TonyM Needs Your Help - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-29-2009   #1
4CRS, Durango, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 305
TonyM Needs Your Help

Hi All,
Please check out my progress at:

As you may have seen in earlier posts I lost my right hand this past week as a passenger in an ATV accident. I still intend to continue paddling and I need your help finding the best system to do so. I do have my wrist and should have some movement there but I am going to need some type of prosthesis that works well to hold the paddle firmly in place. I am also thinking it may work best if I learn to paddle with a left hand control paddle which would allow me to have looser grip on my prothesis hand. Or, I may just have to become a hand paddler
So, all you engineers, help me out, what is the best way to keep my paddle in my hand?
I know there are products out there already, help me find the best ones.
Any other amputee paddlers out there please contact me and tell me what you use, what you can paddle, and things to be aware of.

Overall I am doing well and looking forward to the future, I am scared and know that there will be many challenges, I will face them head on. I appreciate all the suppout I have received from the paddling community, you have all been great. Please keep the good vibes coming, it means a lot to me. Thank You All! Tony Miely 4CRS

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Old 09-29-2009   #2
Dave Frank's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,828
Glad your surgeries have gone well. Best wishes on a speedy recovery.

Maybe you could get a special paddle that the wrist went into C-1 style? Not that i would wish C-1ing on you.

The hand paddles would be a no brainer. We've got to find something cooler than that.

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Old 09-29-2009   #3
oh yeah
Join Date: Oct 2003
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i recall an article in a magazine about an olympic hopeful slalom kayaker in D.C. that worked for a prosthesis manufacturer. does this sound familiar to anyone? maybe post on boater talk.

anyway, we haven't met but i wish you the best.


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Old 09-29-2009   #4
DurangoSteve's Avatar
Durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 1,907
Tony - last week I saw an amazing piece on Dean Kamen, inventor of the Segway, on the "bionic" arm his company is developing for DARPA. There's some incredibly inspiring work being done on prosthethics. Check out this clip. The Pentagon's Bionic Arm - 60 Minutes - CBS News

Stay strong.

You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on to you. - Heraclitus of Ephesus
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Old 09-29-2009   #5
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 3,107
Tony, best of luck with your mission.

My first thought is that a top notch orthopedic doc would be a good first start to help you figure out what is out there for prosthetic devices and what works best for you. They will know what the current state of technology is. Did a quick google search and it looks like there is a lot of info on a variety of prosthetic hands out there.

My gut feel is that hand paddling would be an excellent option. Seems like attaching hand paddles to a prosthetic would be the easiest and cheapest solution to get you on the water. It would require lots of paddling adaptation. I regularly paddle with a couple hand paddlers, and they seem to pretty much kick ass. Lots of guys in the southeast running hard whitewater with handpaddles too. It certainly can be done.

For a paddle holding option... perhaps a prosthesis with a hole in it to fit the paddle shaft through, but allow it to rotate freely to control feather with the left. If you put raised ridges on the paddle on either side of the spot where the paddle fit into the hole, you could prevent the paddle from slipping out either way. Getting the paddle in and out might work with a C-clamp type connection. I'm imagining an oarlock type of device.
A quick release system might be a good idea, with a type of buckle release like rescue vests or a metal release like on ammo can attachments or something of the sort. Another concern would be the strength of the prosthetic to arm attachment, and making sure the connection could withstand the forces of paddling.

Another random thought that comes to mind... Perhaps a place to look for help would be biomedical engineering schools. When I was in engineering school (chemical) the biomedical department at my college did some pretty cool projects designing equipment for specific people. Might be a low cost option to get some help or new ideas.
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Old 09-29-2009   #6
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,865
check this out:

TRS Inc. - Prosthetics Research, Design & Manufacturing

article about the company here: Prosthetic designer delivers faster, higher, stronger - The Denver Post

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Old 09-29-2009   #7
Join Date: Feb 2004
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I'm sorry to hear about your accident and am wishing you all the best with your recovery. You might find this idea interesting...
I had an engineer colleague who lost all his fingers to frostbite many years ago, and he built an incredible whitewater paddle system. He now lives in Europe, but I might be able to put you in touch. Also I can put you in touch with my friend David in Boulder. I recommended this paddle system to David - his hands are paralyzed, and he was intersted building a kayak touring setup. David took a bunch of photos of the system when he was visiting me in Idaho, so he could send you his photos. I think he had a similar paddle system built for himself by someone in Boulder who works on adaptive technologies. So David would be a good contact for you (and the guy is also the definition of inspiring). I'll try to describe the paddle briefly: cut the paddle in half where you would hold it. Insert a clipless bike peddle that swivels on the center piece and is fixed to the blade piece. Build a cast-like prosthesis that fits on your arm or hand stump (my friend without the fingers used ski boot buckles to close his!). Into that cast you put the part of the clipless pedal that would normally be in the bike shoe. Then you can clip your hand/wrist/arm to the paddle, can rotate the blade, are affixed quite securely, and just "twist" out of it like you would with a bike shoe, to release the paddle. It's brilliant! I know my description leaves a bit to be desired but like they say a picture is worth 1000 words so we can get pictures to you! If your interested I'll get you in touch with David. Sending lots of warm healing thoughts your way!

"Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart..." Confucius
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Old 09-29-2009   #8
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 146
An idea

Hey Tony,

My heart sinks thinking about your injury. I'm wishing you the best for a speedy recovery and hopeful paddling future. Depending on how much wrist movement you have strangely enough the first idea that came to mind was a special prosthetic that threaded directly through the paddle ( a rod of sorts) held in place with a pin that you could release if need be. Another thought I had (I think it's from a Tim Burton Film) is a mount like on the end of a bicycle fork that would allow rotation, power, and release. I am not an engineer however. It seems as though there are a lot of really creative specialists working in this field and I'm sure there's one excited about taking on your project. Also, since this type of work could be considered research based there could be funding floating around out there. I wish you the best and can't wait to see you on the river again.

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Old 09-29-2009   #9
KVBA TV8 Vail weatherman/Colorado Kayaker, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1992
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Hey bro. I have to say how inspiring you are. I can't believe what I just read. We can only imagine (which I have all week) as to what this type of injury means and here you are with questions about getting back after it on the river. You are truly amazing my friend. There is no doubt in my mind that you will not only paddle again soon, but will exceed even your own expectations. Your courage and strength is at a level rarely seen. While many would go dormant you are already moving forward. So sorry to hear of your situation but at the same time so happy to see your positive attitude. Absolutely incredible and inspiring. Keep chargin' it Tony. We are all rooting for you.

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Old 09-29-2009   #10
Preacher of the Profit Paddling Since: 1990
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I sent Dan at Werner Paddles an Idea earlier this week and I am waiting to hear back. Basically your left hand becomes the control hand and your right arm rotates around the paddle. It would be a simple ring and post system. The ring can floats and rotates around the shaft of the paddle with about a half inch of float in either direction on the shaft. The post connects to your wrist. If the post is based off a ball and socket conection, it would allow a more natural shoulder rotation. The less amount of float the more power tansfer.
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