Improving amputee perf recreation through prost BY BOB RADOCY
’ve had the privilege of being involved in the design end of upper-extremity prosthetics since about 1976 when I first decided to develop a better body-powered prosthesis for myself. That effort resulted in the evolution of high-performance GRIP prehensors and gave rebirth to voluntary-closing system technology in 1980. Additionally, it led to the establishment of my company, TRS Inc. (aka Therapeutic Recreation Systems). I’ll write more about voluntary-opening versus voluntary-closing technology in a future issue of Amp It Up! The first sports device I conceived of was the Super Sport, which was designed to provide two-handed capability in ball sports like soccer, volleyball and basketball. I needed a tough, flexible, synthetic “hand” to throw a soccer ball in from the sidelines, provide protection during falls, and enhance my balance. In 1981 or 1982 when the first Super Sport was developed, the only other manufactured sports devices were the Hosmer Bowling Attachment
Amp it up! magazine MARCH 2013
and Baseball Glove Attachment. Later, we developed the Amp U Pod adaptive device for use in photography. We built it for an amputee friend who had just dropped a very expensive Nikon off a bridge during a photo shoot! I then had the pleasure of working with Tom Willard, a Vietnam veteran who had sacrificed his left hand in service to our country. He had designed and was marketing the Amputee Golf Grip (AGG), the first successfully manufactured prosthetic golf accessory. TRS began to distribute the AGG, and interest in prosthetic accessories for sports and recreation continued to grow. Over the last 30 years, we have tried to keep our vision and direction clear and oriented toward product development to improve competitive bilateral performance. Specifically, we try to develop prosthetic aids and accessories that provide more than just the opportunity to participate in an activity. The technology allows an individual to be truly bilaterally competitive with two-handed peers. This pursuit has
seemed like a worthwhile goal, and it has been achievable. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some excellent single-handed sports folks out there. There are those like Jim Abbott of baseball pitching fame, but that’s not where we wanted to go. My educational background in engineering, biology and physiology and my training as a recreational therapist influenced me to look at more therapeutic approaches to prosthetic design. Being bilateral and bimanual is better for your spine and overall skeletal and musculature health than being purely single-handed. Bilateral challenges might even influence brain stimulation. The reality is that we who are single-handed experience enough overuse syndrome already. Not everyone has a choice, but most people with an upper-extremity absence can choose to function bilaterally with a prosthesis and perform better than they would just using a single hand. For some activities, it is almost necessary to operate bilaterally. Ever try to kayak single-handed?
The Health & Lifestyle Magazine for Amputees Who Want to Live More Fully