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    prosthetics now an advantage? [split]
    #1
    In about 2006-07 I was a visiting professor at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington DC. I got to visit the wards, see the patients, saw a lot of amputees, and talked to the CPOs (certified prosthetists-orthotists). Learned a lot. The US military and their CPOs probably know more about amputations and prosthetics than anybody in the world.

    I saw a number of cases at morning report. They always asked my opinion and I would comment on them, usually trying someway to save the extremity. Often I was corrected by the WR orthopaedists, who said they would opt for an amputation. They said their prosthetists and prosthetics were so good that the soldiers often opted for the amputation because to them they were better than a damaged limb.

    This was in the middle of the Pistorius controversy so I asked the CPOs about that. They said they were on the verge of making competition prosthetics that were better than a normal limb in terms of energy return. I brought this up to a USA Today reporter who asked me about it when interviewing me about Pistorius and she absolutely roasted me on the phone about that opinion.

    I would suspect the military prosthetists have now gotten those prosthetics to where they are better than a limb in terms in energy return.

    I think what Blake Leeper is doing is incredible but as somebody else commented, its a slippery slope we're going down.
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    #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambam1729 View Post
    ...

    This was in the middle of the Pistorius controversy so I asked the CPOs about that. They said they were on the verge of making competition prosthetics that were better than a normal limb in terms of energy return. I brought this up to a USA Today reporter who asked me about it when interviewing me about Pistorius and she absolutely roasted me on the phone about that opinion.

    ...
    bambam, what did she roast you about? Your ability to have a medical opinion, or that it was different from hers? You are spot on regarding the potential slippery slope.
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    #3
    Quote Originally Posted by bobguild76 View Post
    bambam, what did she roast you about? Your ability to have a medical opinion, or that it was different from hers? You are spot on regarding the potential slippery slope.
    Her opinion was that Pistorius should be allowed to run and mine differed - that the Leeper problem was coming if we allowed that to happen. Since my opinion did not agree with hers, and was not the politically correct opinion, it did not get published but she let me have it on the phone. I'll let you guess who it was. I'm not saying on the record, however.
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    The problem will be, and it may be too late to avoid already, is that this will end up as a social issue over a sports issue. I'd imagine a general breakdown in opinion would be split down the lines of track and field fan vs. general public.

    The general public will look upon the athlete being questioned as being denied his or her right to compete when he or she already has a disadvantage. Inevitably it will head to the courts.

    This will allow we track fans to enjoy the first 750 foot javelin throw.
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    #5
    Quote Originally Posted by NotDutra5 View Post
    This will allow we track fans to enjoy the first 750 foot javelin throw.
    I don't think things will get nearly that bad. The general public and the powers that be are willing to acknowledge an advantage when it becomes obvious. Everybody agrees that wheelchair athletes shouldn't be competing against runners in distance races (although wheelchair racers and runners are often physically in the same road race, their times are ranked separately).

    The trouble is with athletes who are just good enough to be controversial. In the 400m, 46 flat won't bother professionals in major competitions. Sub-43 probably would generate consensus for acknowledging the advantage. But the space in between is good enough to beat some professionals without being dominant enough to make the advantage obvious to all.
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    Reference to my 750ft javelin comment:

    Quote Originally Posted by 18.99s View Post
    I don't think things will get nearly that bad.
    I was exaggerating to make a point but the problem is what happens with, let's say in a 400m, 44.5, 44.0, 43.8 and then 41.2 or better. The rules have already allowed for the first 3 and then the barn door is going to be attempted to be closed with a lot less leverage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambam1729 View Post
    Her opinion was that Pistorius should be allowed to run and mine differed - that the Leeper problem was coming if we allowed that to happen. Since my opinion did not agree with hers, and was not the politically correct opinion, it did not get published but she let me have it on the phone. I'll let you guess who it was. I'm not saying on the record, however.
    Sorry to hear that. I think 18.99 made an excellent point in #11. It's not about whether blades bring an advantage, although they certainly can. It's about whether they bring something different, which they absolutely do.
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    #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bambam1729 View Post

    This was in the middle of the Pistorius controversy so I asked the CPOs about that. They said they were on the verge of making competition prosthetics that were better than a normal limb in terms of energy return. I brought this up to a USA Today reporter who asked me about it when interviewing me about Pistorius and she absolutely roasted me on the phone about that opinion.

    If that was who I think it was I'm not surprised. I'm sure you weren't either.
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    #9
    All sports limit the types and characteristics of equipment that can be used in competition, and they have to do so to keep the competition meaningful.

    If somebody wants to use equipment that isn't normally allowed within the rules, the advantage or lack thereof shouldn't be the primary consideration. The main point of discussion should be whether the equipment does something different to the motions or skills involved in the sport, or alters the effect of fatigue, pain, injury, or other stresses on the body.

    If advantages were the focus, one could find some classes of cars and motorcycles that are close enough in overall performance that no advantage could be discerned for either. But that lack of advantage doesn't let somebody bring a motorcycle into a car race or vice versa. The skills, motions, and risks are different, and they have different races.

    Running with prosthetic blades obviously involves a different skill set and motion pattern, and has different fatigue characteristics (no calves that can get tired, for example). Those differences should be enough for exclusion from direct competition with athletes who run with their own feet.

    The fundamental question should not be "Does this equipment provide an advantage?", it should be "Does this equipment bring something different to the sport or event?" The first question shouldn't have to be considered if the answer to the latter is Yes or Maybe.
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    Considering the coverage and ads today...weepy stories seem to be a major part of how NBC intends to cover track....if Leeper makes the team he will probably be the new face of the sport...God help us if he breaks the WR....
    Last edited by Conor Dary; 07-27-2019 at 08:54 PM.
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