I found this fascinating quote today:

Increased emphasis on public accessibility for disabled people has opened up a whole new world for easier wheelchair travel. From walkways to buildings, people in wheelchairs are experiencing more freedom.travelasiseeit.com, Thoughts For Simpler Wheelchair Travel, Dec 2009

You should read the whole article.

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Still recovering

Posted by Ralph | 1:41 PM

I finished my antibiotics today. I'm going to start some serious PT and OT after the New Year. Don't know how much work I'm going to get done but my body needs some serious rehab.

So Voc. Rehab doesn't get on my case I'm going to start re-paying them for my gear. My body is just more important right now.

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Still no news

Posted by Ralph | 2:12 PM

It's 2:30 and I haven't heard anything from my primary care or infectious disease doctors. I'm trying so hard to stay away from a nursing home. The stress is really starting to get to me.

When the 3rd or 4th of January comes I have to go home.

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Posted by Ralph | 11:27 PM

I have been in the hospital since October 22 with osteo in my right hip. They surgically debrided the wound but serious IV antibiotics have kept me down and out for almost two months.

The boredom is maddening, the pain sometimes unbearable, but the worst are the lost holidays. This tiny little bed has become somewhat of a rolling nightmare. I lay on one side for awhile then the next with no motivation but sleeping and eating. I have put on some quality poundage....... 20 or so and the plumping up is good.

The worst is missing the holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas and maybe even New Years.

It started out with a small discoloration on my right side and I would lay on my left side until I got a small discoloration there. My last resort was my back and because I slept on it so rarely I almost immediately got (and still have) a dime sized open wound.

I have been tested for everything under the sun. Hepatitis A,B,C. HIV and blood, urine and stool samples. Fortunately all of that was negative.

The surgeons did a debridement of the suspected Osteo, sealed the wound and prescribed a 6 week IV regime. That was supposed to last until Dec. 19, then the Jan. 3rd shoe dropped.

I was transferred to a Nursing Home and the doctor took me off all my pain med's and now I'm back in the hospital. I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm just so stressed out depressed I don't know what to do.

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Karen Darke Interview

Posted by Ralph | 11:50 AM

Karen Darke is a super adventurer, with more trips under her belt than some of the world's most famous travellers. She has climbed El Capitan, crossed the Tien Shan and Karakoram mountains of Central Asia on a handcycle, sea kayaked a 1,200 mile length of the Alaska-Canada coastline, and handcycled the length of Japanese archipelago and the Indian Himalaya, and she is getting ready to sit-ski to the South Pole. She was also recently awarded British Cosmo's "Fearless Woman of the year" award.

Karen your list of adventures read like those of the most able (and mental) adventurers of all time, tell me which was the most challenging trip, and which did you enjoy most?

I can’t answer that question as they’ve all been challenging in different ways, and enjoyable in different ways. Physically though, skiing across the Greenland icecap was probably the hardest. It was relentless effort, and in the mornings my hands / tendons in my hands were seized and it took half an hour to get moving again each day. No lasting bad effects though!

Mentally, leaving my wheelchair behind for 3 months when kayaking from Canada to Alaska was tough – I thought I would go mad without it in the first week, but I adapted. It just meant doing jobs and helping the team in ways that I could – like cooking and brewing cups of tea for everyone the whole time!

Climbing again – El Capitan in Yosemite – was really tough emotionally, as it must have stirred up a lot of hidden / subconscious memories, fear of heights, of climbing / falling. I broke my leg at the end of it and I’m not surprised – I pushed myself to the limit emotionally and I think a little too far.

You broke your back in 1993, 16 years and 6 almost unbelievable adventures later you have accomplished more than most able bodied people do in their entire lives. What drives you to keep up this kind of pace?

No idea. My genetics. Just the way I am. My mum and dad never sit still, so I’m sure I got some of it from them! Many people ask if its because / a reaction to being paralysed but I don’t think so. I’ve always had a lot of energy and just love getting out and doing stuff, and having adventures. It doesn’t feel like I need motivation for it most of the time – its just what I get out of bed for!

How did your injury happen? I read it was a climbing accident.

Yes I fell off a cliff when I was rock climbing. I was leading the climb ie. First one up. The rock was too steep, and I reached the point I couldn’t hold on anymore. Unfortunatley the gear I’d put in the rock (the last bit) ripped out and I hit the rock beneath, breaking my back at T3, my neck (lucky not to damage my cord there), arms, ribs, punctured lung, skull etc.

Have you had any accidents since you got in the chair?

Yes, Broken my hip across the femur (playing party games), my neck of femur (doing yoga) and my leg (going climbing again).

How do you go about organizing expiditons like this? Do you have sponsors, what kind of support do you need?

Its hard. Previous expeditions have been relatively cheap, so have been either self-funded, or with the help of one or two small sponsors. Greenland was more expensive and we applied for ‘expedition grants’ from places like the Royal Geographical Society, and also got sponsorship for gear and equipment from outdoor companies, and discounted rates / free excess baggage from Iceland Air and Air Greenland. The South Pole is a different kettle of fish. We will need a very major sponsor, or collection of sponsors to help it become a reality.

Your really planning to "sit-ski" to the south pole. I'm familiar with skiing down mountains but isn't Antarctica relatively flat? What are your biggest concerns logistically?

A cross-country sit-ski is different to a downhill sit-ski. You double pole along with your arms (see pictures on the website) and flat is good, as you have no ability to stop and its also hard to turn. The biggest challenge will be the cold –keeping warm, and also the friction that the cold creates for the sit-ski, as it relies heavily on the ability of the skis to glide along. This is easier when the snow or ice is a little warmer i.e. a thin layer of water between the skis and the surface.

Tell me more about the ski. Did you design it? I can't imagine it being off the rack.

The current sit-ski I have is ‘off the rack’ but with the seat from a downhill sit-ski, to give it extra warmth, insulation and support for my bum, hips and torso. Being paralysed from the chest down means that I need a good level of back support and abdominal support, so the seat is kind of customized for me, but essentially is just the seat from a downhill sit-ski plonked on a cross-country sit ski frame. For Antarctica, we are still looking at what might need to be changed / improved etc. to cope with the harsher conditions.

How long of a trip will this be and what are your most major concerns? I'm sure frost bite is a huge worry.

Yes, frost bite, and also the physical aspect of staying healthy, injury free, and not having catheter / toilet problems! There are only so many clean clothes we can carry, and no where to wash, so having any accidents is that department is obviously a big no-no. In Greenland I duct taped my catheter tubes etc. together to make sure they couldn’t work themselves apart, stayed very well hydrated, peed even when I didn’t need to etc. just to make sure everything went as smoothly as possible.

Frost bite in legs / feet is a worry, as I can’t feel them.I’ll no doubt be wearing at least 5 pairs of insulated trousers / layers the whole time, as was the case in Greenland. I’ll also use heat pads and drinking bottles as hot water bottles to ensure everything stays as warm as poss.

What kind of team are you bringing with you and how much do you expect it to cost?

So far there are only three of us – myself, my partner and a friend. The cost is a big issue, and we would like to keep it to a minimum, but with the maximum chance of success. We are still debating whether to have a team size of 4 or 6, and have various people we’re considering for this. The cost is between $40,000 and £60,000 per person depending on the route we choose, and if we have any re-stock points. The time it will take is anything from 5 weeks to 10 weeks, depending also on the route we take. WE’d like to go all the way from the sea (Hercules Inlet) to the Pole, but cost may become prohibitive.

Your trying to raise nearly $200,000 for charity. What's the charity and who do they help?

We’re actually trying to raise £1 million. The first £100,000K is for The Back-Up Trust, a charity that help peole with spinal cord injury lead active / fulfilling lives. Google it or follow the link on our website for more info.

How much have you raised so far and how do people donate?

None raised for the expedition itself so far (though have 3 companies interested, and all of the exped costs will be met through our own pockets and company sponsorship). The charity money so far we’ve raised (not much) £240, and people can donate to the charity online at the website, www.poleofpossibility.com

What do you do for work and do they support your trips at all?

I am self-employed as a training and development consultant. Coaching, facilitating courses, working with social enterprise, etc. I fund bits of my own trips where I can!

Are you familiar with any other disabled adventurers and their accomplishments

Yes, many. In the US, Eric Weihenmayer, Mark Wellman, the team at ‘No Barriers USA’ (check out ‘no barriers’ in Google. There are disabled adventurers all over the world doing great stuff. A Russian guy (paraplegic) skied across Greenland a year or two before we did. It’s great that people are getting out there and doing stuff!

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What a rough month

Posted by Ralph | 9:12 PM

I was having some pretty serious skin problems last month and it put me in the hospital. I had a sore on each hip and a small open one on my back. They admitted me with an early diagnosis of osteomyelitis.

The doctors were right about the osteo, after an MRI confirmed the diagnosis. I also had MRSA and Pseudomonas in my bladder. They tested me for hepatitis, swine flu, HIV (all negative!)and everything else you can be tested for.

I had surgery on my right hip to remove the damage and I have been on antibiotics for weeks. The antibiotics are working well and I'm recovering quickly!

I also lost my gmail password and that's why I haven't been on here. Everything is good now, probably going home for home care this or the next week.

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Fully Accessible 4x4 van

Posted by Ralph | 4:22 PM

As always I'm cruising the net looking for great stuff and this 4x4 conversion van is awesome! The companies name is Disabled Explorers and they have some great stuff in the works!

