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Prosthet Orthot Int. 2015 Jun;39(3):232-7. doi: 10.1177/0309364614527121. Epub 2014 Apr 1.

The importance of aerodynamics for prosthetic limb design used by competitive cyclists with an amputation: An introduction.

Author information

1
Faculty of Science and Technology, Bournemouth University, Poole, UK brdyer@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Abstract

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVES:

This study introduces the importance of the aerodynamics to prosthetic limb design for athletes with either a lower-limb or upper-limb amputation.

STUDY DESIGN:

The study comprises two elements: 1) An initial experiment investigating the stability of outdoor velodrome-based field tests, and 2) An experiment evaluating the application of outdoor velodrome aerodynamic field tests to detect small-scale changes in aerodynamic drag respective of prosthetic limb componentry changes.

METHODS:

An outdoor field-testing method is used to detect small and repeatable changes in the aerodynamic drag of an able-bodied cyclist. These changes were made at levels typical of alterations in prosthetic componentry. The field-based test method of assessment is used at a smaller level of resolution than previously reported.

RESULTS:

With a carefully applied protocol, the field test method proved to be statistically stable. The results of the field test experiments demonstrate a noticeable change in overall athlete performance. Aerodynamic refinement of artificial limbs is worthwhile for athletes looking to maximise their competitive performance.

CONCLUSION:

A field-testing method illustrates the importance of the aerodynamic optimisation of prosthetic limb components. The field-testing protocol undertaken in this study gives an accessible and affordable means of doing so by prosthetists and sports engineers.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE:

Using simple and accessible field-testing methods, this exploratory experiment demonstrates how small changes to riders' equipment, consummate of the scale of a small change in prosthetics componentry, can affect the performance of an athlete. Prosthetists should consider such opportunities for performance enhancement when possible.

KEYWORDS:

Prostheses; aerodynamics; amputee; paracycling

PMID:
24692061
DOI:
10.1177/0309364614527121
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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