Innovative prosthetic leg propels wearers through water as if it were their real limb

northwell health swimming prosthetic
Photo by Northwell Health
With modern advancements in prosthetic design, more people are able to continue walking despite missing one or two legs. These new limbs allow people to carry on, making it less of a disability and more of a unique quality. While designs mastered walking on land, moving through water remained a challenge. However, a new breakthrough from Northwell Health changed that, allowing a former Marine to not just simply wade in water but to efficiently swim in it, as well.

Northwell’s new project is essentially the first fully functional prosthetic swim leg. While this isn’t to say other legs won’t operate in water, it’s that they typically don’t add much of a benefit to the wearer — in other words, they tend to act more like an anchor. Instead, Northwell’s prosthetic actually propels users through water as if it were their original limb.

The new leg features a jet-black foot and a nonslip tread on its sole. Designer Todd Goldstein even crafted some components of the prosthetic using a 3D printer — for instance, one part of it is an upside down triangle of nylon and plastic located where the calf would be. This is what provides extra propulsion through the water, while cone-shaped holes allow some water to pass through so it doesn’t overpower the natural limb.

As mentioned above, Northwell tabbed former Marine Dan Lasko to put the limb through its paces.

“It feels good,” Lasko told the The New York Times after his first lap. “I can definitely feel the difference but I just have to get used to the bit of extra weight.”

Already, Goldstein has a few tweaks to make. During testing, the foot filled with water, creating an unfavorable amount of drag — Goldstein’s thinking is to add a series of holes to help release it. Additionally, the 3D-printed triangle fell off during testing, showing its need for a stronger adhesive in future models. Still, Lasko emerged from the tests pleased with the limb.

“I haven’t done that in years,” he said. “I felt good and free.”

Swimming is a beneficial exercise for many amputees. Higher impact exercises such as running or jumping lead to blisters or deeper tissue wounds but laps in a pool are gentle on the skin. According to Eric Feinstein, a manager at Northwell Ventures, the final prosthetic plans to become available in the next six months. The cost intends to range between $2,000 and $5,000, depending on specific client customization.

Product Review

‘Let’s Go Pikachu’ and ‘Let’s Go Eevee’ feel like true ‘Pokémon Go’ RPGs

Pokémon: Let’s Go’s simplified reimagining of Pokémon Yellow has a great balance of old and new mechanics. It has a streamlined approach that makes it easy to get into, but depth remains for longtime fans.
Smart Home

The best washing machines make laundry day a little less of a chore

It takes a special kind of person to love doing laundry, but the right machine can help make this chore a little easier. Check out our picks for the best washing machines on the market right now.

The best PS3 games of all time

Choosing the right PlayStation 3 game can be a conundrum, especially when there are nearly 1,500 titles to choose from. Thankfully, we've rounded up the best games to have ever made it to the platform.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how the InSight mission to Mars will confirm its landing to NASA

NASA's InSight mission has sent a lander to Mars. NASA researchers have now shared details on how they will monitor the touching down of the lander at the end of its 91 million mile journey.
Emerging Tech

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Put down your keycard! More people are turning to implanted RFID chips as their choice of workplace identification. Should we be worried about a world in which employees get microchipped?

‘Super magnesium’ may be the next wonder material for outdoor gear

Super Magnesium is a wonder material that is 30 percent lighter than aluminum, as strong as carbon fiber, cheaper to make, and 100-percent recyclable, making it much better for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Forget joysticks — the Guts Game is controlled by a sensor that you swallow

Researchers have created an unusual new game in which players swallow a biosensor and then compete to raise or lower the temperature in their gut. Sound crazy? Here's why it could catch on.
Emerging Tech

Step inside the Nepalese restaurant staffed by robot waiters

A robotics startup from Nepal has created a robot waiter called Ginger. It's capable of delivering food from kitchen to table, and can even engage customers in a bit of friendly banter as it does so.
Emerging Tech

Doctors could soon ditch stitches and seal skin wounds with lasers

Just like the dermal regenerator in Star Trek, physicians may soon be able to heal skin wounds using smart, laser-based technology. That's thanks to researchers from Arizona State University.
Emerging Tech

From tornado flushes to remote controls, modern toilets are flush with tech

With the global observance of World Toilet Day on November 19, we take a look at how the modern toilet in our homes and businesses have evolved, and how they are becoming smarter tools in the future.
Emerging Tech

NASA selects the all-important landing site for its Mars 2020 rover mission

NASA said on Monday that the landing site for its much-anticipated Mars 2020 rover mission has the potential to "revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life."
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘space wheat’ is helping earthbound farmers grow crops quicker

Could NASA technology for growing plants on other planets help farmers improve crop yield here on Earth? According to researchers in Australia and the U.K., the answer is a resounding yes.