The plan calls for a wheelchair lift, tie-downs, a power drivers transfer seat and hand controls. This should give us a great platform to take almost anyone out for their first backcountry experience and since the rig has a nice sleeping setup we can offer overnight outings . I hope to post some pictures soon of the already completed 4wd conversion and the roof installation. I also hope to get out to the SMB West Fresno factory before too much longer to do work myself on the camera system, laptop mount, gps, and adding some extra insulation. But until then please enjoy some previews of the project and our reasons for the choices we are making.

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"Britain’s top Paralympic Classes sailors are in confident form ahead of the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships, which get underway in Athens on Wednesday (14 October).

Buoyed by their recent podium performances at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, and in the overall ISAF Sailing World Cup series, British crews in the three Paralympic class boats are determined to continue their winning ways along the road to 2012.

And with all seven Skandia Team GBR sailors set to compete for World Championship glory in Athens this week, more silverware is already within their sights.

For 22-year-old Megan Pascoe, her World Cup series victory in the single-handed 2.4mR class – clinched on home waters in Weymouth in Portland last month – capped off a consistent year and provided a timely boost to her Worlds campaign

“It’s shown that I’ve had a really good year, I’ve been solid and I’ve had some great results so I can be up there with the best of the guys,” she explained.

“I’ve got a very good chance. I’ve been out to Scandinavia as well [as Skandia Sail for Gold] where I beat the best able-bodied guys, so there is the chance that I could go on and win the world title, and that would just be amazing.

“I haven’t sailed in Greece since 2003 so it’s been a while since I’ve been out there. I think it’s just a case of going out there and seeing what I can get. It should be good fun!”

Pascoe will be joined in the 31-boat 2.4mR fleet by Helena Lucas, who finished seventh for Great Britain at the 2008 Paralympic Games.

The World Cup-winning Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas will be looking to reclaim the World Championship title they won in 2005 and 2006 when they line up in the 14-boat Sonar fleet this week.

Robertson, Stodel and Thomas claimed gold for Skandia Team GBR at the Rolex Miami Olympic Classes Regatta and silver at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta to establish themselves as key contenders in the Sonar fleet after their disappointment at the Paralympic Games.

“We’ve moved on from Beijing – we came sixth there – and now it’s time to re-establish ourselves as number one in the world,” said a determined Thomas after claiming the World Cup win last month.

Meanwhile in the SKUD 18 – the newest of the Paralympic classes – Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also have gold in their sights to complete the full set of medals this year, having claimed bronze in Miami, and silver at Skandia Sail for Gold to hand them silver in the overall World Cup series.

The duo, who finished fifth at the Beijing Paralympics, have been working this year with new coach Ian Barker – a silver medallist in the 49er class at the Sydney 2000 Games – which Rickham says has been paying off.

“It’s been really positive,” the 28-year-old explained.

“Obviously Ian’s a silver medal winner so it’s been a great opportunity for us as a team to be able have someone who’s that experienced, and it’s been great for him as he’s been able to understand the way we work and try and tweak a few bits and pieces before the World Championships, which is really our focus this year.”

Rickham continued: “We’re content with the [World Cup] silver, but it’s gold that we really want – that’s what we’re aiming for, and hopefully Ian’s going to be able to help us to complete that.”

Racing at the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championship gets underway on Wednesday 14 October. An 11-race series is scheduled, with the regatta concluding on Sunday 18 October.

Lindsey Bell

See Regatta racing images:

Skandia Team GBR squad for the IFDS Disabled Sailing World Championships:

Name Born Place of Birth Lives


Niki Birrell 16/08/86 Manchester Knutsford

Alexandra Rickham 11/09/1981 Kingston, Jamaica Epsom, Surrey


Megan Pascoe 29/11/1986 Shoreham-by-Sea Portland, Dorset

Helena Lucas 29/04/1975 Redhill, Surrey Southampton


John Robertson 11/02/1972 Sunderland Sunderland

Hannah Stodel 27/08/1985 Colchester West Mersea
Stephen Thomas 05/01/1977 Bridgend Cardiff"

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Cybernetic update - The Audeo

Posted by Ralph | 11:26 PM

Michael Callahan is a 24 year old STUDENT at the University of Illinois. He recently won the prestigious $30,000 Lemelson-Illinois Student Prize for inventing The Audeo, a device that translates neurological signals into spoken words or commands for other devices (such as a motorized wheelchair).

I was watching the Discovery Channel and The Audeo promises that those who have lost the ability to speak from disease or injury to speak again from thought alone.

"The Audeo will allow people with disabilities to express their thoughts and ideas, an aspect of life which is often taken for granted. ALS patient, Stephen Hawking accomplishes this through the movement of one of his fingers which has remained controllable despite his disease. By being able to move his finger, Stephen Hawking has been able to propose some of the most intelligent ideas of our time. Without that ability, those ideas would be confined to his own mind. Unfortunately, most patients lose all motor control and have no way of conveying their ideas. It is our hope that the Audeo will give people back this ability and allow many more profound ideas to change the world through communication."

"The Audeo is being developed to create a human-computer interface for communication. When a person intends to speak their brain sends muscle instructions in the form of electrical signals through the nervous system. These electrical signals stimulate the muscles to, under normal circumstances, produce the desired speech. In many cases however, disease or disability can prevent the muscles from responding to this stimulation. The Audeo gets around this by directly utilizing the electrical activity itself, which even in severe cases can still be present."

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Paraplegic skiing to South Pole

Posted by Ralph | 6:49 PM

Now this is absolutely amazing!

"AN ADVENTURER who uses a wheelchair after breaking her back in a climbing accident will attempt to become the first person to ski to the South Pole using only arm power.

Using a “sit-ski” to propel herself, Karen Darke, 38, of Culduthel Road, Inverness, will negotiate 730 miles of ice and lethal crevasse fields in Antarctica.

During the expedition, called Pole of Possibility, Ms Darke will be joined by her partner, Andy Kirkpatrick, one of the UK’s leading climbers, and Roddy McLauchlan, an Inverness-based personal trainer.

They hope to raise £1million for charities, including the Back Up Trust, an organisation which arranges outdoor sports activity courses for people paralysed through spinal cord injury.

The venture was originally scheduled for 2011, but the team has decided to delay the expedition, which is expected to last for up to 60 days, until the following year.

Ms Darke revealed that she had been asked to take part in the South Pole race that Olympic rowing gold medallist Ben Cracknell and TV presenter Ben Fogle tackled in January this year, but turned down the opportunity.

It was also announced this week that Ms Darke has been shortlisted in the Cosmopolitan Ultimate Women of the Year Awards in the ultimate fearless female category.

Ms Darke said: “I feel quite humble being nominated in the same category as people who do aid work or work in developing countries, but we all have our own strengths.”

Grantown-born Ms Darke was 21 when she was paralysed from the chest down in a rock-climbing accident at Cove, Aberdeen.

Despite using a wheelchair, she has completed an eight-week, 1,200-mile, hand-bike tour across the Tien Shan and Karakoram mountains of central Asia and made a record-breaking 360-mile crossing of Greenland on a sit-ski similar to what she will use in Antarctica.

For information about sponsoring and donating, log on to http://www.karendarke.com/

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I'm reading about this ranch in California that provides outdoor rides in special designed carriages drafted by massive horses.

"Our Mission: Enriching the lives of people with disabilities and underserved youth by providing outdoor recreation, environmental education and open space access, using innovative wheelchair accessible horsedrawn carriages.

Access Adventure is a program of the Solano Land Trust, and also works with the Muir Heritage Land Trust in Contra Costa County.

Serving the people of the greater San Francisco Bay Area, the program operates on more than 16,000 acres of preserved open space lands. Solano Land Trust’s Rush Ranch, located near Suisun City on 2,070 acres, straddles the Suisun Marsh, and is the headquarters for Access Adventure.

The Muir Heritage Land Trust hosts Access Adventure as a user group on the spectacular properties they protect. Both land trusts have ample areas to explore with the horsedrawn carriages of Access Adventure.
We provide weekly events of recreational carriage driving, special events featuring historical horsefarming, youth programs and unique educational opportunities relating to preservation, ecology, wildlife habitat and rangeland management.

The programs of Access Adventure are provided to anyone living with a condition that affects their ability to get around. We use Thornlea Carriages built by Jerry and Barbara Garner in Wabash, Indiana. These uniquely designed vehicles offer a safe and comfortable ride, providing access to anywhere horses can go. The world becomes a bigger place, with the pleasure of being out in nature accessible to everyone.

If your in the west and want to experience this amazing experience go to http://www.access-adventure.org/access.html

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Double Amputee does building stair climbs

Posted by Ralph | 10:50 AM

"AT 11 years old, Dwayne Fernandes had become a double leg amputee.

Now 23, he runs up buildings with more than 1500 stairs.

Indian-born Fernandes, who resides in Blacktown, was born with a birth defect that left him with weak lower limbs.

This in turn forced him to have his feet removed and replaced with titanium carbon-fibre prosthetics.

Last year, Fernandes put his legs to the ultimate test and became the first double amputee to run up the 1501-stair Sydney Tower Run-Up event.

And as far as he is concerned, it hasn’t really affected his life negatively at all.

“I’ve pretty much been able to do everything that anybody else can do, well ... except bungee jumping for obvious reasons,” he jokes.

