Dan Lasko, a former Marine in green-trimmed blue swimming goggles, emerges from the locker room at the Nassau County Aquatic Center ready to hit the swimming pool with a brand new prosthetic leg. This will be the first time in years he'll have the ability to stride from the pool deck and into the water without being forced to remove his reliable prosthesis and hopping on the slippery deck with one leg to get in.
An explosion in Afghanistan in 2004 shredded the lower part of his left leg, which meant that his swimming routine now had to involve some degree of acrobatics. Presently, Mr. Lasko, 34, from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is the father of two active water-loving boys, ages 2 and 6. It has always been a dream of his to climb in and out of the pool with them with ease.
Until now, as a dedicated longtime triathlete, he had mostly depended on his arms for the first part of his swim-bike-runs and couldn’t wait to use a water-friendly prosthesis capable of matching the power of his intact leg. The new leg that he would be testing consists of a jack-black foot with a non-slip tread on the sole, which was described by him as simply “awesome”. His excitement was evident from the first whiff of chlorine once he hit the water.
Mathew Flynn, a certified prosthetist at Eschen (the company that makes the prosthetic foot), acknowledges that while waterproof prosthetic legs have existed for decades, this is the first “fully functional” swim leg. The prosthetic is able to propel an amputee through the water, making their experience in the water easy. The designer, Todd Goldstein, was enlisted to be part of the project owing to his experience in 3-D printing. The aim of undertaking the aquatic test run was to work out the kinks of the prototype to prepare for commercial sales.
The cost of the prosthetic will range from $2,000 to $5,000, mostly depending on the customization and which off-the-shelf parts are used. Mr. Lasko received his prosthesis for free for participating in the project. The device will become commercially available in about six months and is expected to be of great help to the 1.9 million people that have lost limbs nationwide.