Sunday, July 27, 2008

Extremity Games this week in Michigan

FOX News reports that about 80 athletes with artificial limbs registered to participate in the Extremity Games that begin Aug. 1 near Detroit. Events include rock climbing, mountain biking and motocross racing, martial arts, skateboarding, wakeboarding and kayaking.

The Extremity Games started three years ago when customers buying artificial feet from Michigan-based College Park Industries asked for prostheses that could withstand more intense activities, said Beth Geno, one of the Games' co-founders and a former College Park employee.

"We had been hearing from so many of our users that they have the Paralympics, they have the events that offer track and field, but not the extreme sports. A lot of people had come more into that lifestyle," said Geno.

Lighter and stronger materials, quick-release connections and components that can be adjusted for different activities have changed the perception of what's difficult for amputees with artificial limbs to do, said Dan Cox, College Park's national sales manager.

Adaptations once only seen at the Paralympics are trickling down to amateurs expecting similar effects in hobbies like skateboarding and mundane activities such as chasing the family dog, Cox said. The company developed a more flexible prosthetic foot to meet such demand.

"Skateboarders were wearing that type of foot, also, because they have to flex when they get down and use different angles," he said.