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The Benefits Of Prosthetics

By Aaron Miller

It might seem surprising, but it’s absolutely true: it is possible to wear prosthetics and run faster than you could with your own two legs! Not just any old prosthetics, though, but top-of-the-line ultra-modern streamlined stuff that cost eighteen thousand dollars – each.

Such is the case with famed South African runner Oscar Pistorius, a world-class 400-meter specialist who also happens to be a double amputee below the knees. He wears custom-made prostheses called Cheetahs, and it was scientifically determined that they help him so much that he was banned from competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The facts are startling: his prostheses have been found to return energy three times more than a human ankle for a superior boost that never fades, another distinct advantage. Prosthetics, after all, never tire out, giving stead performance stride after stride. Still another improvement over nature is the reduced loss of energy involved when using prostheses – only just over nine percent versus nearly forty-one and a half percent! All these facts are related to the much stiffer nature of a prosthetic. Being stiffer also means that less vertical oscillation is produced.

Then there is the matter of weight. A professional runner’s leg alone can weigh up to twenty pounds (that is, the lower leg, as opposed to the whole limb), whereas each of the two Cheetahs worn by Pistorius weighs just over two pounds apiece. And it indicates that a runner like Pistorius uses a quarter less oxygen than his competitors: no fatiguing, less weight, more energy return, much less energy loss.

As the 21st Century continues to unfold, it’s certain that technological improvements will keep pushing against the definitions of fair competition until perhaps one day the very foundations of sport will take on a character which we nowadays would barely recognize. All hail the brave new world!

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Miller, Aaron "The Benefits Of Prosthetics." The Benefits Of Prosthetics. 8 Jul. 2010. 25 Dec 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Miller, A (2010, July 8). The Benefits Of Prosthetics. Retrieved December 25, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Miller, Aaron "The Benefits Of Prosthetics"

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