“I’ve always been a confident person and never try to disguise my prosthetic legs, like a lot of amputees do, because I feel I am who I am and they are a part of me.”

In fact, Fernandes said there were benefits to his prosthetics that other people missed out on.

It has meant that he can choose his own height and is vertically free.

“I remember in university there was a girl who was two inches taller than me, and by the end of the year she was shocked to see I was two inches taller than her,” he said.

Fernandes has adopted a simple, yet effective philosophy that he encourages everybody to live by.

“It’s either hide in your own shadow or get out and inspire others. I’ve got a couple of friends who have a disability and hide behind it, but I see this as pretty pointless,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what you’ve got, as long as you use it, because in countries like Australia there’s so much to utilise so you can’t really waste it on excuses.”

And with that, Fernandes will take on a new world-first this February when he flies to New York in an attempt to become the first double amputee to scale the 1576 stairs of the Empire State building Tower-Run Up.

As an insolvency accountant by day for PBB, Fernandes says his goal wouldn’t have been possible had it not been for PBB sponsoring him to fly to New York for the event."

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Double amputee climbs Mt. Everest.

Posted by Ralph | 10:27 AM

Double Amputee Climbs Everest - Click here for more free videosIt's old news on the 'net but very worth posting here. 53 year old double amputee Mark Inglis a New Zealander climbed the world's tallest mountain Mt. Everest in 2006.

A man in their group died and many people have questioned what happened but if you go up that mountain you take your life in your own hands.

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Yesterday I was watching ESPN and saw the story of Sarah Reinertsten the first ABK female amputee to compete in Ironman World Triathlon in Kona, Hawaii. Running with a hinged Ossur Prosthetic she finished as the first female amputee ever. Here's an excellent article.

"What made you decide to compete in triathlon?
I got interested in triathlon after watching the Hawaii Ironman on TV. I had recently returned from the 1992 Paralympic Games and saw a video of the Ironman race, and was enthralled by these people that were swimming, biking and running these incredible distances. I decided right then that I would do that race one day. The only thing was that I didn’t know how to bike and I didn’t really know how to swim. Since running was my strong suit I started to run in long road races and did 7 marathons before turning my attention to the bike & swim. It was actually 11 years after seeing my first Ironman on TV that I completed my very first triathlon. I started off with a sprint race, and have spent the past six years racing in triathlons of all distances.

What is your typical training week?
I train about 10-15 hours a week. I do each sport at least 3-4 times per week. Tuesday & Thursdays & Sunday are my swim and run days. Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays are my bike days.

Many triathletes use a training log. How meticulous are you in preparation for your training?
I do use a training log, and I’m pretty meticulous about my training. In fact I transfer my workouts from my log straight into my calender every month, so it’s like an appointment in my book, and it helps me plan my days.

What adaptations have you had to make to accommodate your disability for triathlon?
I have made many changes in my evolution as a triathlete, the biggest hurdle for me was the bike. Especially being an above-knee amputee I don’t get a lot of power out of my left leg, and I can’t stand up on the bike at all, meaning I can’t stand up to help myself get up those big hills. I have to sit in the saddle, be patient and just grind up the hills, even if I’m going at a very slow pace. We have worked hard to get the right gearing and bike set-up.

Can you describe any special equipment that you use for triathlon?
There’s a lot of gear in triathlons, but for me, I have different prosthetic legs that I need to bring with me. I use one prosthetic for the bike, and a different prosthetic for the run. My bike leg uses a different foot (Flex Foot Mod III), that has been shaved down a bit, and with a bike cleat bolted directly to the bottom of the foot. I also use a light prosthetic knee (Total Knee 2000), and the top edges on the socket of the bike leg are trimmed very low so I don’t get chaffing on my hip from the prosthesis with every pedal stroke. As for the run leg, it’s a higher fitting socket, and has a more robust hydraulic knee (Total Knee 2100), and of course a prosthetic foot designed specifically for running, the Flex-Run.

The breakthroughs in prosthetic technology have really helped make it possible for me to even consider doing an Ironman. Once I got my Flex-Run foot in 2000, I finally got my marathon time below six hours, after that I knew I had a prayer of doing the Ironman marathon in a fast enough time to make the 17-hour race cut-off.

What is the highlight of your involvement competing in triathlon so far?
The biggest highlight was crossing the finish line at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. I made history as the first woman on an artificial leg to finish the Hawaii Ironman, and it was a goal that took me 13 years to reach, so it was dream come true. I have also been honored to compete at the ITU world championships in New Zealand, Germany, and soon in Australia.

What are your goals for this season?
My goals this season are always to get faster and stronger, to win my division at the ITU Triathlon World Championships at the Gold Coast, Australia. However, I’ve had been battling a stress fracture this season, so I haven’t run the splits I’ve wanted to. The stress fracture is in my foot, and since it’s my only foot I’ve really had to be patient in this healing process. When I first injured it after a race in Orlando I couldn’t walk for days.

Outside of triathlon, I did reach a very big goal of mine. I have had my first book published, its is a memoir called, ‘In A Single Bound: Losing My Leg, Finding Myself and Training for Life.’ It is being released in the United States on September 1, 2009 on Globe Pequot Press. Writing a book was like training for an Ironman, it required endurance and perseverance and I definitely hit the wall at chapter nine, I still pushed through to the final chapter and its is now another proud finish line for me.

Do you have any advice or words of encouragement for individuals thinking about competing in paratriathlon?
If you have any interest in doing a triathlon, well get out there and TRI. If you’re overwhelmed by all three sports, at least get out there and master one, and I think the relay division is a great way to get started in the sport. You can recruit other friends to do the other two sports, and you can all train and support each other for that first relay triathlon together. I also recommend joining a local triathlon club, masters swim class or running club to help keep you motivated (and honest) in your training. Since there are other considerations for athletes with disabilities, the CAF (Challenged Athletes Foundation) does offer triathlon workshops to teach amputees, paraplegics, etc. how to swim, bike, wheel or run. You can find the schedule for the next sports clinics at www.challengedathletes.org"

Photo: Triathlon.org

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Universal Sports and other sites today have posted that Chris Waddell, a former U.S. Adaptive Ski Team member and Paralympic champion was the first paraplegic to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.

In August of 2006, paraplegic U.S. Army veteran Darol Kubacz and a team of other disabled vets made the climb of the world's tallest freestanding mountain (19,340 feet)

It's still an amazing accomplishment and regardless of the order Chris's accomplishment isn't diminished in this reporter's eyes.

"MT. KILIMANJARO, Tanzania -– Paralympic champion and U.S. Adaptive Ski Team alum Chris Waddell became the first paraplegic to reach the 19,340-foot summit of Mount Kilimanjaro on Wednesday, Sept. 30. The One-Revolution team and Waddell began their journey of climbing to largest freestanding mountain in the world a week earlier.

Waddell wrote on his blog, "We summited today. Slept in the crater last night. Everyone’s asleep. Long day." Waddell and his team were reportedly on their way back down the mountain.

The climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro began Sept. 24. For six days, Waddell pressed through the pain and fatigue to reach the peak using the Marangu route (Coca Cola route). Friends say he continues to be an inspiration to the sport and all disabled sports.

Waddell was a promising Middlebury racer when a skiing accident left him paralyzed in 1988. Shortly after, he began skiing on a monoski. In less than two years, he was named to the U.S. Adaptive Ski Team. Waddell was on the team for 11 years, competing in four Paralympic Winter Games (plus three summer) winning 12 winter medals, becoming the most decorated male skier in Paralympic history. In 1994, he swept all four golds in Lillehammer, Norway.

Waddell spent much of the past few years planning and engineering a unique four-wheel cycling device to allow him to climb the highest mountain in Africa. He trained hours and hours on end near his home in Park City, Utah, and took the three-wheeler on training rides including Moab, Utah's famous White Rim Trail. Nothing, though, would compare to the challenges Waddell knew he would face on Kilimanjaro.

"Chris' accomplishment will bring greater awareness to the Paralympic movement," said U.S. Adaptive Ski Team Coach Ray Watkins. "It's not just about our U.S. Adaptive Ski Team, but about the Paralympic movement as a whole!"

"He has done something that very few people in this world have done," said U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association Adaptive Program Director Sandy Metzger. He'll do a lot to show what disabled people can do."

When on the team, Waddell was a team leader. He constantly was pushing himself and other athletes to work harder and perform better. In his career, he competed in both summer and winter Paralympics. He was recently among final nominees to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, with results of balloting expected to be announced soon.

"Chris was always one of the pacesetters in whatever workout we were doing. He was big in developing new levels of conditioning, especially for the sitting athletes on the Team," explained Watkins. "He tried everything we put in front of him and did it at a high level."

Recently, Waddell was asked to be a representative on the USSA Board of Directors representing adaptive skiing. Metzger said Waddell will bring great insight about the team and USSA.

"He was always a wonderful person to have on the team, a terrific attitude," expressed Metzger. "He has an infectious personality and when he meets people they're just drawn to him."

Photo and content U.S. Ski Team

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2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro

Posted by Ralph | 12:24 PM

The IOC finally determined that Chicago wasn't a good fit for the Olympics/Paralympics and I for one, am happy they made the choice of Rio de Janeiro.

South America has never hosted a Olympic games and in fairness they should share some of the burdens, as well as the glory of being selected a host.

The games are a massive tax on resources, construction, housing and traffic just to name a few and Chicago already has their own problems. I'm sure the majority of Chicago's citizens are better of than Rio's but I'm still glad that the games are out of the U.S.

