AN Andover mechanical engineering student is playing his part in a team working to develop a prosthetic fin to allow an inspirational mother and grandmother to scuba dive.
Sue Wright, 53, lost her left leg when she was hit by a van, which also left her with devastating injuries to her head and vital organs.
But undeterred by this she is fulfilling her dream to explore underwater with the help of Nigel Ealand, of Eastcote Sub Aqua Club, who contacted the group of mechanical students at Brunel University.
Max Sullivan, 22, from Andover, is one of five undergraduates who are researching and developing the fin.
Max said: “The biggest problem I have is the space available in trying to fit everything in and of course the fact we can’t use electronics.
I have looked closely at how the ankle works and replicated that mechanically.
“The prototype is being made and I’m waiting to get it on a test rig. The prototype is being made from aluminium, although I would expect to use titanium once we get to the final manufacturing stage.”
Sue said: “They really are wonderful young people and I’m so pleased to have had the opportunity to work with them.
“It isn’t all about me, I hope other less able-bodied people see that you can do things and you don’t have to give up.
“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.
“But there are other problems. Once you go underwater, pressure would work against the prosthetic limb and that could prove an issue with how the limb fits on to my stump.
“There is also the possibility that pressure could cause the limb to rub my skin-grafted skin too. Add to those problems the fact I want to be able to use the leg to fin properly, making diving easier, and you can see there’s a lot to overcome.
“However thanks to Nigel, my diving instructor at Eastcote Sub Aqua Club, we may have found a solution.”
Sue says she is delighted with the efforts of the Brunel students and says she is really looking forward to seeing the results of their research.