NMU Students aim to propel paralympian with prosthetic

Students at Northern Michigan University were given a chance to help a Paralympic athlete become more of a threat to her competition.  Prosthetist Lynn Vanwelsenaers from Teter Orthotics and Prosthetics Marquette office helped guide the students with what adaptive equipment they could attach to the prosthetic fitted for Kelly’s limb, that would help her get more power in the kayak.

Paralympic Athlete Kelly Allen was born without her left femur, patella and fibula, along with an underdeveloped hip. Despite the fact that Sprint Kayaking is a sitting sport, using your legs is paramount in helping give leverage and generate power. Without the proper bone structure, Allen will have a tougher time propelling the boat, not only with power, but direction as well. Students from NMU’s Advanced Mechanical Kinesiology class had a plan to fix it.

“The students basically were tasked with coming up with a prosthetic design to help her have better performance in the boat, but to also come up with some assessments to allow us to investigate whether or not this prosthetic actually helps her improve her performance,” said Sarah Clarke, assistant professor in Exercise Science at NMU.

The prosthetic is used to help Allen create more leverage, allowing her to paddle harder on one side than she’s used to. In turn, this will help her paddle in a straight line, and get to her destination faster. Her sport is, after all, a sprint.

“I’ve been actually searching for something like this for a really long time,” said Allen. “A lot of other countries are advanced especially in my sport. For the United States to have an opportunity like this is one that I had to jump on.”

Allen qualified for and eventually raced in the 2016 Paralympic games in Rio. She took eighth in the final, but only saw the finish as motivation to train harder for the upcoming 2020 games in Tokyo. This new attachment will up her game dramatically.

Come and see Teter Orthotics & Prosthetics for all your prosthetic needs.  We’ve been providing expert orthotic and prosthetic services in Michigan since 1955 and have grown to more than 20 locations, including Traverse City, Cadillac, Grand Rapids, Petoskey and visit our new location in St. Joseph opening soon!

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