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Prosthetics update - Immaculate arm

Posted by Ralph | 12:07 PM

This prosthetic arm was designed by Hans Alexander Huseklepp, a designer in Norway.

It is designed to be connected to the wearer's nervous system, like the most advanced, but less aesthetically designed, prosthetics currently are.

Because each of its joints is a globe joint it is capable of a larger freedom of movement than a normal human arm.

The exterior parts of the arm are made from the plastic Corian, the inner layer is textile.

This image is a model built to demonstrate the concept.

(Image: Hans Alexander Huseklepp)


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What do you think is worse?

Posted by Ralph | 10:01 AM

From time to time I ask myself about my disability and wonder if I could deal any better if I spent my whole life this way.

Personally I think blindness would be the most difficult to manage. What if you could see for a long time in your life then it was gone never to return? You knew what colors are but now you can't find the right outfit in your closet. Or your blind your whole life, never seeing verdant fields of green grass, much less what color your clothes are. Watching a blind person barrel ass out into the world, on and off city buses never ceases to amaze me.

In regards to me... I lived 22 years as an a/b person, lived in more cities than most people do in their whole lives. I'm well travelled, self educated and as a matter of extreme irony I dove in the lake I broke my neck in 4 or 5 times before.

I guess that's why people call them accidents!

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Posted by Ralph | 5:27 PM

Summerville -- A tear slid down Kayla Beczynski's cheek as the words passed her trembling lips.
"I'm sorry." Her voice thin, below a whisper.

Her mother stroked Kayla's hand. "Oh, baby, no," Carrie Rhymer comforted. "Honey, you don't have anything to be sorry about."

Kayla blinked as more tears trickled onto her pale skin. Try as she might, she could not raise a hand to wipe them away.

At age 15, Kayla is a prisoner in her body, unable to move or breathe on her own. A former gymnast and cheerleader, she now spends her days tethered to a bed or a wheelchair, her limbs motionless.

In May, a teenager's trust and sense of adventure led her to join a neighbor for a ride in the woods on an all-terrain vehicle. The outing ended in a shuddering crash that left Kayla paralyzed from the neck down.

Rhymer, a single mom, left her job at a credit union to care for her only child. Her best friend, nurse Colleen Hodge, moved in to help. They spend their days working with Kayla and researching doctors and treatments that might help her regain use of her limbs.

Photo by Alan Hawes
The Post and Courier
Kayla Beczynski shares a smile with her mother.

Kayla's family refuses to believe her paralysis is permanent -- she beat the odds once by surviving the wreck; she can do it again.

Kayla's arctic blue eyes shimmered as she gazed at the street where she once played. A ventilator tube tugging at her throat, she struggled to mouth the words to voice her conviction.

"I'm going to walk again."
A terrible crash

The crash occurred in a sliver of time on a warm spring evening. Rhymer had left Kayla at their Chipping Sparrow Drive home while she dashed to Home Depot for landscaping supplies. The trip took 30 minutes.

While she was away, next-door neighbor Katrina Elsworth, 32, invited Kayla for a ride on an ATV. Why not, Kayla thought. It sounded like fun. So they climbed aboard the four-wheeler and Elsworth drove to a wooded area near the Sawmill Branch Trail.
They didn't wear helmets or protective gear.

Witnesses later would tell police the ATV was going "way too fast" as Elsworth approached a muddy spot along the trail where she'd gotten stuck in the past. As she swerved to avoid the patch, the 15-foot embankment gave way. The ATV flipped in the air, tossing the riders as it tumbled into the canal, coming to rest in a foot of water.

Police found Elsworth kneeling over Kayla's motionless body. The impact had broken Kayla's neck in two places and damaged an artery carrying blood to her brain. She turned blue as blood seeped from her mouth and nose.

Rhymer was at the store when Elsworth called from Kayla's cell phone: There's been an accident, Elsworth said. Go to Summerville Medical Center.
Rhymer raced right over, but no one would tell her what happened. When she finally persuaded hospital workers to let her see her daughter, she found two dozen doctors and nurses working feverishly on Kayla.
Rhymer was 19 when she gave birth to Kayla. They were like best friends. Now, she almost didn't recognize her bruised and bloodied child.
"I felt like someone had reached in and torn my heart out," Rhymer said.

Carrie Rhymer consoles her 15-year-old daughter, Kayla Beczynski, as Rhymer talks about the day in May that Kayla was left paralyzed after being thrown from a fast-moving ATV that crashed in a wooded area near the Sawmill Branch Trail in Summerville.

Beating the odds

As police questioned Elsworth about the wreck, an ambulance whisked Kayla to Medical University Hospital's pediatric trauma center.
Doctors told Rhymer that Kayla's body had shut down while paramedics were working on her and again in the emergency room -- in essence, she had died twice. Though medics revived her, they weren't hopeful. One doctor told the family they had only a few hours left to say their goodbyes.

Anne Hewitt, Kayla's grandmother, turned to the doctor and shook her head. "You don't get the last word on that."

Dozens of family members and friends kept vigil in the packed hospital waiting room. They hugged and prayed when Kayla made it through that night. Then another. And another after that.

They celebrated again after a successful operation to fuse her spine. Still, doctors cautioned them against expecting too much. They said Kayla probably would never be able to breathe or eat on her own. Brain damage also was likely. Walking? Unimaginable.

Kayla spent six weeks in the Charleston hospital as arrangements were made for specialized treatment at Shepherd Center, a catastrophic care hospital in Atlanta.

As they prepared for the journey, police moved in and arrested Elsworth on a charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Their investigation revealed she had been driving too fast on an ATV built for one rider. Tests also showed she had marijuana and prescription drugs in her system, according to an arrest affidavit.
Elsworth posted bail and went home the same day. Her husband said she could not be reached for this story.

The long road back

Kayla spent six weeks at Shepherd Center, emerging from a jumbled haze and learning how to live in an entirely different way. At first, she communicated by blinking her eyes. Then, slowly, words came. She talked, joked, recalled details from the crash and her life. Fears that she had suffered brain damage gradually diminished.
But her mother grew frustrated with the lack of physical therapy Kayla was receiving. The center seemed focused on teaching Kayla to live as a quadriplegic, not on helping her overcome her disability.

By the time they left the center in mid-August, Rhymer felt they had accomplished little.
Kayla and her family returned to Summerville and their two-story home beside the Elsworths' house.

Rhymer and her relatives spoke out in favor of legislation to better protect children from the dangers of ATV riding. They urged adults to be more responsible, as well, but avoided mentioning Katrina Elsworth by name. As much as possible, they kept their distance from her, not wanting to stoke the tension that had settled like an invisible wall between the two families.

Photo by Alan Hawes
The Post and Courier

Carrie Rhymer walks alongside her daughter, Kayla Beczynski, outside their home in Summerville on Monday. Rhymer and her boyfriend, Sebastian Spence, watch Kayla practice maneuvering her mouthcontrolled wheelchair in the cul-de-sac on their street.

A large "Welcome Home" banner greeted Kayla when she arrived. Friends soon filled the house, just like old times. Spunky, athletic, always ready with a joke -- Kayla had been a people-magnet her whole life. The old Kayla was still present in photos all over the house. Gazing out over a lake. Taking a break from roller skating. Sporting her favorite hip-hop hat and flashing a peace sign.

With her playful smile, hot pink fingernails and sandy hair pulled back in a barrette, Kayla still looks every bit the teenager. But appearances don't tell the whole story.
She no longer can scamper to her bedroom on the second floor. She splits her time between a hospital bed in the middle of the family's living room and a wheelchair she's learning to operate with her mouth. She requires around-the-clock nursing care. Without a handicapped-accessible vehicle, she needs an ambulance to make it to doctors' appointments.

"I get sad sometimes because I can't do things like I used to," Kayla said. When those times come, she watches television, reads or finds some other distraction to push the dark thoughts away. She has to stay focused, positive.

"She's lost a lot," her mother said. "But, you know, I think things happen for a reason, and I think things happen to people who can handle them."
Challenges remain

Kayla gritted her teeth as a canvas sling grabbed hold of her frail body and lifted it from a narrow bed with polka dot sheets.
Nurse Hodge cradled Kayla's head and held the tubes snaking from her throat as her mother worked the winch lowering her into a wheelchair. Her feet, clad in black Crocs, dangled from the sling. The ventilator controlling her breathing beeped insistently from the corner of the bed.

"Almost there, Kay," her mom soothed. "I've got you, baby."
Beads of perspiration lining her forehead, Rhymer straddled the chair and slid Kayla into an upright position. Hodge adjusted the brace holding Kayla's head in place as Rhymer wrapped towels around her daughter's elbows to prevent sores. Kayla offered a weak smile as they finished, the rhythmic, metallic hiss of the ventilator filling the room.
It's a routine they perform a few times every day.
Kayla's uncle Chris often stops by to help lift her from the bed. Otherwise, it's up to Rhymer and Hodge.

The pair have been busy researching treatments and programs to help with her recovery. They arranged for a physical therapist, who helped Kayla sit up in bed for the first time with assistance. They've also looked into a program in Miami that uses electrodes to try to reconnect the brain with paralyzed muscles. On Oct. 3, they have a meeting in Greenville to see if they can get Kayla into a Shriners hospital in Pennsylvania for advanced therapy.

