Himalayan goat inspires Markhor prosthetic foot for amputee mountain climbers

Markhor by Sydney Minnis

A project sponsored by DePuy Medical, Markhor is a prosthetic foot that aids amputee athletes in the rigorous sport of rock and mountain climbing. The sport, which is not yet included in the Paralympics, has many professional athletes hooked. However, the lack of Paralympics recognition has meant that prosthesis for climbers have been a little too slow to evolve than the ones that are created for professionals from other arenas. The Markhor prosthetic foot was developed by designer Sydney Minnis for athletes performing with physical disability.

The Markhor is a Himalayan mountain goat that resides in cliff-side habitats and thus makes the perfect study for designs that need to provide grip in extreme sporting terrain. The prosthetic leg was developed after extensive interviews with amputee climbers who noted that while there were other artificial limbs available in the market that helped athletes with disabilities climb, they still posed the problem of not being easily usable in routine life.

Based on interpreting end user experience, the Markhor was created in such a way that allowed climbers to easily switch from their regular prosthetics to climbing-specific gear very easily, much in the same way regular athletes put on shoes with extra grip before embarking on such a challenge.

The most difficult part of being an amputee climber is getting to the wall with a walking prosthesis and then changing into a climbing prosthesis since first step of rock climbing is approaching the site. Once at the base of the wall, amputee climbers generally have to change their entire prosthetic manually to be able to perform. However, with the Markhor, hiking foot and climbing foot can be switched in a single snap thus saving the climber a lot of time and energy.

Once at the base the wall, the hiking foot can be released from the leg by pulling on the loop at the back of the shoe, which unlocks the two pieces. The climbing shoe is then snapped onto the bottom of the leg using the same locking mechanism. The shape of the hiking foot resembles the hoof, which allows more control and grip while climbing. The lightweight and durable concept was a sponsored studio award winner as well as an IDEA 2011 finalist.

[Cheers Sydney]

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