CU-Boulder lab pushes athletes and their prosthetics to be stronger and go faster

BOULDER, Colo. - A lab at the University of Colorado in Boulder is pushing runners and their prosthetic legs to be stronger and go faster.

Dr. Alena Grabowski works with elite athletes on a specialized treadmill, which reaches speeds of 30 miles per hour.

"If you trip or fall, you're not going to get hurt," she explained.

Cameras all around the lab track the runner's exact movement, allowing researchers at CU to know down to the millimeter how his legs are moving.

"So then we can measure their joint angles, their joint torque, and their joint power," Grabowski said.

Years ago, Grabowski worked with the now-infamous South African Olympian Oscar Pistorius -- who was nicknamed "the bladerunner" for his prosthetics. Despite the controversy that's engulfed him since, the work at this CU lab proved his prosthetics did not give him an unfair advantage over the other runners.

Grabowski says she believes the future of this science is limitless.

"I think the technology could potentially develop to allow a person to run faster than they could without prosthesis or exoskeletons," she said.

"It's all about the attitude," said athlete Marko Lemtukei, who is training for the Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro next year. "I'll keep running until I can't run anymore."

Lemtukei will be working with the CU research team for two more weeks.

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