What it does
Inspired by mountain goats' exceptional climbing ability, KLIPPA is a prosthetic leg designed specifically for amputee rock climbers. Its unique features allow amputees to climb securely and comfortably.
Before I started this project I would go online and watch a lot of news about wounded soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan and they suffered not only from mental trauma but had a lot of physical challenges, a lot of soldiers were from a very physically active background and suddenly losing that mobility is a quite a change in their lifestyle. That inspired me to design something for them so they can enjoy the sports they used to love. Currently prosthetic legs are mostly designed for walking, but they are not for climbers; they lack the flexibility, articulation and small footprint required for rock climbing. I saw a great design opportunity in this field and decided to design a prosthetic leg for both amputee veterans and amputee patients who would like to give rock climbing a try.
How it works
KLIPPA has four major features that help amputee climbers overcome their disadvantages: 1. The first feature is a small shoe with a pointy toe and a textured heel. The shoe is about half the size of an average human foot, which makes it easier for user to stand on small surfaces securely with strong grip. Climber can apply the pointy toe to wedge their foot and perform heel strike with the textured heel. 2.The bottom of the sole is inspired by mountain goats’ hoof structure. Under pressure, The hoof like sole contracts and pushes outward, separating the two parts with deep grooves. This structure helps converting downward force into lateral force, saving energy for climbers. 3. Rubber surface creates strong traction, but it wears out easily. The shoe and shin guard are made of hard rubber that provides stability and protection. They are also detachable so climbers can replace them easily according to different climbing conditions. Lastly, Klippa comes with an elastic, pivoted joint that provides proper ankle articulation. The ankle has internal spring and is attached to a durable elastic cord. The ankle pivots when the pressure is applied to the tip of the foot, and the spring and elastic cord bring the foot right back to its original position when the pressure is released. The elasticity of the joint provides shock absorption and saves energy.
My first step was to do a lot of research about rock climbing and observe how people climb. I interviewed experienced two-leg climbers to understand how their legs move and how they utilize their feet and ankles to stabilize their bodies on the wall. Then I tried out some blue foam stilts with different sizes so I can understand how it feels when there is no sensory feedback coming from your feet. The testing also gave me some basic ideas of what size of feet is good for climbing. The testings and research allow me to see the design challenges in a bigger scope and help me redesign prosthetic leg to make it more suitable for climbing. During my brainstorming and sketching stage, I was inspired by both human anatomy and nature, especially mountain goats. Their uniquely constructed hooves provide traction, grip and stability. The pairing of hard textured outer shell and soft inner-suction cup of their hooves allows mountain goats to stand on steep surfaces easily. These discoveries were crucial and after a few rounds of prototyping, I was able to integrate my research outcomes into my design and finally came up with a prototype. With my prototype I would like to get some feedback from real users. I got in contact with Adaptive Climbing Group and went to Philadelphia during one of their training sessions. I was able to present my work to several amputee climbers and received positive feedback. They were very thrilled to see an innovative design that is currently lacking in the rock climbing prosthetic industry. During our conversations I also found out a few details I need to improve upon such as how to attach my design to an existing socket, and how to adjust height. But these problems have been solved in the current prosthetics and it won’t be hard to integrate them into my design.
How it is different
Klippa has not won any competitions yet.