Clapham student helps develop prosthetic fin for scuba-diving grandmother

Pictured are Nigel Ealand, Lewis Jones and Sue Wright

Pictured are Nigel Ealand, Lewis Jones and Sue Wright

First published in News
Last updated
The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A MECHANICAL engineering student from North Yorkshire is developing a prosthetic fin for an inspirational grandmother.

Master’s degree student Lewis Jones, 21, of Clapham, near Settle, is one of five students bidding to make Sue Wright’s dream of exploring the underwater world come true.

The 53-year-old is learning to scuba dive following an horrific accident where she lost her leg and almost died.

The former office manager was hit by a van while walking her Jack Russell dog near to her home, nearly six years ago.

The van lost control, mounted the pavement and smashed into her resulting in devastating injuries to her legs, head and vital organs.

Determined to get her once active life back on track, she enlisted the help of a London-based Sub-Aqua Club and its instructor Nigel Ealand to teach her to scuba dive.

He realised there was nothing currently on the market to aid Sue in her quest to become a fully qualified instructor so the pair turned to a group of students from Brunel University, who agreed to design Sue a prosthetic fin which she can use safely on her underwater adventures.

Lewis said: "It’s proved difficult to come up with something that replicates the knee joint without the use of electronics.

"I have tried to keep it as simple as possible. The problem is if the leg doesn’t work at say 30 metres she is going to be essentially dragging around a dead weight.

"I’ve looked at snowboarding which puts the knee joint through similar stresses. And I’ve dived myself so appreciate what Sue needs. She is a remarkable and incredibly inspirational lady."

Sue explained how she has been struggling to swim underwater as she can only use one fin on her right foot.

She said: "I get tired as my right leg, which was also badly damaged in the accident, has to do all the work.

"However, it’s not just about having a prosthetic leg I can use to help me fin, I need to be able to wear it to get to and from the dive boat and so I can carry all my dive equipment.

"The Genium knee prosthesis I use on a day-to-day basis is electronic but, as electronics and water do not mix, I need a mechanical leg I can use for my diving."

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