Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Space-tech At The Paralympics

Date:
September 23, 2004
Source:
European Space Agency
Summary:
At the 2004 Paralympics this week, Wojtek Czyz, the world record holder for long jump, will be trusting in space technology and expertise to help him win his first Olympic medal. For the competition, parts of the prosthesis he will be using are made from material designed for space to make it both stronger and lighter.

Wojtek Czyz with his improved long-jump prosthesis. The prosthesis consists of four pieces. The first is a shaft used to attach the prosthesis to the stump of the leg, the second is the artificial knee, the third is the knee joint element, an L-shaped bracket connecting the artificial knee to the fourth element, a carbon fibre spring that substitutes for the lower part of the leg and the foot. Credits: MST (image) / ESA-Medialab AOES (diagram)

At the 2004 Paralympics this week, Wojtek Czyz, the world record holder for long jump, will be trusting in space technology and expertise to help him win his first Olympic medal. For the competition, parts of the prosthesis he will be using are made from material designed for space to make it both stronger and lighter.

Czyz lost part of his left leg in a sports accident three years ago and in order to continue his passion for “everything that has to do with sport”, this meant that he had to use a prosthesis. “I had a big problem with my old prosthesis as the connecting angle between the knee and the lower-leg spring often broke when I was doing long jump," he explains. Not only was this a practical problem, even more important it created a psychological barrier. “When I exercised I was always worried that my artificial leg wouldn’t hold, and I never knew how far I could push myself and the prosthesis when jumping."

Space materials to the rescue Most disabled people have to rely on ‘standard’ prostheses for everyday use and there is a very limited market for custom-made components for sports activities. The standard prostheses used by athletes could be better optimised for weight reduction and designed for the load conditions encountered in competitive sports.

ESA's Technology Transfer and Promotion Office, together with MST Aerospace, the German technology transfer broker managing ESA’s Technology Transfer Network, became aware of the athlete’s problem through reports on German TV and in the press. Following contacts with Czyz to identify his most crucial technological needs ESA and MST agreed to look into the problem.

"The objective," says Pierre Brisson, Head of ESA’s Technology Transfer and Promotion Office "was to find solutions based on space technologies for disabled people to help them participate in sports at competitive levels as well as enjoy a better quality of life."

Together with Wojtek Czyz three areas that needed improving were identified: the artificial limb itself, the fit and training conditions.

Biomedical procedures determined which parts of the prostheses could be improved for running and jumping and it became clear that the major problem was the knee joint element, namely the L-shaped bracket between the artificial knee and the carbon feather, which replaces the lower leg.

On behalf of ESA, MST contacted ISATEC, a German company with experience in the use of high-performance materials in space projects, such as high-strength aluminium alloys, titanium and carbon-fibre-reinforced-plastics (CFRP). This company designs and analyses structures in CFRP used for rocket motors and the Alpha Magnet Spectrometer (AMS) experiment on the International Space Station (ISS). AMS is a detector designed for extraterrestrial study of antimatter, matter and missing matter. Using the same techniques and expertise, ISATEC analysed and optimised the L-shape bracket to improve the artificial limb for use in competitive sports.

"Detailed analysis suggested different solutions for different sports, each optimised for a specific use," explains Johannes Schmidt, Project Manager at MST. "For sprinting a bracket manufactured from a high-strength aluminium alloy was developed, the material used by ESA in its AMS experiment."

"For long jumping the situation is different and a composite bracket was made out of carbon fibre and fabric layers," continues Johannes Schmidt. "After feedback from the athlete the first version was altered and a softer second version constructed."

The layer-by-layer stress analysis carried out on more than 40 unidirectional and fabric plies was particularly important as it ensured that the material selected for the bracket was strong enough to support the extra load during long jump. The new more stiff and resistant L-shape bracket is both lighter and stronger, providing athletes with greater security while exercising.

"Only many years of work using and optimising these special materials for use in space made it possible to produce the high performing brackets for Czyz's prosthesis," says Schmidt.

Training Czyz also told MST that he always had problems fitting the prosthesis to his leg. "Depending on my general health, the size of my stump can widen or narrow; making it difficult to attach the prosthesis securely. It has even fallen off during some training sessions."

After discussion with the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) and the European Healthcare Network, created by ESA to develop, promote and commercialise solutions for healthcare and wellbeing derived from space research and development, the ESA Healthcare Network’s Manager, Filippo Ongaro, suggested using the Percutaneous Electrical Muscle Stimulator (PEMS) to prevent further muscle atrophy and increase muscle mass.

PEMS was developed and manufactured by the Swiss company Syderal to prevent the effects of microgravity on astronauts particularly muscle atrophy and accompanying effects like bone mineralization and cardiovascular de-conditioning. In 1996 PEMS I flew on the Space Shuttle and PEMS II is planned to be delivered to the ISS next May.

In June this year ESA’s Human Spaceflight Directorate provided the PEMS II training device and it was installed at the German Sports University in Cologne (DSHS) to help Czyz increase his muscle mass and reduce atrophy in the leg. The training was guided by Professor Narici of the University of Manchester who already performed intensive research with PEMS I and II, Dr Zange of the Institute of Aerospace Medicine at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) supported by Dr Schneider and Dr Abel from the Institute of Motor Control and Movement Technique at DSHS, and Prof Maffulli from Keele University School of Medicine. DLR also made available test facilities in Köln Porz.

"I was able to train for 10 weeks with PEMS. This improved the muscle mass of my leg so that I no longer have problems fitting my prosthesis. Even when I am not well, the muscle mass of my leg remains the same," says Czyz.

For training purposes the athlete wore a training suit developed by the Italian company Grado Zero Espace. The fabric consists of a shape memory membrane based on a polymer used in space applications for collapsible wheels on planetary rovers as well as for deployable space structures.

Czyz is also hoping for medals in the 100 m and 200 m sprint but his main love is the long jump. "Taking part in the Olympics will be nerve-wracking as it is not the same as jumping at home. In 2003 I beat the world record with a 5.85 metre jump and with the redesigned parts in the prosthesis my jumps have increased by 20 cm. Hopefully I can make a new Olympic record in Athens by passing 6 m."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Space Agency. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Space Agency. "Space-tech At The Paralympics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 September 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922073641.htm>.
European Space Agency. (2004, September 23). Space-tech At The Paralympics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922073641.htm
European Space Agency. "Space-tech At The Paralympics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040922073641.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Why Did Nike Fire Most Of Its Nike FuelBand Team?

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) — Nike fired most of its Digital Sport hardware team, the group behind Nike's FuelBand device. Could Apple or an overcrowded market be behind layoffs? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) — An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) — It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins