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Though this isn’t quite robotic, as a rock climber, I have to share this beautifully designed prosthesis by Kai Lin, an industrial design student at the Pratt Institute. This will, once the final prototype is made, hopefully also move toward a myoelectric limb, as many prosthetics will. KLIPPA is a 3D printed prosthetic designed based on the anatomy of a mountain goat,  It is a prosthesis designed for amputee rock climbers, and though the final prototype is not yet formed and is yet to be tested clinically, the design is mostly in place.

If you are an active person who relies on exercise and movement to exist and feel normal, the devastation with an injury leading to amputation is not just the loss of basic functions such as walking and standing. The loss is the inability to participate in the physical activities on which you rely on to feel balanced and relieve stress.  Rock climbing is athletic and mental; physically challenging while requiring upper and lower body strength, and mentally strategic in planning the route in order to ascend.

Rock climbing requires heavily on grip and pressure of the toes; most prosthetics have a bulky and functional forefoot that does not meet these requirements. In order to move upward between footholds, you must push forcefully through the front of the foot.  The KLIPPA takes this into consideration and features an ankle joint with an internal spring for shock, a small contact surface so that climbers can fit onto holds and in wedges, and a hoof-like sole to provide stability. Replaceable rubber shoes and shin guards place into consideration different climbing conditions, as well as the wear and tear of the contact surfaces.

I find it especially moving that this design was created after Mr. Lin found that rock climbing is the top choice of sport for veteran amputees. Please visit his page to see his sketches and other details of this thoughtful project.

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