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introduced in 2012. Need can truly be the mother of invention! Inspiration comes from many directions. Robert Gabourie is a well-known prosthetist from Canada. Rob developed and patented a swimming prosthetic device back in the 1980s. He shared the concept with us, and after we took a hard look at it, we realized that it was more complex than it needed to be. We redesigned his four-fingered model with overlapping fins into a simple butterfly wing model that allows for one model that can be easily modified to match different hand sizes. Thus, the Freestyle Swimming TD was born and has provided truly bilateral swimming performance to hundreds of hand-absent swimmers for more than 25 years. Thanks, Rob, for your inventiveness! Hockey, bicycling, archery, gymnastics, yoga, rock climbing and weightlifting are all now within your “grasp.” Mike Hummel called me in the early 2000s. He was a pro bodybuilder, a specialist in bench pressing. He had been in an automobile accident that resulted in the loss of his left hand. He was trying to get back into competition but could not get the stability he needed for bench pressing using one of our rugged, stainless, GRIP 2


Amp it up! magazine  MARCH 2013

prehensors. He asked for our help in trying to modify the prosthesis to improve his capability. His request spurred us to think in-depth about the challenge, especially when he informed me that his goal was to bench press more than 500 pounds. I didn’t know that such feats were possible for even two-handed competitors, but I was corrected and the goal was identified. The Black Iron Master device that we developed allowed Mike to win the world championship in bench pressing in his weight class. Against two-handed competitors, he pressed over 650 pounds. Simply amazing! Congratulations, Mike, on your perseverance and success and for inspiring the design of some high-performance weightlifting/training prostheses. I played a lot of baseball as a kid and young adult. I was small-framed but had a strong arm. I played center field and could throw a baseball all the way into home plate from deep centerfield. I played in Little League, made the All Stars, and even went into a World Series tournament one year in my youth. Although we lost, the experience was burned into my soul. Then, at age 22, I was in a car accident that resulted in the amputation of my left hand. I was a southpaw so in an instant my

throwing ability evaporated. Fortunately, I was somewhat ambidextrous so my rehabilitation was easier. I wrote and did a number of other things right-handed, but I threw left-handed and kicked primarily left-footed. That was in 1971. I never regained my ability to throw a ball as well right-handed as I did lefthanded. I don’t know why. It just never clicked for me. But once I met Hector Picard, the amputee who was responsible for the idea for the HOOPSTER, I was inspired. The clever design for the HOOPSTER suddenly made me think about baseball again. I had concluded that I would never be able to throw a baseball lefty again, but I was wrong! The HOOPSTER concept spurred my imagination about the highperformance polymers that we were using in some of our other prosthetic designs. If a basketball could be handled with just a prosthesis, why couldn’t a baseball? In early spring 2012, we set upon some new ideas. We quickly crafted some “proof-of” prototype models and realized that throwing a baseball might be possible. A lot of iterations later, I was amazed to experience the thrill of throwing a baseball again, instinctively and accurately. After 40 years, I was throwing a baseball

Amp It Up! Vol. 2 Issue 2  
Amp It Up! Vol. 2 Issue 2  

The Health & Lifestyle Magazine for Amputees Who Want to Live More Fully