They cling to stories of hope and the progress they see. Kayla's aunt, Kirsty Murray, met a woman on an online forum who fought her way back from paralysis and gave birth to three children. Maybe Kayla can do the same, they reason, because she already has come further than doctors expected. She is eating solid food again, regaining her voice, building strength in her lungs.

Fundraisers and benefits have helped support the family while insurance money has helped defray the cost of her medical care. They are grateful for the help and people's prayers. There's not much money for extras, but Rhymer doesn't care.

"We know this isn't a quick fix," she said. "As long as we have a roof over our heads and she's getting better, I don't care about anything else."

A simple wish

Rhymer and her mother stood at the foot of the driveway, cheering as Kayla maneuvered her wheelchair around the cul-de-sac by manipulating a special tube with her mouth. She moved tentatively at first, jerking forward and gliding in short bursts. Then she got the hang of it, spinning the chair in a circle for a small victory lap.
"She is still so full of life," her grandmother said.

Kayla already is thinking ahead to her first steps. She sees herself walking down the road, heading to Burger King and having lunch with her friends.

S0urce: Glenn Smith - Courier and Post

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Cybernetics New future unicycle

Posted by Ralph | 3:23 PM

"Yeah, we've seen a self-balancing unicycle before, but the brand new U3-X from Honda takes it to another level. A creepy-sterile, awesomely futuristic Honda level, to be precise.

What makes the U3-X particularly interesting is it has the regular large wheel of a unicycle, but that wheel is actually made up of several small wheels in a series, which can rotate independently, meaning that the device can go forward, backward, side-to-side and diagonally, all being controlled with a simple lean. Honda credits its ASIMO research for this multi-directional capability, though we're not sure we see it -- ASIMO is biped, after all -- but far be it from us to discredit an excuse to keep up the good work on the ASIMO front.

Right now the "experimental model" of the U3-X gets a single hour of battery and weighs under 22 pounds, with a seat and foot rests that fold into the device for extra portability.

No word of course on when the thing might make it to market, but Honda plans to show it off next month at the Tokyo Motor Show. A devastatingly short video of the U3-X in action is after the break."


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Paralympic update - Nordic News

Posted by Ralph | 2:53 PM


Canada’s cross-country ski athletes are sprinting into the highly-anticipated Olympic and Paralympic season replete with veteran leadership and podium potential.

On the heels of the team’s first official training session at the Canmore Nordic Centre, Cross Country Canada kicked off the 2009-10 season by unveiling a stellar lineup of 12 athletes that will don the maple leaf at World Cup and Para-Nordic World Cup competitions around the world.

“We have assembled a unique and experienced group of athletes that have made huge progress, and have demonstrated the ability that Canada is now ready to contend with the best athletes in our sport,” said Tom Holland, director of high-performance, Cross Country Canada, who added that 10 of the 12 athletes named to the senior squads have won medals at the World Cup and Para-Nordic World Cup levels. “For many of our athletes, Torino was their first trip to the Olympics and Paralympics. Building on that experience, we have celebrated many successes over the last four years, but will continue to follow the plan of peaking in Whistler this February.”

Three-time Olympian, Sara Renner of Canmore, Alta., and multiple World Cup medalist, Devon Kershaw, of Sudbury, Ont., will lead the charge for the Canadian contingent on the World Cup. Renner, who began her international medal haul in 2005 when she finished third in the sprint race to become the first Canadian to reach the podium at the World Championships. The Olympic silver medalist has also captured four World Cup medals throughout her 14-year career.

Renner will be joined on the women’s team by Olympic gold medalist and fellow Canmore native, Chandra Crawford, on the World Cup circuit, along with rising young star Perianne Jones, of Almonte, Ont. Crawford is ready to hit the start line this season after taking most of last year off to recover from injury, while the 24-year-old Jones will look to feed off the momentum gained from her strongest international result last year when she teamed up with Renner to finish sixth in the World Championship team sprint.

Devon Kershaw will lead the strongest men’s team that Canada has ever assembled for the World Cup. Kershaw, who made his Olympic debut in Torino, has since collected three World Cup medals while evolving into one of the most consistent skiers in all disciplines on the international circuit. Kershaw will be joined by 29-year-old Ivan Babikov of Canmore, who captured a gold medal in the final stage of the Tour de Ski last season. George Grey, 28, of Rossland, B.C., and 21-year-old Alex Harvey, of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., who teamed up to shock the world by finishing third in the team sprint at the World Cup at Whistler Olympic Park in January 2009, round out the men’s contingent. Harvey, who captured three Junior World Championship medals in his career, also claimed the bronze medal position on the World Cup podium in the men’s 50-kilometer race in Trondheim, Norway to complete his rookie season on the top cross country skiing circuit in the world.

“This is truly one of the most talented World Cup teams in our history, which is a testament to the continued strength and growth of our national program,” said Tom Holland. “Through the generous support and leadership of Own the Podium, along with our corporate partners, we can now deliver the world-leading resources our athletes need to gain a competitive advantage, and better prepare to reach our goal of regularly competing for the podium with the leading nations in our sport.”

The Para-Nordic World Cup Team has also benefited from additional resources, which has resulted in Canada developing one of the strongest teams in the world.

Brian McKeever, along with his guide and brother Robin, who have won nearly everything on the table in Para-Nordic sport including seven Parlaympic medals, will lead the team of five athletes.

Legally blind with Stargardt’s disease, which is a form of macular degeneration that affects central vision, Brian McKeever is continuing his quest to become the first winter-sport athlete to compete at both the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2010. If he meets his goal, it will make him only the second athlete ever in the history of the Olympic and Paralympic Games to accomplish the feat. Three years ago, Brian finished 21st in an able-bodied men’s 15-kilometer skate-ski race at the World Championships.

Joining the McKeever duo on the Para-Nordic World Cup will be eight-time Paralympic medalist, Colette Bourgonje, who is one of the few athletes ever to win multiple medals in both the Paralympic Summer and Winter Games. The Saskatoon resident competed in wheelchair racing at the 1992 Paralympic Summer Games, and sit-ski racing in five Paralympic Winter Games.

Multiple Para-Nordic World Cup medalist, Robbi Weldon and her guide Brian Berry of Thunder Bay, Ont., will be looking to make their Paralympic debut in Whistler with Jody Barber, of Smithers, B.C., and Mark Arendz, of Springton, P.E.I., who round out the national team.

“Canada’s Para-Nordic skiers have been winning medals over the last decade, but hosting a Paralympic Games at home presents a unique opportunity for us to showcase our sport and encourage more athletes with a disability to try cross-country skiing,” said Holland. “With Brian and Colette continuing to steer the ship, the younger athletes on our Para-Nordic Team will continue to benefit from them having the best skiers in the world at their side.”

The World Cup Team will head to Mammoth, California for a three week altitude training camp, September 28, while the Para-Nordic Team will participate in a three-week camp of their own starting September 27 on the Dachstein Glacier in Austria, before moving to Vuokatti, Finland.

Canada’s World Cup Team will participate in its first World Cup of the season, November 21, in Beitostolen, Norway. Canada will also host a World Cup one week prior to the Olympics at the Canmore Nordic Centre, February 5-6, 2010. The Para-Nordic Team will hit the start line for Haywood NorAm competitions in Canada in December before heading out on the World Cup in Europe, January 25, 2010

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Advocacy for new U.S. Paralympians

Posted by Ralph | 12:20 PM

"When Kirk Bauer arrived in Vietnam, he wanted to become a decorated soldier. When he departed, he just wanted some normalcy back in his life, his left leg blown to pieces by a hand grenade during a 1969 ambush.

As Bauer underwent rehabilitation, several Vietnam veterans suggested he try skiing. He hadn’t been released from the hospital, and he wasn’t confident in his ability to perform.

“You’re learning how to ski today,” Disabled Sports USA leaders told Bauer. “But a year from now, you could be racing. Here’s how you do it.”

Four decades later, Bauer is spreading the same message that motivated him to begin ski racing with help from U.S. Paralympics, which hopes to create more opportunities for the disabled through an adaptive sports seminar this week at the Olympic Training Center.

About 30 million Americans, including 2.6 million under 21, have physical disabilities or visual impairments, yet participation in 100-plus Paralympic sports clubs remains limited, and 24 Paralympic teams are lacking depth compared to their European counterparts.

“We don’t have to say anything,” said Bauer, executive director of Disabled Sports USA. “All we have to do is expose that young kid to a Paralympic athlete who is going 60 mph down a slope on one leg.


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Christopher Reeve's birthday

Posted by Ralph | 11:30 AM

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

In a world of who and maybe's, what if's and who done it, we - disabled people would not be in the amazing situation where WE are. Today is Christopher Reeve's birthday and he single handed our world into a much brighter place than before his injury and tragic death.

Today is Superman's birthday, and it is my belief that the science of today would not have been without him. Today we have an exo-skeleton that will allow it's wearer to walk, arm prosthetics that are hard wired to their person, and last but definitiley not least leg prosthesis that nearly got a man to the Olympics!

I believe that in ten more years "dis"-ability will be an uncommon word. If you can please donate to the foundation that funds so much of this research and development. If you really look at it, it's you helping you!

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Prosthetics update - the future is NOW

Posted by Ralph | 10:12 PM

'Radu Litiu: Call it I, Robot meets reality. Had you walked around the Convention Center in downtown Seattle over the past few days, you couldn't have stopped from noticing the relatively large number of people wearing prosthetic legs and arms. They were attending the 2009 AOPA National Assembly, the premier annual conference and trade show of the prosthetics and orthotics industry.

