Paralympic track sprinters are slowed by curves
A study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder shows that during the sprawling Paralympic sprinter curves using left leg prostheses slow down more athletes with right leg amputation – a drawback that could cost them dearly in official competition.
The study showed that the lower Amputee the left leg that circulates in indoor track lane ran 4 percent slower than athletes with right leg amputations. On this basis, the researchers calculate a difference of 0.2 seconds in a 200-meter outdoor race, said Paolo Taboga, a research scientist at the University of Colorado, the study’s lead author.
“What surprised me most is the great effect running on the inner lane of the curve has had in the Paralympic elite sprinters,” said the Department of Integrative Physiology Taboga. “A 4% reduction in speed in a competitive sprint test could mean the difference between a gold medal and any medal at all.”
An article by Taboga and CU-Boulder Professors Rodger Kram and Alena Grabowski, both in the Department of Integrative Physiology, was published in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
For the study, the research team at the University of Colorado has taken 11 Paralympic supporters in the front or rear, men and women from the United States and Germany, and six non-amputated sprinters. Participants were timed and filmed running on a straight section of an inner oval track, running on the curve in the opposite direction of the clock (standard protocol for track and field races) and the current curve on the Direction of the clock.
The Paralympic sprinters in the study carried their own J-shaped prostheses of carbon fiber similar to those used by former Olympic and Paralympic Oscar Pistorius. The athletes were filmed with a high-speed video camera that records their movements at a rate of 210 frames per second.
Research has indicated that the performance of Paralympic sprinters has been compromised by their reduced ability to generate sufficient force with the left denture of the left prosthetic current in the opposite direction of the clock inside a track curve, said Taboga. Athletes have a shorter stride frequency and a longer “contact time” between the blade and the surface of the track, and have failed to compensate by using faster connection times, he said.
Taboga suggested that, in order for the races to be fairer Paralympic sprites, the left leg amputation running on a curve should be able to circulate in the outer lanes, perhaps five to eight lanes. He said that ultimately help design lower-prosthetic more effective for use not only for athletes, but for all people with leg amputations who seek to be more active and improve their quality of life.