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This Robotic Prosthesis Promises a New Life for Motorcycle Riders

By General Posts

by Cristian Curmei from

If you’ve ever had an accident that caused you to lose functions of a certain body part, you might be able to imagine what it may be like for an amputee. A new design is looking to change all that and offers a second chance to a once lost love.

Every once in a while, a human comes along and changes the rules of the game. Out of struggle and hardship amazing designs to meet unconventional needs are born. This time, the story is about how we can continue our favorite past-time of riding motorcycles even after accidents would leave us incapable of naturally doing so.

A designer by the name of Tom Hylton, an intern at Jaguar, has designed an innovative solution for amputees who would still like to take that Sunday ride. A bionic arm bearing the Honda sigil. More so, it’s even capable of being taken out to the racetrack, on paper anyway.

This design is still a concept so I’m not sure how soon we would be seeing it on actual riders, but that doesn’t mean that it deserves any less respect. Taking into consideration that it offers the ability to continue being a rider even after a limb-losing accident, this device is one of the more promising designs around.

As you can see, the design revolves around your basic human arm, but with a few less functions. For example, the arm includes only a bicep, triceps, elbow and forearm. No palm component, that we normally use for throttling or picking things up, exists. Instead, the arm has a pincer like end that should allow it to connect to any throttle stick. So, it’s specifically made for motorcycling and nothing else.

That being said, the arm does include a few components that allow is to add to riding value. One of the downsides of non-bionic riders, for lack of a better description, is that we have flesh. And if you’ve ever experienced road rash at 50 miles per hour, imagine what it’s like at 100 or even 150 mph speeds experienced by professional riders. This is why we use and see protective gear on motorcycle equipment, to help us from losing our own fleshy components.

Because the arm is robotic, it means that the materials used in its composition and build can be designed with specific purposes. And that’s what happens here as well. Due to the possible use of materials such as carbon fiber and even titanium, the forearm and elbow design was created in such a way as to act as a protective component. Meaning if you need to take a turn a bit sharper than usual, just lean into it and use the arm as a skid plate.

Another trick this robotic arm has up its inexistent sleeve is that it’s modular. The arm itself can be used separately. The first piece, the forearm, can be used as a standalone prosthetic for amputees that have had a trans-radial accident.

The second and third piece, the elbow and bicep prosthetic, is to be used by trans-humeral amputees. This modular ability allows for the prosthetic to be suitable for other forearms that may be needed to perform different functions other than riding a motorcycle. This further extends it’s applicability and suitability to meet market needs.

Let’s be real here, if Honda ever puts anything like this into production, it won’t just be given away for free. It is a product, and products need a market, or in this case, to meet a market need.

Generous group helps make new prosthetic for local war vet and surprises him with new motorcycle

By General Posts

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW ) — An innovative event is giving a local war veteran a big surprise and the chance to once again hit the open road.

Sgt. Charles Zollicoffer served three tours of duty with the Marines, then joined the Army and was getting ready to re-deploy overseas when he was hit by a drunk driver on his motorcycle.

“The morning I was set to fly off that’s when I had the accident,” said Sgt. Zollicoffer. “Boom, that was it.”

The driver left him for dead on S.R. 800 in Stark County, but luckily another man on a motorcycle who was headed to work stopped and saved his life.

“I didn’t think he was gonna make it,” said Dave Bowman.

Twenty-seven surgeries and four months later, Zollicoffer woke up at Aultman Hospital with his left leg amputated at the hip joint.

Doctors told him it was a difficult amputation and that he would never walk again.

“I said, ‘I will walk again; I don’t care if I have to take a 2×4 and duct tape, I will walk,’” said Zollicoffer.

The father of three has been walking using a prosthetic leg, but has not been able to ride a motorcycle again— something he truly loved to do.

Then, a friend and former colleague told him the good news.

De Ann Williams, executive director of the Stark County Veterans Service Commission, nominated him to be part of the “Challenge America’s Makers for Veterans Event.”

The event, which kicked off Friday night at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, combines teams of students, engineers, designers and physicians who develop solutions for veterans.

The plans are then developed into finished product using 3D printers, metal making, and circuit boards among other means.

“An incredible, but sometimes intense experience,” said senior Coleman Isner. “There’s a little bit of stress for the students who are participating where you really have to make something that’s full and consistent for that veteran because it’s affecting their well-being.”

There are ten teams helping ten different veterans with challenges ranging from physical restrictions to PTSD.

Charles’ Team Z is making him a very special prosthetic leg that will enable him to once again ride a motorcycle.

And that’s not all.

During the kick-off they surprised him with a brand new trike to try it out on.

“I got my outreach team together and said, ‘Charles needs our help,’ and within 48 hours we had the money donated from local organizations,” Williams.

The new leg and all of the other creations will be worked on throughout the weekend and then the finished project will be presented at The Global Center for Health Innovation on Veterans Day at 5 p.m.

Zollicoffer said he is overwhelmed and humbled to have been selected and is forever grateful.

“For someone to do this for me is unbelievable,” he said.