Some of their prostheses looked robotic and futuristic. Some of them were surprisingly anatomically correct -- and surprisingly functional.

Most of these people were not mere attendees. They were in fact employees of the conference exhibitors -- from technicians to sales reps to founder/CEOs. Being a prosthesis user myself, this seems to be a great career choice.

What better way to channel your energy and to fulfill your professional aspirations than to work on a product you'll be a direct beneficiary of? What better way to "dogfood" your product and to provide a short feedback loop than to use the product yourself day-in-and-day-out and to direct all the customer feedback to the guy in the cubicle next to yours?

Although prosthetic technology has come a long way from the days of Captain Ahab (wooden leg and pirate hook), the prosthetic devices currently available commercially have not really kept up with the technology advancements.

As a technologist, I often ask: What has caused this evolutionary gap?

Why is it when the chip in my prosthesis failed, it cost $5000 to have it replaced? (The chip takes some sensor data, runs an algorithm with a few variables to select one in small set of commands, then sends it to the motor powering the joint). Could a commodity smart phone chip not do this work? Also, why are wires going around everywhere, at a time Bluetooth, ZigBee, and other short-range wireless communication technologies are commonplace?

The i-Hand from Touch Bionics
The companies presenting at the AOPA event are working on addressing some of these problems.

Today's prostheses are high tech mechano-electrical devices incorporating advanced technologies in the areas of lightweight and durable materials, low-powered, low-noise motors, computerized control, sensors, short-range wireless communication, haptic feedback and battery technology.

The products on display, some of them still in research prototype stage, hold great promise for the near future.

Among the exhibitors were the prosthetics industry heavyweights, such as Liberating Technologies, Ohio Willow Wood, Ossur, Otto Bock, Touch Bionics and Utah Arm. They showcased some of their current product lineup as well as a few of the novel devices they are working on, such as leg braces with automatically locking knee joints.

Great innovation often comes from smaller companies, though.

In terms of hand prostheses, the most functional product currently available seems to be the i-LIMB Hand from Touch Bionics.

Over the past few years, the DARPA Revolutionary Prosthetics program has injected new blood (a.k.a. money) into arm prosteses R&D efforts. I had the opportunity to get a preview of two of the success stories benefitting from this program -- including a very exciting presentation of the DEKA Arm.

Contineo hand from Orthocare
Seattle's own prosthetics company, Orthocare Innovations where I work, showed a research prototype of a hand with full finger motion. They also demonstrated lower limb developments funded by NIH such as the Compas Bluetooth sensor and software system for optimizing balance and dynamic function of prosthetic legs.

The AOPA event made me realize once again that improving healthcare and the general health of our population will not come only as a result of the healthcare reform we've been hearing about lately in the news.

Also, huge opportunities for unleashing creativity -- and for technological advancements -- are not only in the next social network or the best way of doing video advertising'

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"WHAT. New York Mets welcome teams from Queens, Long Island, the Bronx, Boston, Chicago and Denver for their ninth annual Wheelchair Softball Tournament. In partnership with the New York City Department of Education, more than 100 students with special needs will participate in a softball clinic led by the players.

WHO: More than 100 wheelchair softball players

John Franco, Mets all-time saves leader

Mr. Met

WHERE: Parking Lot A (North Lot at 126th Street and 35th Avenue)

Citi Field

WHEN: Friday, September 25

9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Mr. Met will appear at the clinic at 11:00 a.m.

John Franco will cheer on the players starting at 1:00 p.m.

Saturday, September 26

Tournament play begins at 9:00 a.m.

Championship game at 12:00 p.m.

NOTE: The Mets are sponsoring two teams in the tournament from Queens and Brookhaven, Long Island. The Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Colorado Rockies and New York Yankees will also be represented in the two-day event organized by the Wheelchair Sports Federation. Wheelchair Rugby Gold Medalist Nick Springer will play for the Mets team from Queens. Springer won the Gold at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008."

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Climbing Kili....Again?

Posted by Ralph | 5:09 PM

Even though I thought Darol Kubacz and Jimmy Goodard had done this we have another person reaching for the sky.

"A racer for Middlebury College, Chris Waddell broke his back in a ski accident in 1988. Within two months he bravely returned to school and, shortly thereafter, began ski racing again, single-handedly revolutionizing the sport of mono-skiing. Waddell is the most decorated Paralympian, winning 12 medals for both skiing and track racing. And while he serves as an inspiration for many, Waddell is more interested in shattering stereotypes connected to the term “disabled.”

This week, Waddell, and an eight person team, will attempt to ascend the highest freestanding mountain on the planet—Mt. Kiliminjaro. Waddell, equipped with a one-of-a-kind rig called a Bomba (Swahili for “cooler than cool”), will tackle the 19,341 feet of elevation one crank at a time on his handcycle, propelling himself over boulders, across scree, and up steep terrain with his arms.

Waddell Cranking His Bomba
“One Revolution” is Waddell’s motto for his unassisted climb, which will also be documented by a film crew.

“We’re hoping to change the way people view people in a wheelchair, the way people view me and other people like me,” explains Waddell.

In addition, Waddell ’s foundation will deliver the gift of mobility by donating funds to a local wheelchair manufacturer in Tanzania.

You can follow his adventure on Outside’s blog. For more information or to support Waddell’s vision, visit One Revolution. Check out Waddell on CBS.

Wandermelon applauds Chris Waddell’s incredible tenacity and vision. Whether he makes it to the top or not we think he is bomba for trying and spreading such an important message!"


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Tort reform and soldiers getting limbs

Posted by Ralph | 7:51 AM

Most of the general population does not truly understand what Tort Reform means or how it might impact their lives. The “reformists” will lead you to believe that “these frivolous lawsuits” and the attorneys who file them are the problem and we need to STOP THEM before they bankrupt this country and continue to clog our court system. They further argue that these cases are the source of the high cost of medical malpractice insurance, not the attorneys or the law suits they file.

On Sunday, September 20, 2009, on 60 Minutes there was a segment on a new bionic arm, the DEKA arm, a $100 million Pentagon program called “Revolutionizing Prosthetics”. American soldiers who lost limbs in various wars were highlighted as they tried out the new prosthetics. The DEKA arm is a huge improvement over what was previously available that was developed during World War II. "Nobody ever wants to put a price tag on making a soldier or a Marine whole again. But, you're talking about $100 million," Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes correspondent remarked. "It's a big number."


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"Henrietta, N.Y. — The ESL Sports Centre is now the official training site of the USA Paralympic Ice Hockey Team and will be hosting three game exhibitions with the Japanese Paralympic team as both teams train for the 2010 Paralympics.

The first practice is Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 3:30 p.m. and 8:10 p.m., and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 11 a.m.

Team USA will play Japan in three exhibition games on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings at 7 p.m.

All practices and exhibition games to be played at the ESL Sports Centre on the Monroe Community College campus at 2700 Brighton-Henrietta Townline Road.

The USA Paralympic Team sled hockey was designed in an effort to allow participants with physical disabilities to play ice hockey. It is currently one of the most popular sports in the Paraylmpic games. The USA team includes 18 players and they are the current World Champions. Visit www.usahockey.com for more information.

The ESL Sports Centre is a multi-purpose arena located on MCC’s campus. Constructed in 1998, it is the home of hockey teams ranging in age from youth to semi-professional. It also offers dry floor events such as car shows, cheerleading competitions, and concerts."


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Cybernetics update. it's a "biter"

Posted by Ralph | 5:52 PM

"Anna Konda, the fire-fighting snake robot has spawned three babies – Aiko, PiKo, and Kulko, which are smarter, more agile, and can take decisions on their own "

"While the US and Japan pursue the development of robots specialised in healthcare, social interaction, and artificial intelligence, scientists at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have for the last six years dedicated their research efforts to create the most advanced snake robots in the world.

“They may be put into pipes in order to locate faults. They can get into strange places, or dangerous ones, like fires. We believe there is a market.” said Erik Kyrkjebo, the lead research scientist at SINTEF. It all started with Anna Konda in 2005, which was based on an idea that a hydraulic system could equip a fire hose to move on its own using strength of the water flow. Anna Konda could crawl into a burning house and put out a fire by itself, and would be capable of climbing stairs, sneaking around corners to perform lifesaving missions.

After four years the team have still not reached their goal, but Anna Konda has had three babies since – Aiko, PiKo, and Kulko.

The family has grown because the robot scientists needed more knowledge that could be transferred back to the original model.Aiko just weighs seven kilos as compared to Anna Konda’s 75, and serves as a experimental platform for testing mathematical equations and new electronic components.PiKo, the climbing robot differs from the other members of the snake family in that it moves on wheels, although, like its siblings, it is jointed. Specialised in vertical movement, it can climb up tubes, and propel its way up a pipe-wall.

The cybernetics experts have been working on its propulsion system, while optics researchers have given the little robot “vision”. A 3D camera, combined with map and position recognition enable it to compare the two parametres to check whether it is on the right track.“PiKo is designed to be able to cleanse ventilation systems and check leakages in pipework with diameters as small as 20 cm, both vertically and at junctions,” explains Jens Thielemann, scientist at Sintef.Now Kulko has arrived and will function as a platform for implementation.“Kulko is not quite as stupid as the others,” says Erik.

