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A prosthetic knee for extreme athletes

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Three competitors in the Summer X Games -- ESPN’s extreme sports event -- will be wearing a prosthesis design to return amputees to an extreme level of function. Businessweek reports.

Moto Knee, from Biodapt in Pillager, Minnesota, uses hydraulic components to provide the strength and agility needed for intense physical activity, from skiing to mountain biking.

  1. For better range of motion, the linkage system provides resistance when the knee is flexed up to 135 degrees -- about the position of a leg squatting on a bike or snowmobile. Many other artificial legs only allow a range of 90 degrees.
  2. For improved tension, its mountain-bike shocks add resistance. The aluminum and steel leg keeps the mechanized muscles clenched -- which is necessary for riding -- rather than loose, like when you're walking.

The device sells for $6,000, and the company has sold 75 so far, mostly to athletes and wounded veterans.

Biodapt founder Mike Schultz used the first Moto Knee to replace the leg he lost in a 2008 competitive snowmobiling accident. Here’s a video of Schultz’s story. He’ll be competing in a motocross race for amputees at the X Games in Los Angeles.


Images: Biodapt

— By on July 16, 2013, 5:36 AM PST

Janet Fang

Contributing Editor

Janet Fang has written for Nature, Discover and the Point Reyes Light. She is currently a lab technician at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. She holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and Columbia University. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure