Wounded Warriors: Student Designs Prostetic Leg To Help Injured Vets Climb Mountains

A young design student, eager to help wounded warriors, created an artificial limb that would help injured veterans climb mountains and achieve mobility freedom that some no longer though possible.

Kai Xiang Lin, 21, is a student at Pratt Institute. The industrial design student said the wounded warriors inspired him, and he wanted to find a way to help them regain a broader range of movement and put more joy back in their lives.

Lin had this to say about the artificial limb, created specifically for wounded veterans:

“During my research I noticed that thousands of wounded soldiers were coming back with missing limb, either arms, hands, or legs. A lot of soldiers were from a very physical active background and suddenly losing that mobility is quite a change in their lifestyle. I wanted to design something that would not only help them perform daily tasks such as walking or running but help them fully enjoy their lives.”

The prosthetic limb was crafted to aid amputees garner the ability to climb steep mountains and scale rock faces by offering a base for the artificial limb that resembles that of a hoofed animal.

While searching for the perfect design for his wounded warriors artificial limb, Lin came across a video of mountain goats climbing a virtually vertical dam with both grace and ease. The Pratt Institute design student worked the features present in the hooves of the goats into the artificial limb for the wounded soldiers.

Kai Xiang Lin plans to keep working on research and design projects geared towards improving physical abilities of both wounded veterans and other patients who have lost a limb. “Rock climbing, especially indoor rock climbing is a safe sport, and I knew designing something for rock climbing can really help them regain that activity,” Lin added.

According to the third-year student, Pratt Institute offers the freedom to research and design projects which inspire and motivate the designers on an individual levels. Lin is particularly drawn to “wearable technology,” and feels that the artificial limbs of today illustrate how far that particular technology has evolved over the years. “Back in medieval times they would have heavy fake metal legs and now we have sensor and advanced electronic devices that mimic walking motions,” the wounded warriors rock climbing limb designer concluded.

The specially designed artificial limb includes both flexible and rigid components necessary for climbing. The small contact surface portion of the device is about half the size of a typical foot, and features a “pointy toe” for standing on small surfaces.