Why are basketball wheelchairs bent

Paralympics | Prosthesis expert "The advantages and disadvantages cancel each other out"

The biomechanic Dr. Steffen Willwacher from the Sports University in Cologne works intensively on prostheses for top Paralympic athletes.

In an interview with Tobias Altehenger, he explains the current state of the art and explains whether the performances of Olympic and Paralympic athletes can be compared.

SWR.de: How much high-tech is there in the prostheses of the Paralympic top athletes?
Dr. Steffen Willwacher: "Meanwhile a lot, although it has to be said that no electronics are built into the prostheses. We find high-tech primarily in the material. A lot has been made of carbon for around 20 years. Carbon is very light on the one hand, but on the other hand also very elastic, which is particularly suitable for running. "

Many athletes sit in wheelchairs, what about in this area?
"There is a trend in wheelchairs that is somewhat reminiscent of the development of racing bicycles. The aim here is to develop devices that are also very light on the one hand, but also very stiff on the other. If the wheelchair were to bend, energy would go away lost that the athlete needs to pick up speed. "

How difficult is it for athletes to handle their prosthesis?
"It takes a lot of practice because a prosthesis does not give any sensory feedback. You have to imagine it this way: In our legs and feet there are sensors that give feedback to our movement control. This is not the case with prostheses. On special prostheses For runners, one cannot stand still at all because the prostheses are too elastic for that. Athletes who have amputated on both sides therefore always have to tap from one leg to the other. Even when they run with them, the prosthesis places high demands on balance. "

How much do you have to trust your device as an athlete, how much do you have to want to merge with your prosthesis?
"That also plays a very important role. I have to learn to trust my device and not be afraid that the prosthesis will break - but this can happen with high loads. Tremendous forces act on the prosthesis when running and especially during long jump . "

In the case of the long jumper Markus Rehm from Göppingen, there are always discussions about whether his prosthesis might represent a competitive advantage. How do you see it
"In the spring we carried out a large-scale study that showed that athletes like Markus Rehm have considerable disadvantages when starting up because they cannot pick up speed so quickly. When jumping, however, there are advantages: When Markus Rehm jumps, his body almost loses no energy. This is different to athletes who jump off their biological leg. Overall, we are of the opinion that these advantages and disadvantages cancel each other out. "

So should athletes like Markus Rehm also be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games?
"In order to make the Paralympic sport better known, I would find it very important if athletes with prostheses also competed in the Olympic Games. However, you have to see that the jumping technique that Markus Rehm uses would not be possible with a biological leg. One joint evaluation would therefore not be fair in my opinion. "

So no clear advantage, no clear disadvantage, but there is no comparability?
"Exactly."

As of August 30, 2016, 3:49 p.m.