College Park Industries Sees Its Prosthetics on the Paralympic Field
Oscar Pistorius’ incredible achievements in athletics have made the maker of his prosthetic feet, Ö
ssur, famous. But Ö
ssur is not alone in the business of helping paralympians propel themselves across the track. College Park Industries (CPI) based in Fraser, Mich., has put prosthetic limbs on many paralympians this year.
The company’s main product, Soleus, was invented by Scott Sulprizo, a hang-glider who lost his foot after an accident in 2001. CPI bought his design about six years ago, and after redesigning it to withstand the company’s rigorous testing requirements, the Soleus was ready to go on the market. CPI’s testing includes putting the foot through 2 million cycles, the equivalent of three to four years of walking.
"[The Soleus] provides a level of smooth transition [in walking] that’s very difficult for other companies to achieve because of the materials they’re using and their design," explained Mike Leydet, director of research at CPI.
CPI uses iPecs (Intelligent Prosthetic Endo-Skeletal Component System), a sensor system that lets researchers collect telemetry from prosthetic users to inform product design and material changes.
"The Achilles heel of competitors is the abrupt transitions between the springs that carry the load of the human body. It’s described by amputees as hitting a wall," said Leydet.
Early in July, CPI announced the release of the Soleus Tactical Edition prosthetic foot. It was specifically designed for Dale Beatty, Iraq combat wounded veteran, bilateral amputee and co-founder of Purple Heart Homes, a national non-profit organization based in Springfield, Va.
The Tactical Soleus is engineered and manufactured in the Unites States. The main achievement of the new design, claims CPI, is that it is 40 percent stronger and 10 percent lighter than previous models. CPI achieved this by coring out the aluminum housing and redesigning the front and back, reducing and redistributing mass. It has a new heel spring design for higher cyclic durability, and a new mid spring design for higher ultimate strength. This is combined with a new belt attachment system for higher tensile strength.
CPI has also pledged $200 from every sale to the Purple Hearts Home.
In this year’s Paralympics, Matt Brown of the United States will throw the discus on his Soleus foot, and Maya Nakanishi will represent Japan on her Soleus in her track and field events.
In a letter to CPI, Brown said: "I am surprised by the durability of the springs. I weigh 270 pounds and put a considerable amount of stress on the foot. The Soleus has upheld its strength and flexion, and if anyone could put the Soleus to the test, it would be me.”