The following statement was issued by Össur hf. on November 18, 2009 in regards to the Weyand-Bundle Point-Counterpoint style debate slated for publication in the Journal of Applied Physiology on November 19, 2009.
Össur’s unwavering mission is to support amputees everywhere and empower them to live a life without limitations. In Oscar Pistorius’ case, we know that when he runs it is a gift of a magnitude no test can grade. Furthermore, we are grateful to witness this young man’s demonstration of what it means to be a world-class athlete.
The technology used in Oscar’s Flex-Foot Cheetah® prosthetic feet has existed since 1997.Scores of amputee athletes have used the very same product to compete at an international level of sport over the years. Some have come close to able-bodied world record times, but what we have in Oscar is an extraordinary athlete: one who has taken technology that has existed for a decade and pushed it to its very limit.
More than thirty years of experience in the research and testing of prosthetic limb technology have taught us that the prosthesis is what makes amputees whole and able to engage in activities such as walking and running. Amputees also view themselves as whole-bodied when wearing their prosthesis. To test a prosthesis separately as a component, and not as an integrated part of the amputee’s body, generates data that is technically incomplete and flawed.
Engineers Weyand and Bundle have elected to see the amputee and the prosthesis as two separate biomechanical objects. This counter-argument denigrates our efforts and has a discouraging effect on scientific development. As much as Össur would like to lay claim to the engineering feat of augmenting human locomotion with our prosthetics, we cannot. We aim to improve the design, the fit and the harmonization of prosthetic and orthotic devices to individuals, and make them as whole as possible.
The past few years have been enlightened and remarkable times for active amputees who have worked so hard and overcome so many challenges to at last experience the opportunity to compete alongside able-bodied athletes. It is unfortunate and regrettable that their remarkable achievements are repeatedly discredited and that precious time that could be devoted to training must be – again – devoted to explicating themselves and addressing public perception.