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Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Science |

Oscar Pistorius and prostheses faster

Oscar Pistorius and prostheses faster


This Saturday, (25), the runner whose were amputated, will participate in the 400 meter flat s in the Olympics. It will be a race that will not go unnoticed and has not been excenta controversial: it is the first time a double amputee with prosthetic faces corridors “normal” world elite in the Olympics.

Amputee Pistorius was when she was only 11 months because he was born without the fibula in his legs. However, since young was sports, devoting himself to rugby as a teenager and in 2004 began to run, competing this year at the Athens Paralympics.

In 2011, after participating in a series of races with normal runners, reaching its best time of 45.07 seconds in 400 meters, was included on the Olympic team in South Africa.

Should Pistorius be allowed to or not? Are your legs an advantage or disadvantage? Are questions that have recurred repeatedly. Anyway, we see their performance on Saturday in his first presentation, and then on August 9 in the 4 X 400 relay team of South Africa.

Legs sharp

Pistorius has been dubbed “Blade Runner” for his as knives, designed by the Finnish company Ossu. The “Cheetah” are tailor-made, made of carbon fiber, designed especially for sports.

“The prosthesis is designed to mimic the action of the anatomical joint foot / ankle of the runners and help offset the limited user physiology,” says the website. They were invented in 1997 and since then several of the top racers have used disabled.

“When a user is running, the curve” J “of the prosthesis is compressed on impact, energy and storing absrobiendo stress levels that otherwise would be absorbed by the ankle, knee, hip and lower back. At the end of the stage, the “J curve” back to its original shape, releasing the stored energy and propelling the user forward, “explains Ossu.

Does this mean an advantage? Pistorius A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2010 said that “there is insufficient evidence to conclude that modern prostheses to run specific physiological or biomechanical provide advantages over biological legs.”

The study found that Pistorius is “mechanically similar but physiologically different” from someone who runs with normal legs. Their oxygen consumption is the same as that of runners with normal legs, but his body moves differently to accommodate the use of prostheses.

This study allowed Pistorius be allowed to participate to see if classified the 2008 in Beijing. However, fell short of the classification by 0.7 seconds.

One of the most debated points on the legs is the time it takes to reposition Pistorius. An average elite runner moves his leg back to front in 0.37 seconds. Pistorius can do this in just 0.28 seconds, because the prostheses are lighter than regular human leg. “However, the notion that lightweight prostheses are the only reason for the speed of ignores the fact that Pistorius has had many years to train and adapt their neuromuscular system to use the prosthesis,” says the paper.


The site explains that the Cheetah prosthetics is not a leg “bionic”. “The bionic legs typically incorporate artificial intelligence, including sensors, microprocessors, and sometimes even assisted movement engines and deliver real-time adjustments to the user, based on feedback captured by his gait.”

That is, Pistorius must still use their lungs to breathe, food to get energy, force the rest of your muscles to propel.

But beyond the prosthesis or not, there is something beyond and perhaps should be considered in the Olympic spirit. Pistorius is an athlete, and has worked all their lives to be at an excellent level, despite the lack of his legs.

Cheetah (Ossu)
Should Oscar Pistorius’ Prosthetic legs disqualify him from the Olympics? (Scientific American)
Counterpoint: Artificial legs do not artificially fast running speeds make possible (Journal of Applied Physiology)

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