Going to the Winter Paralympics with an innovation from Twente

Paraplegia causes a number of impediments in daily life. Often, an existing auxiliary equipment will help, but not in all cases. At rehabilitation centers, rehabilitation technicians work on smart solutions for individual problems. This time: a ski-adjustment for Linda van Impelen, made at Roessingh Rehabilitation Technology.

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Linda van Impelen, now 31 years years old, has been skiing ever since she was six. When she had a spinal cord injury T12 in a car crash in 2009, her first question was: will I be able to ski? She explains: ‘Luckily I found out soon that this was still possible, through sit-skiing. Outdoor sports in the mountains is the best thing there is and to be honest, I even like sit-skiing more than common skiing. You work with a machine and experience the fast pace and the curves more intense. Meanwhile, I’m not just skiing for fun anymore, but have become a member of the Dutch Paralympic selection for adjusted skiing. Taking part in the Paralympic Winter Games, in 2018, in South Korea, is my goal! I’m aiming to qualify for as many disciplines as possible: slalom, giant slalom, super G and down hill. To achieve this goal, I needed a better seat on my ski, because the one I had wasn’t suited well enough to my body. Slack makes it more difficult to make accurate moves. So I really wanted to get rid of that.’

Descending with 100 kilometers an hour

Orthopaedic technician John-John de Koning: ‘We haven’t been working for the private market for long, but we intend to do so more often. Thereby, we focus predominantly on the manufacture of sport adjustments. To develop a customized seat for Linda was therefore a great challenge.’ All kinds of technical aspects had to be thought through carefully. ‘How strong should the seat be, for example, because Linda goes descends with around 100 kilometers an hour. Making that seat was a complex process. John-John: ‘First we took Linda’s measurements and made negative plaster cast. This is done through the use of plaster bandages that are cut off when dry. Subsequently, the negative plaster cast is sealed again with plaster bandages and is then filled with liquid plaster: the positive plaster cast. The inside dimensions of such a negative cast are always more spacious and therefore, you need to chip off pieces of the model to get to the right size. Then the casting process follows, in which the outside the positive plaster cast is covered with layers of casting resin containing glass and carbon fibers. This combination makes the construction strong. At the moment, we’re working on some small adjustment. For example, the support at flanks is improved to make sure that Linda is capable of absorbing minor imbalances more easily. When it is all finished, we will all wait in suspense for the results in 2018.’

My goal has come closer

Linda: ‘I’ve been skiing with my customized seat for some weeks now and I’m really happy with it. I immediately felt that my expectations have been achieved. There’s a lot more contact with the snow and small moves are now converted into actions. Something that I did have to get used in the first week: I’ve made a couple of head roll. We’re now working on some small adjustment that will optimize everything. But I can already say that my new seat is a success and that my goal for 2018 has come a lot closer because of it!’

Date: 17 January 2017
Source of tekst: Dwarslaesie Magazine
Author: Twente.com

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