This robot is fitted with power sensors that measure all its contacts with its environment. This enables it to adapt its progress according to what it “feels”, and it has the potential to become more intelligent and learn to make its own decisions, according to its tutors.For the scientists at NTNU, it’s not sufficient for the robot to be just capable of moving forward and getting past obstacles. It also needs to be able to move independently around in its surroundings.In order to do so, the robot needs to compare the visual impressions that it captures with images and memories in its “experience base”, the researchers said.

The database would house the memory and decision-making circuitry and interpretation of sensor-data. In the database, maps and images are connected up to create an action that the robot has been trained to perform. When it checks whether it has seen a particular image before, and the answer is positive, the appropriate action immediately takes place"

Thats beyond cool. Imagine a camera fit - miniaturized version able to be fit on a human mounted application and able to "snake" it's way into all kinds of places. Cars, plumbing, especially, and in a fitting way complex electrical work. It's great and I'm looking forward to future versions.

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"PARK CITY, Utah – For Monte Meier (Park City, UT), this summer has been all about listening to his body. Plagued with cartilage problems in his knee, Meier has spent the past few months at the Center of Excellence recovering.

"I've spent a lot of time on the bike this summer. I had some issues with my knee, just kind of getting a little old and warn out with some cartilage issues," Meier said. "I've tried to spend a lot of time on the bike whether it's a mountain bike, road bike, or stationary bike."

Meier shows no signs of discouragement, though. Taking time off snow in stride Meier is ready for winter and is excited to get in the gate.

"At this point, because of my knee, I didn't partake in any of the summer camps this year. I've been off snow for the whole summer. It was a tough decision the doctor and I made, but in the end I'm feeling really strong right now," says Meier. "I feel like my batteries have been recharged. I'm really anxious to get on snow.”

A veteran on the adaptive Team, Meier is hoping to make his fifth appearance in the 2010 Vancouver Paralympics in March. Approaching the season, Meier has made some adjustments to his game plan in hopes of hanging a medal around his neck.

"Strategies have changed a little bit, this will be my nineteenth season, and I learned to work smarter not harder on some things and know when I should push and when I should back off. The hardest part for me is to take it easy," admits Meier. "It's a matter of listening to my body more and not over working it, but at the same time work to get to the level I want to be when I'm competing."

With all Meier's hard work he is confident that this season will be a success and is looking forward to Vancouver.

"I feel confident about where I am this season, the conditioning that I've been doing all summer, and I'm anxious to get at it," states Meier. "My goal is basically to stay healthy. Ultimately, of course, I would like to end my career on the podium, but to make that a reality I need to make sure that I'm diligent about taking care of my body, listening to my body, taking time off when I need to, hitting it hard when I need to."

Meier is finishing up the summer, with some plyometrics and agility drills in order to make a sound return back on snow this fall. However, Meier can't help but to look ahead.

"Just anxious for the 2010 Paralympics," stresses Meier"


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Injured soldier sprinting back to sports

Posted by Ralph | 1:19 PM

"The decision came only days after Jerrod Fields, a United States Army corporal on a 2005 reconnaissance mission in Baghdad, had his left ankle and foot mutilated by a roadside bomb. After managing to drive his four troopmates back to base — valor that earned him a Bronze Star — Fields woke up in a hospital in Germany with a choice: have surgery and be discharged, or amputate and stay a soldier."

"Librado Romero/The New York Times
Jerrod Fields became a top prospect after losing his lower left leg to an injury sustained in Iraq.

“Cut it off,” he said he told doctors. “I want to go back to Iraq.”

But the next medal Fields accepts could come in London. Four years after taking his first tentative steps on a prosthetic foot, Fields now sprints so fast that he is considered a top United States prospect for the 2012 Paralympic Games — someone who just might knock off Oscar Pistorius of South Africa.

“From the moment I started walking,” Fields said recently, “I was ready to run.”

Fields belongs to the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, which allows soldiers to train for the Olympics and the Paralympics while on active duty. Trading Army green for Paralympic red, white and blue would cap Fields’s rise from Chicago-project orphan and gang hopeful to hero soldier and elite athlete.

Fields, 27, grew up in a South Side neighborhood he recalled as “flooded with gangs and drugs” and hazed in negativity. His mother died of lung cancer when he was 5. His father was shot and killed when he was 11.

“They said he was murdered outside of our home in Chicago,” Fields said. “Six shots, I think. It was intentional — it was something planned. We never found out the killer or why it happened. Anything.”

Fields became a fringe member of the Gansta Disciples but focused enough on sports and school to attend Tennessee State University for two years. He then enlisted in the Army and was deployed to Iraq in January 2005. A month later, reports of a dead dog on a Baghdad road — animal carcasses were often booby-trapped with explosives — led his platoon to drive in to investigate.

The dog itself was harmless, but still a trap. A small bomb went off nearby. Fields laughed; he thought he had dropped a grenade. Then another explosion destroyed his lower left leg.

Fields kept his wits enough to drive his Bradley armored vehicle and fellow troops out of danger. But when he eventually came to in a hospital in Germany, he was so disoriented that he tried to choke his nurse. (“The last thing I remembered was fighting,” he said.) Doctors explained what had happened, and told Fields they could rebuild his leg by grafting muscle and fusing his ankle.

“With that type of injury, there’s nothing you can do,” Fields said, alluding to the active combat he preferred. “It would have done me more harm mentally trying to get back out there and seeing that I couldn’t do it. So I went with just getting it amputated. Everything that hurts now is gone.

“And it would have been around now that I would be just starting recovery. I would have just been getting crutches, just getting out of bed. And I’ve had an active four years since this happened.”

Indeed, Fields acclimated to a prosthetic foot so quickly that he found himself barely missing the real one. He ran swiftly and even did standing backflips. Fields had never heard of the Paralympics at that point, but a fellow soldier suggested that he apply to the World Class Athlete Program. Two days before being redeployed to Iraq in August 2007 — he had worked himself back into combat shape — Fields was accepted and immediately stunned his new coach, Al Joyner.

“He’s a baby — he’d never run any track,” said Joyner, the former Olympic gold medalist who works with Paralympic and able-bodied sprinters and jumpers at the United States Olympic training facility in Chula Vista, Calif. “He’s made leaps and bounds with his mechanics. When he learns more about his body, he’s going to explode.”

Within a year, Fields was running 100 meters in 12 seconds flat. Running that fast on a Cheetah foot, a long, carbon-fiber blade that mimics the spring and power of the human lower leg, required Fields to understand the unique demands of amputee sprinting. His hip flexors had to learn to balance legs of different weights and feet of different lengths. The nerve receptors in the stump below his knee had to figure out how to sense the track beneath his artificial foot.

“I was there the first day Jerrod ran, and he went boom, right on his face,” said Marlon Shirley, a two-time gold medalist in the Paralympic 100 meters who also trains in Chula Vista. “For him to run 12 flat in such a short amount of time, less than two years, that blows me away.

“The thing about Jerrod is his spirit and love for life. His spirit is probably bigger than anybody I’ve ever met before. It’s infectious. He’s the type of person you want to emulate because of how much he loves life.”

Decreasing his time to 11.2 or 11.3 seconds, which would get him to the Games, will be even harder than running 12 this soon, Shirley warned. But the top United States sprinter Brian Frasure has retired, and Shirley has sustained major knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries. So Fields and the Paralympic veteran Jerome Singleton could become the top United States hopes to run an 11.1 or lower, which could beat Pistorius, a double-amputee who runs so fast on two Cheetah feet that he almost qualified for the Olympic 400 meters.

Joyner said Fields could ultimately run faster than Shirley — the most decorated United States track-and-field Paralympian — in his prime. Shirley said that was possible, too, if Fields could learn the nuances of top-caliber sprinting and then perform in now-or-never competition. The indoor season begins next month.

“We don’t know what’s in us until we get the opportunity that pulls it out of us,” Fields said. What drove that vehicle out of Baghdad could drive him straight to London"

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Super music and great clips. BTW.....It's not today, it's on July 12th.

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"TRYING to buy a packet of discount biscuits was a whole new adventure for Ron Bishop Thursday as he took part in the Disability Action Week Shopping Challenge at Hinkler Central.

Usually towering over displays and able to reach top shelves with ease, Mr Bishop discovered that for people in wheelchairs, a trip to buy the weekly groceries can present a minefield of obstacles.

“I was sent out to get the home-brand TimTams, and all the home-brand stuff was on the top shelf where I couldn't reach,” Mr Bishop said.

“All the expensive products were right at eye level, but I was on a budget.”

The experience might have been an unusual one for the competitors, but it is an everyday fact of life for people like Chris Grimes who need a wheelchair to get around.

Mr Grimes struggles to reach some items at the shops, but also finds it hard to read prices and displays which are not at the right level.

Other community members were mentored through their shopping trips while using earplugs to simulate deafness, and goggles for vision impairment.

Even seemingly simple tasks became a struggle when it came time for a contestant with “visual impairment” to buy a can of Heinz tomato soup - and could not tell the different brands apart.

YMCA Bundaberg chief executive officer Ian Rowan found some people lost patience with him as he carried out his shopping expedition in a hearing-impaired state.

“A few picked up that I couldn't hear, and gave me things to read, but a lot of people just talked over me to my support worker,” Mr Rowan said.

“Deafness is a disability that is really difficult, because people don't pick up on it quickly and they can be quite impatient.”

