When Will Prosthetics Enable Swimming?

When Will Prosthetics Enable Swimming?

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

The prosthetic industry is coming out with all kinds of new, lightweight, mobile technologies and composite materials that emulate missing muscle and tendon function. Walking, running and cycling have all become easier and possible for many individuals with missing limbs.

The technologies help individuals use lower metabolic energies, reach faster speeds, experience lower joint stresses, and go much further than ever before.

While athletes in land-based sports have received the benefit of these prosthetic foot, ankle, knee and leg technologies, materials and devices, we wonder if or when the prosthetic industry will help individuals swim better, easier, further and faster.

Will the prosthetics enable improved speeds, distance and buoyancy? Will future flexible hand, arm and shoulder joints, waterproof microprocessors, and technologies help provide a suitable range of movement, propulsion and versatility that will enable individual to swim, both in the pool and open water? Will future technologies be buoyant enough, lightweight enough, and adaptable enough to swim butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke and freestyle as well as eggbeatering and sighting? How much energy will be required by the amputees to kick or to pull through the water? Can the surface area of hands be enlarged or the ability to swim with a higher stroke rate or more efficient arm stroke be achieved?

What kind of creative solutions will be develop throughout the remainder of the 21st century?

We wonder.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones