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Neptune: A New Prosthetic Fin

Fit and athletic amputees – like sprinter/long-jumper Aimee Mullins – have proved over and over that the loss of a limb is no reason to give up sports. Earlier this year, Colombian Nelson Cardona became the first amputee to climb Mt. Everest, Earth’s highest peak.

But prostheses for swimmers have remained clunky, at best.

That’s why Richard Stark, an industrial design student at Sweden’s Umea Institute of Design, was inspired to create Neptune, a specially-designed prosthesis that helps amputees swim.

An early sketch

The colorful but functional superflipper was built with competitive swimmers in mind, providing enough resistance for training and plenty of flexibility to maneuver in the water.

The limb rests in an adjustable cup-shaped holder, and the fin itself consists of a rigid center strip and two flexible flaps. The flaps can be adjusted to require different degrees of muscle power. The fin also rotates 90 degrees so it can accommodate side kicks for breaststroke and up-and-down motions for freestyle, backstroke and butterfly.

The final design

Throughout the design process, Stark consulted with competitive amputee swimmers to make sure that Neptune fit their needs. And judging from this video, it works swimmingly:

Images courtesy Richard Stark

3 Responses to “Neptune: A New Prosthetic Fin”

  1. […] Prof. Lisa Pruitt on one engineering professor’s efforts with prosthetic limbs. See also our Egfi article on a prosthetic “fin” for swimmers and an October 2010 Prism feature on […]

  2. Looks good good job.

  3. is this for sale yet and can a double amputee use one on each leg?

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