Over the past twenty years, with the rapid development of new plastics and metal alloys, such as co-polymer, titanium, etc., there has been a significant effort to make lighter and stronger products in all aspects of manufacturing. The use of these lighter materials in almost all of today’s products, such as automobiles, planes, etc., has resulted in numerous benefits, and these benefits usually are had because of one reason; Energy Efficiency. Our automobiles can travel further, our planes fly faster, even lighter running shoes enable us to run further, because less energy is needed to move them. These results are achievable in lightweight products because they are energy efficient.
The use of these materials and ongoing efforts to make artificial limbs and braces lighter is of great benefit to those of us needing to wear such appliances. In my particular case over the years, these newer materials have allowed me to be more active even as I aged from a new amputee at nineteen to my present age of fifty-six. A lighter weight prosthesis has also greatly reduced sores and abrasions that were more frequent with my earlier heavier prostheses due in a large part to the elimination of slippage (pistoning). The way I walk with the lighter prosthesis has also improved dramatically. With the lighter artificial limb I don’t have to depend on gravity and a pendulum effect to advance the prosthesis. The lighter limb makes it possible for me to lift my leg, swing and push with almost instant response and place the prosthesis into the next step. This action is more like the way my own leg functions in taking a step.
The question arises would 2 or 3 pounds really make a difference in my life as a prosthetic wearer? In our opinion the answer would be a resounding yes.
The question arises would 2 or 3 pounds really make a difference in my life as a prosthetic wearer? In our opinion the answer would be a resounding yes. Not only is the reduction of weight so important but where the weight is also plays a significant role. To help illustrate this point, consider this example. Suppose we ask you to hold a sledge hammer out to the side. If you attempt to hold it with the iron weight furthest out, the leverage makes it very difficult to manage. Now suppose we swing the hammer around with the weight in your palm, it is more manageable. You would probably swear it was lighter yet it is the same weight. Now consider a prosthesis, with all the weight at or about the foot and ankle, it is at the worst possible position. Through the utilization of the lightpro system we are not only able to redistribute the weight to more manageable areas but are also able to reduce the overall weight at the same time. This 40-60% reduction in weight has been realized without compromising the integrity of the device, in fact we believe that these materials have actually made the prosthesis even stronger.
The positive effect that a lighter prosthesis has had in my life has been duplicated across the board by thousands of prosthetic wearers we have fit with the Light Pro system.
As a prosthetist for over forty years, I was more often than not asked if I could make a prosthesis lighter and can remember no single instance when we were asked to make a prosthesis heavier.
Vernon R. Rothschild