn’t last long and Michael moved onto college, with his desire to cycle still strong. After multiple attempts at contacting bike manufacturers to build him a custom bike, he was turned down over and over for fear of liability. Finally, a local bike builder took on the challenge. Today, Michael is able to ride his custom bike and is a great example of overcoming all odds.
Human engineering is quite amazing and these people who might be thought of as having a disability are by no means disabled due to determination and the help of those around them.
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Image courtest of Wikimedia