A Disability Directory was launched on Wednesday at a morning tea as part of the Disability Action Week events, offering a guide to local services."


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"Logan » A Utah woman is running from Utah's border with Idaho to its border with Arizona to raise money for an organization that helps provide prosthetics for athletes who are amputees.

Lorie Hutchison is running 18 marathons over 18 days. The 45-year-old started her journey on Thursday and is scheduled to finish the 465-mile trip on Oct. 4.

The LifeFlight nurse for Intermountain Healthcare is trying to raise money for San Diego-based Challenged Athletes Foundation, which provides grants for prosthetics and adaptive equipment for athletes who are amputees.

Hutchison also hopes to inspire youth across Utah to exercise more. She is partnering with Intermountain's LiVe campaign and wants children to exercise for 26 minutes for 18 days straight."


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Blind vet looking for '12 Paralympics

Posted by Ralph | 3:52 PM

As Steven Baskis pedals, his right knee stings, his left arm freezes and the vivid colors he loved seeing are covered in darkness. His calming smile still stretches a mile.

“When I question myself,” Baskis said, “I think about my buddy who didn’t make it and some of my other buddies. They’re not going to have the opportunity to live their life.”

The U.S. Army specialist has discovered new meaning to a life that nearly ended, driven by a fast-rising career in road cycling 16 months after an insurgent attack in Iraq left him blind, limited his mobility and damaged his motor skills.

Part of a four-person security patrol, Baskis, 23, of Chicago, was riding inside an armored vehicle in May 2008, when a roadside bomb detonated near Baghdad. It sprayed his body with shrapnel and killed another soldier.

His eyeballs were blown from his sockets. He severed an artery in his left arm, disrupting circulation and causing nerve damage, and his right leg, triggering arthritis and joint pain. Bleeding on his brain required 10-plus surgeries.

Baskis rides with a sighted pilot — his performance this week during a U.S. Association of Blind Athletes camp in Colorado Springs a steppingstone to the 2012 Paralympics.
“I’ve got to push myself when I’m hurting,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of life ahead of me.”

Source - Photo Credit - Kevin Kreck

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Prosthetics update-Hulk handshakes

Posted by Ralph | 8:52 PM

Injured soldiers and people with disabilities might one day benefit from a hydraulic hand that doubles finger strength. Scientists at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory say a "mesofluidic" hand could be used to remotely disarm explosives and manipulate IEDs.

Mesofluidics is the study of applying pea-size hydraulics to applications requiring significant power in a limited space.

(Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratory)So far, the team at the Tennessee laboratory has developed an artificial finger made up of 25 moving parts. It can deliver 20 pounds of pinch force, about double that of a human finger, while remaining lightweight and rugged.

Key innovations were a small, 200 psi hydraulic pump that produces about 30 watts of hydraulic power, as well as miniature high-performance valves that control motion.

The next stage in development is a full hydraulic hand. It could have prosthetic applications similar to DARPA's Revolutionizing Prosthetics Program--described in this "60 Minutes" video--which aims to create an artificial arm with full motor and sensory functions.

Prosthetic technology hasn't advanced much in decades, but current wars and new technologies are changing that. Prosthetics maker OrthoCare Innovations is working with the Oak Ridge team to use mesofluidics for boosting strength in weakened elbows and knees.

But a more intriguing use would be telerobotics. Though robots have been developed for mine detection and disposal, the hydraulic hand could have unparalleled dexterity as a remote-controlled device.

The Oak Ridge scientists are designing a glove with a mesofluidic exoskeleton that will be linked to a remote hydraulic hand with force feedback. Users would be able to roughly feel what the remote hand is manipulating.

That might save some lives--and prevent some expensive robots from getting blown up.

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Loosing limbs doesn't mean stop living

Posted by Ralph | 8:37 PM

Alcohol cost Cameron Clapp both legs and his right arm eight years ago but it could not prevent him from dancing in front of students in a St. Ursula Academy classroom Thursday.

The 23-year-old California native, in Cincinnati to mentor other double-leg amputees at University and Shriners hospitals, delivered a heart-felt and unflinching presentation to two sophomore health classes at the East Walnut Hills high school.

"Impossible is an opinion, not a fact," said Clapp, wearing blue shorts and a short-sleeved golf shirt to reveal his prosthetic legs and arm.

Accompanied by video, still photographs and audio, he detailed his injury, recovery and interests and challenged the students to set goals, overcome obstacles and reap the benefits of positive choices and realize the consequences of negative ones - messages all rendered genuinely.

"He never lost his California surfer-dude attitude," was what impressed Lauren Harper, a St. Ursula sophomore from Golf Manor.

The first obstacle he had to overcome, Clapp said, was his parents' divorce, even before his accident. He showed a photograph of his family, including identical twin brother Jesse.

"He's a good-looking guy," Cameron said.

The brothers were active, playing soccer and baseball and surfing and running in their hometown of Pismo Beach.

But they made a bad choice Sept. 15, 2001. They were 15 at the time and went out for a night of under-aged drinking. They got home, "intoxicated," he said, and decided to walk to the beach, crossing railroad tracks they'd crossed thousands of times.

"I didn't hear or see the train," Clapp said. "The train took me out." It cut off both legs and his right arm, the dominant one he wrote, ate and threw with.

His head and organs were not injured.

"It is a miracle that I survived and can recognize the consequences of my actions," he said.

The first doctor treating him told Clapp and his family that the teen-ager never would walk again.

"We bailed on that dude," he said.

He showed a photograph of himself bandaged and in bed. Then, he showed one with his stumps and scars uncovered.

"That image will stay with me," said St. Ursula sophomore Katie Woebkenberg of Montgomery. "To see him now, you realize how far he has come."

The family found a doctor and a company that could help him. Hanger Prosthetics & Orthotics, which custom-made prosthetic legs that fit Clapp's residual leg limbs, cut off right above the knee. The process was slow and especially arduous, perhaps the most difficult period in his recovery. His doctor and therapists told him that for him to truly learn to walk he would have to give up use of his wheelchair.

"Ditched it," Clapp said as he clicked on a photograph of himself on the beach at sunset, his artificial legs silhouetted and the wheelchair overturned at his side.

"I fell right after this picture was taken," he said, laughing.

Sophomore Sophie Rupp of White Oak was inspired by the photograph. "That's when it seemed he turned his life around," she said.

Clapp would fall many times. He showed video of himself tumbling off his new legs but getting back up. He had to walk backward up ramps and inclines at first. Clapp smiled and laughed at himself in the video.

"I could never have done that," said Abbie Grause, a St. Ursula sophomore from Cleves.

Hanger Prosthetics, which sponsors many of Clapp's trips and presentations, developed multiple legs for him, including ones with a microchip in the knee that allow him to set the knees in various positions that allow, among other activities, him to drive a car without hand controls and run.

"Got to be able to trust the knee to be there," he said while running from one corner of the classroom to another. "I can do things without thinking about it."

Custom-made flippers and a paddle at the end of his artificial arm allow him to swim, which addressed the problem of muscle atrophy on the right side of his upper body.

Initially, his father, a surfer, had tossed him in a pool without prosthetic limbs. With flippers and the paddle, Cameron Clapp has since completed swims of 1.2 and 1.4 miles in triathlons for athletes with disabilities.

"Charged out into the ocean like a little seal," he said.

He likes to golf, paint, play music as a disc-jockey and act. He has met and befriended actors Will Farrell and Robin Williams. Clapp landed a bit part in the film "Stop Loss," in which he plays pool with a wounded soldier. He was featured in an episode of the television series "My Name is Earl," in which he played a double-amputee boyfriend. of a single-amputee woman whose car was stolen by Earl. Clapp's character runs down Earl and beats him with a political yard sign.

"Good things, extraordinary things, have happened to me," he said. "My good choices have resulted in rewards that are priceless."

He is in contact and has mentored other amputees, including U.S. soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. One wounded soldier, who loved to hike, resigned himself to life in a wheelchair. Clapp met him and has become a friend. He showed video of the two men negotiating trails over rocks on their artificial legs.

"He doesn't own a chair any more," Clapp said.

His next goal is to learn to cycle.

Running always has been a passion.

Clapp runs the 100 meters in 17 seconds - a time that is improving, he said - on specially designed sprint feet that feature ultra-lightweight hydraulic knee units.

"Like flying," he said.

His athletic achievements won Clapp the 2005 Shining Star honor from Just One Break Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in part by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1947 to recognize a person for overcoming a disability. Past winners include singer Ray Charles and actor Christopher Reeve.

At the end of his presentation, Clapp showed a film clip of himself running a 400-meter race in the Endeavor Games for disabled athletes. He trailed in the sprint and tripped trying to make up ground, landing hard on his left shoulder and head. He struggled to get up two or three times before finally rising to his feet. He finished the race.

"I got `er done," he said.

His twin, Jesse, Cameron continued, didn't.

"He tripped and fell down (in January 2008) and couldn't get back up," Clapp said. "He got into drugs and over-dosed. It killed him.

"That's reality. If you make bad choices bad things will happen. Jesse never got to learn from his mistake. I have been able to."

He made this appeal to students, the same one he made on previous stops this week at a hospital and two high schools in Columbus.

"Don't beat yourself up," Clapp said of inevitable mistakes. "But now is the time of your lives when you are vulnerable. The choices you make affect everybody close to you. My brother is not with me physically. He is in here."

(The Enquirer/Gary Landers)

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