Some people who suffer strokes are unable to maintain good body posture, or fully control their extremities. While they can still rehabilitate in an aqua environment, such conditions often makes it harder for them to use swimming strokes. Fortunately, technology continues to evolve, and will one day, I predict, enhance the ability of all stroke survivors to pursue a full range of aquatic activities. In that vein, here's an interesting story I wanted to share with you.
Pedro had suffered a right-side stroke. Already an avid swimmer, his rehabilitation included lots of pool time. However, the muscles in his right hand remained permanently contracted as a result of ongoing, post-stroke spasticity. Through his network, he got the assistance of 2 graduate students at Barcelona's Polytechnical University of Catalonia. Using 3D printing technology, the graduate students printed a series of 10 different prototype hand fins in various shapes and from different materials. After testing them in the water, they decided that the winner was a fin that was 3D printed from nylon. Within 4 weeks, and at a cost of about $150, they had given Pedro back effective use of his right hand for swimming.
My favorite part of this story is the speed and low cost with which this swimming fin was created. This gives me great hope that one day this technique of 3D printing fins will allow everyone - even those with ongoing spasticity - the opportunity to pursue their stroke recovery in the water.