Courtesy of Michigan Technological University students and Chevrolet‘s sponsorship, wounded athletes will now be able to complete marathons via a “hand cycle,” a new method of transportation for those in need.
For a bit of background, three-wheel hand cycles allow for the operator to lean forward while pumping the pedals with their hands. For amputees or others who have complicated injuries, this is probably a more efficient solution than a normal wheelchair.
The latest version, called the “Tomahawk” was used today during the Detroit Free Press/Talmer Bank International Marathon and was operated retired National Guard Staff Sgt. Travis Wood of Cedar City, Utah. Wood lost his right leg just above the knee in 2007, via a bomb blast in Afghanistan. He is one of 20 members of the Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans that will be competing in Detroit, courtesy of Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers. A prototype version of the Tomahawk was revealed at last December’s Army-Navy Game, and has been in development since.
The Tomahawk uses high-strength steel alloys for durability; improved restraints (over previous versions) for comfort/safety; and is very portable, so it will reduce the likelihood of damage during transit.
There has been a more “pedestrian” version created, known as the Keweenaw Cruiser. Senior engineering students from Michigan Tech’s “Huskies Helping Heroes” senior capstone project helped to design both types of cycles after meeting with wounded athletes – including Mr. Wood.
“We’ve worked on versions of this cycle for over a year and have had feedback from dozens of athletes. We’re ready, and feel it is so much more than an engineering project: It’s our chance to give opportunity to those who have served all of us,” said James Cook, one of the Michigan Tech students who worked on the Tomahawk.
Eventually, a cycle manufacturer will likely take the reigns in creating a full lineup of cycles for the athletes requiring them; but for now, Michigan Tech students seem to have done a great job. We’ll see the results after Travis puts 26.2 miles on it.